Meet the Merchants, Personal Style

What Color Bra to Wear Under White? The Little Red Bra (and More Bra Styling Tips)


Valentine’s Day is imminent, and we’ve got red on the brain. In fact, this is usually right about when we start attempting to unearth the scarlet bra from the far reaches of the lingerie drawer. But why reserve rouge for February alone?

Bare Necessities has learned the red-bra styling trick French women have long used that’s guaranteed to blow your mind…

“I’m pretty sure no one knows that a red bra is as invisible under a white shirt as a nude bra,” says Heather Viskovic, our premium brands buyer. The proof: Heather in the above photo. “In fact, you’ll notice that in the basic bras we carry, we almost always offer a red. It’s really a wardrobe staple, not a fashion color.”

How on earth can a red bra under a white shirt possibly work? “Skin has red undertones, so red bras often blend fairly well under a white shirt,” says Adrienne Coleon Gaskell of the French lingerie house Simone Perele.

When it comes to the right red, fair skin tones should look for a true blue-red; olive complexions play best with cranberry; darker skin tones can go deep into scarlet or burgundy territory.

Simone Perele Promesse 3D Amour Convertible Plunge T-Shirt Bra

Heather’s favorite red bra: Fantasie Fusion Side Support Bra

So what is the right color bra to wear under a white shirt?

“There is no ‘wrong color’ bra to wear under white; it’s all a question of style,” Adrienne says. “A beautiful bra with touches of lace can make a lovely fashion statement, regardless of color, as long as it works with the outfit.” (Interestingly, a white bra under a white shirt turns out to be glaringly visible.) The key to wearing any high-contrast style is to make sure the bra is all-out gorgeous. Think pretty straps, touches of embroidery, and a perfect, curve-hugging fit, suggests Adrienne.

For pairing a bra with a lightly colored top, here’s the range of your safest bets to the most risqué:

  • a T-shirt bra that matches your skin tone exactly
  • pale blush or toffee shades that are a bit distinct from your complexion
  • a bra that reasonably matches your skin tone, but in an interesting, textural material like lace
  • red
  • another bright color or a print
  • black
  • white

In general, the best types of bras to wear with button-down shirts are minimizers—or, if you’re smaller on top, go for a minimalist, smooth, sleek bra. “That way, you’ll never have big, gaping, peekaboo moments or buttons popping off,” says Heather.

Under T-shirts, besides of course a T-shirt bra, you can also wear three-part cups, unlined styles like minimizers, or flat lace.

All of which is to say: Go ahead, give a red bra under a white shirt a go. No one will be the wiser, and you get to have a secret thrill, not to mention get more use out of a “special” bra. (And hey, just maybe a lucky someone will learn your French style secret on the 14th.)

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Brooke is the editor of this here blog. In a previous life, she was an editor at Good Housekeeping and O, The Oprah Magazine. Brooke has written for Glamour, Travel+Leisure, New York Magazine and more. She’s into concerts, travel and her exceptionally adorable daughter and husband.
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