Florence Pugh, Olivia Wilde, office dress codes: I’ve stopped wearing a bra to work

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I have stopped wearing a bra every day. Yes, that means I don’t always wear a bra to work, and I feel liberated. Forget free the nipple; I’m into freeing the whole damn boob, both of them!

I’ve been thinking about my boobs a lot lately. Partly because celebrities like Florence Pugh and Olivia Wilde are forgoing their bras on the red carpet and looking like goals and because I’m so tired of dressing not to attract judgment or attention from men.

I just want to dress for myself. You know, like men do every day.

Bras are uncomfortable. The first thing I do when I get home is to free myself from my bra to relax and finally feel comfortable. Often, my bra leaves angry red marks on my skin because it has been digging into me all day (I’m wearing the right size, bras just suck).

When I was devoted to wearing a bra, it wasn’t unusual for me to be at my desk and be forced to try and reposition a rogue bra strap or readjust my bra so it wasn’t pinching a particular part of my body. I totally get why women decided to stop wearing corsets because they couldn’t breathe in them.

Fingers crossed, bras will be next, and honestly, heels can come right after that.

So, I’ve stopped wearing a bra all the time. I haven’t gone completely cold turkey, but I no longer force myself into one daily. I feel more comfortable, and there have been no repercussions for me so far. However, I should announce my privilege here. I work in a very liberal, casual office space.

Still, this is a larger conversation. While companies can no longer legally have different dress codes for men and women, there are also unconscious social norms, right? Recently a woman wrote into a Sydney newspaper and shared that two co-workers had complained about her not wearing a bra because it allegedly made them “uncomfortable”.

In 2021, ABC obtained a recording from a briefing that told women working for a construction company that if they dressed less “provocatively,” that would deter sexual harassment.

The lingerie chain Honey Birdette periodically made headlines for years for having a dress code that required female workers to wear red lipstick and tailored pants, and pencil skirts.

You see the trend, don’t you? The messaging women are told is always to dress in a certain way to be taken seriously. Hence why I always thought the amount of underwire I wore somehow showed how seriously I took my job or how much I respected myself.

Dress codes aren’t as enforceable anymore, but the norms remain. When I worked at David Jones, wearing stockings was still expected, and I got the UTIs to prove it. It’s only now that I’m in a relaxed office-style job that I feel like I have more autonomy over how I dress.

We are in this in-between stage where women don’t technically have to wear heels or a bra but there’s still a social pressure to conform. Being a woman means I am constantly navigating double standards and trying to unlearn patriarchal tropes like wearing a bra means I should be given more respect.

I always figured I didn’t want to be known as the girl that doesn’t wear a bra, but I’ve realised I do want to be known as that girl. Why? Because I want to remind women that you don’t have to wear a bra to be respected or seen as professional. Here, I am ladies, braless and running a meeting.

Originally published as Sydney woman welcomes new office rule men say makes them ‘uncomfortable’

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