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I wish I could say that I did not set out to buy a lying down bra. I wish I could tell you, honestly, that when I ordered the Girlfriend Collective Paloma Bra in Black ($38) I had every intention of wearing it to exercise. But that would be a lie. Several months into the pandemic, I specifically sought out a bra that would be comfortable to wear while lying flat on my back, and no other purchase has improved my quarantined life quite so much.
Pre-pandemic, my relationship to bras without underwires was like my relationship to analytic philosophy or the SpaceX Mars mission: simply none of my concern. I wear a G cup. I always figured bralettes and unlined sports bras just weren’t for me. At least, not if I wanted to do things like stand up or go outside.
Then, the pandemic happened. I was underemployed, living with my parents, and not doing a whole lot of “standing up” or “going outside.” I was, in fact, spending the majority of my time lying down. And lying down in an underwired bra sucks. The stiff wire bit into my rib cage, and it was uncomfortable and restrictive (if not outright painful) to wear one during my hours-long horizontally positioned LinkedIn doomscrolls. On the other hand, not wearing a bra wasn’t much more comfortable. For a large-busted woman, an hour of bralessness is a novelty, but an entire day is more like a fluid mechanics experiment.
So… what’s a lying down bra?
Enter the Paloma. It’s technically a sports bra, but not supportive enough for me to seriously consider working out in it. (If you want to wear it to exercise, size down.) The real beauty of the Paloma is that it’s both perfectly comfortable to wear for an uninterrupted eight-hour Netflix binge and supportive enough for me to comfortably get up, go to the bathroom, and grab a snack. This makes it a perfect example of a lying down bra, a garment concept I’m pretty sure I invented and have every intention of trying to make a thing.
A lying down bra is any bra you wear specifically to lie down. The Girlfriend Collective Paloma is an excellent example of the genre, but it’s not the only option: any soft, underwire-free bralette or sports bra will fit the bill.
Why is such a thing necessary?
Over the past year, an awful lot of what we previously called “office” or “white collar” workers started working from home—and, in many cases, from bed. Members of this privileged class began to eschew hard pants, shoes, makeup, and, yes, bras. But for those of us to whom bralessness is little comfort, a lying down bra can be a revelation in comfort and convenience. When I wear mine to do my silly little email tasks while lying prone, I don’t just forget I’m wearing a bra: I almost forget I have a physical form at all. It’s great.
Where should I get one?
Unlike the nap dress, which took quarantine season 1 by storm, a lying down bra (note the indefinite article) isn’t the product of a direct-to-consumer marketing push. (It also isn’t quite as twee or infantilizing, although it makes the same assumptions about one’s relationship to leisure.) So you can probably get one wherever you want.
I will say, though, that Girlfriend Collective is a great place to start. The Paloma is comfortable, minimalist, high-coverage enough to wear as a crop top, and at $38, it’s neither worryingly cheap nor exorbitantly expensive. And I expect it to hold up. My last Girlfriend Collective purchase was a pair of leggings I got for free (plus $25 shipping) as part of a promo deal back when the brand first launched in 2016. Those leggings have continued to fit me perfectly even as my body fluctuated throughout college, and a tiny hole I managed to poke in the material has resolutely refused to fray.
Plus, the brand is pretty good on sustainability and ethical labor practices. The clothes are made from recycled materials, and the brand’s main factory in Vietnam is SA8000-certified by Social Accountability International—meaning it guarantees safe working conditions, the right to unionize, and no forced or child labor. Plenty of brands are guilty of greenwashing, but Girlfriend Collective seems to mostly walk the walk.
Of course, the most sustainable option (after not buying anything) is buying secondhand. But if you’d rather not brave the frontier of used sports bras, here are some other great options:
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