Social media may have you thinking Austin summers are all cute midriff-baring crop tops and vintage Levis 501 cut offs. While this may be true once the sun goes down, the scorching, humid days call for a more utilitarian wardrobe.
From May to September, you only go outside for three reasons: 1. Walking from your car to an air conditioned space, 2. Walking your dog the stretch of the sidewalk it takes for him to pee and poop before he demands to be carried back into air conditioning, and 3. Getting in and out of a large body of water. Since moving here three years ago, I’ve stripped my summer wardrobe of anything that’s not 100 percent linen or made of a light moisture-wicking synthetic fabric like nylon, Lycra or spandex.
While the wardrobe switch has been relatively painless, there was one conundrum I was left with: What to do about bras. Austin’s distinct mixture of heat and humidity make regular polyester bras feel like a personal torture device. And since I’m a sweaty, sweaty baby, my bra brands and straps end up stretching out way faster than they should. As a 34DD, I’d consider myself “mid-sized” busted. I’m too small to be considered large chested, but I am endowed enough that going braless is incredibly uncomfortable. I need to wear some type of bra, not only for the breast support, but also for the useful built-in sweat keeper that keeps drops from sliding down my torso into my knees.
The answer came in a mirror selfie from a Wisconsin-based friend. She wore a cropped nude scoop neck tank top that made her similarly-sized chest look straight out of a Kardashian sister’s Instagram post. “Brami!” was the caption. It’s a rare occasion that I can’t put together a portmanteau via context clues, but I quickly sent back “???” She texted the link to a Free People product page, where I discovered the cross between a bra and a camisole: The Hayley Racerback Brami ($28). It's a cross between a cami and bra, and it's pretty genius.
At first, I was skeptical, having lived through the traumatic era of built-in shelf bras from camis bought at Kohl's and Aeropostale, but their no-cleavage options felt like a less risky option. I decided to take the plunge with a zesty orange ribbed racerback, because it resembled a sports bra and, to me, ribbed = better nip control. With free express shipping (it was really my first FP order, I swear!), baby’s first brami was in my hands and on my torso within 2-3 days.
I immediately loved how it felt like a happy medium between a super-compressive running sports bra and a merely for-show yoga bralette, its nylon and spandex blend far away enough from endurance material but still more performance-inclined than jersey or straight cotton. In fewer words: It took just one lunch-time walk to the mailbox to turn bramis into my go-to summer solution.
I quickly expanded my collection to include more styles and colors and officially deem it my go-to summer baselayer once the temps stay above 90 degrees. I got another racerback to wear as a top under shortalls. I layer my smooth sweetheart neck brami under flowier cotton dresses and linen tanks. When I’m feeling extra adventurous (or it’s just too darn hot), I’ll even venture out with a skinny strap seamless brami on its own. (Note, while I can get away with machine washing and drying my racerbacks, I’d recommend hand drying the strappier ones for a longer lasting, better fit.)
I’ve turned many skeptical friends onto the brami"over the years, noting that this small but significant change will re-shape their summer wardrobe. I’ve even tried to convert a few strangers. One night, I was at my neighborhood bar and noticed that the bartender was wearing the same neon orange brami that converted me in the first place. Regretfully, black bra straps stuck out from underneath. After I ordered my Miller High Life, I leaned in, compelled to evangelize my newfound improved way of living: “This is going to sound so weird… but you can totally get away with not wearing a bra under those tops. I have the exact same one and promise they’re more supportive than you think.”
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