Under or Over?

by Kelly Ann

Under or Over?

bras are not built
to go over

the underwire
should lie flat
against the sternum

not sliding over
the breasts

with a bulge
of sweaty fabric

some say it is a choice
but I was instructed
to wear mine over

to honor my covenants
to protect my body
to be modest

to cover the markings
to hold down
the wings of itchy lace

at first it felt weird
to be fitted for a bra
to wear against my skin

but my back hurt less
I was supported

and i can’t imagine why
I ever thought it blasphemy
to wear mine under

In terms of discussion, do you wear your garments under or over your bra?  How have your views on garments shifted over time?  How do you think wearing them, changing the position of the bra, altering them, only wearing half, taking them off at times, deciding to take them off entirely, putting them back on after a hiatus, or disposing of them reflects a person’s faith?  What do they represent to you?


  1. When nursing, I always wear bras underneath, just because of the mess factor. Normally I wear bras over. However I just got a new VS bra, that twists my garments throughout the day. So by the end of the day I’m wrapped in sliding circle of fabric. None of my other VS bras do this, but this one is driving me nuts. It fits me perfectly in every other way. Sigh.

    Also when I’m caring for young babies, I do a lot of clothe changing in the middle of the night (in the dark). Sometimes I get halfway through the next day before I realize my garments are inside out and backward. Sometimes practical life gets in the way of wearing them “correctly”.

  2. Either way, the sacred garment is still against the skin and still very personally hidden beneath the other clothes. I think the only problem with wearing the bra underneath the garments is that you can see the markings through some fabrics. But guys have that problem anyway because (obviously) they don’t have to worry about bras.

  3. Over. I’m large busted, and for me it is more comfortable. I was instructed to wear it this way two decades ago, but I now I think it doesn’t really matter to God–whatever works best for the person wearing them.

  4. When I went through the temple in 2001, I wasn’t given any instruction either way. However, I wore my bra over because that’s what my godmother did, and she told me that’s how it was supposed to be. I didn’t question. Around 2007 or so, I heard that the new instruction is that it’s supposed to be a personal choice, so now I wear my bra under. It’s so much more comfortable to me. I get better support. The only drawback is that the markings sometimes show through. I wish the markings weren’t 3-dimensional. (Silk screen or something like that would be nice.)

  5. Other than when I was nursing a baby, I’ve always worn the bra over, because that’s what I was told to do back in 1973. That’s when I wear a bra, which is only about once or twice a week now. I’m very small chested and since I’ve started wearing the cotton blend knit style tops (with no gathers or seams in front), I find the markings don’t show through.

    As for when to wear or not wear them… I really think that’s a personal choice. I know the temple recommend question asks if you wear them day and night, but it doesn’t ask about “every” day and night or every minute of day and night. I’ve had friends who wore them when running and I’ve heard of swim suits that accomodate them. That sounds rediculous to me. I don’t think they are magic. They’re purpose is to be a reminder of covenants. I may be old, but my memory is not so short that I’m going to forget my covenants in an afternoon at the beach.

  6. i like to wear mine under because i feel awkward about people seeing through my shirt that i am wearing my bra on top of an undershirt.

    but the symbols do show through when it’s worn this way…i’m not sure what the solution is.

  7. i’ve been pregnant or breastfeeding (or both!) for the past eight years and have always worn my bra over my garments, which i find far more comfortable for nursing and in general. i was never given counsel either way and when i asked, i was told by the temple matron that it was a personal choice. i started wearing my bra over and couldn’t believe how much more comfortable it was… plus it’s prolonged the life of my bras! i don’t think it matters to god either way.

    as for when to wear, when not to, also personal. i guess it could reflect a person’s own journey of faith, but not necessarily their level of righteousness. for me, it’s easier to wear them than not and i find them very comfy. that makes it a cinch to decide when and where (no garment-covering bathing suits and kosher to remove for intimate occasions, but i wear them pretty much every other time), but others may feel differently. whatevs. i have been known to fall behind in laundry and go out without them, but the physical discomfort or difference in feeling is enough for those occasions to be few and far between.

    final verdict? i dig ’em.

  8. I wear my bra over my garments as told to me by the matron. I’ve always understood that garments are worn close on the skin as a protection against evil and harm, and I personally know of many incidences where garments had preserved the body in those covered areas and the other uncovered body parts have been injured. I feel it speaks to one’s faith and obedience to counsel. And I’m really surprised that not everyone is told to wear garments to the skin when going through the temple for the first time. I guess ultimately it’s between the Lord and the individual. I think the slipping and sliding of bras is a small sacrifice to make considering the sacrifice of the Savior. My daughters wear cotton tops and their bras don’t slide. I don’t like to cotton and I’m prepared to have things slide. Just my feelings.

  9. When I was in the military (i am female) the military garments were t shirts. They looked the same as all the other army t shirts. There was zero possibility of wearing my bra over the garments. Also, the markings were silk screened on the inside so if I was just wearing the t-shirt (as sometimes all soldiers do and its not always your choice) no one could tell they were garments

  10. Thank you everybody for your diverse comments. I am glad to see a mix of people who wear their garments either under or over their bras.

    EM, I really wish the instruction was the same either way and that people didn’t have to find out it is optional by hearing stories of others. But I am glad people are willing to share their stories.

    Mydearuniverse, wow, the twisting definitely sounds uncomfortable. The thought of accidently putting them on inside out just makes me smile. I think there is room for a lot of slack but I do know some people who would feel guilty for accidentally wearing them inside out.

    JM & Makakona , I find it intriguing that wearing it over is more comfortable for the two of you. But this really shows how it is a personal decision.

    Michelle Glasuer, I don’t think the problem is the same for guys in that the protrusion of the breasts makes the markings more visible.

    Keri Brooks & No One, I agree that silk screening would be the best way to solve the problem of the markings showing.

    Lisa, yes, changing in a gym is also much easier if you were them under not over. I think wearing them over calls undue attention to something that is suppose to be so sacred.

    Catherine WO, wow, I can’t imagine wearing them swimming. I think that is a line most people are fairly comfortable with.

    But now I am curious what lines do people draw for when to wear them?

  11. I wear my bra over, because it’s more comfortable to me that way. The bra anchors the top down so the shoulders don’t slip and slide, and I like that my bras don’t get dirty as quickly. When I was nursing though I found it much more practical to wear a nursing bra under my garment top.

  12. Kelly Ann, this is a timely topic for me. Before I had my baby, I never minded garments. I tend to be a more conservative dresser anyway. The protections I assume they provide are more symbollic than literal (reminding me of the sacrifice of the atonement, which protects me through covering my sins).

    Since having a baby, I’ve had a harder time adjusting to them mentally. My body is used for entirely new purposes now. The only way it would work for me to wear garments is to wear them over the bra, to respectfully avoid the mess. Previously, I’ve always worn them under. But now, wearing my tops over my bra, my nursing pads, and with my new maternal bustiness, you can definitely see the markings, which I’m not very comfortable with b/c that seems disrespectful.

    When I thought about wearing them under, which doesn’t work because of the breastfeeding mess, I also thought about how it would affect the skin-to-skin contact they recommend moms have with their nursing babies. The touch of skin is helpful to babies’ development. I don’t think God would want me to put an object (even an object of religious symbollism) between me and my new baby, so it has to be over for me or loose enough to pull down from the top.

    And even though I know this sounds really terrible, sometimes I just wear the bottoms when I’m struggling more with my new breastfeeding role (such as when I had mastitis and had to wear only nursing pads under a tight T-shirt w/o a bra). I used to judge friends who only wore their tops during that time of the month, but now I find myself sometimes doing the opposite for breastfeeding. The reason I sometimes wear them in this unorthodox way is that I still am reminded of my covenants by wearing them in part. It feels OK to me to do this, although I realize that others may not choose this for themselves. I don’t know what the instruction is because I missed that part when I was initiated due to timing. I think some women in my family have noticed and are disappointed in my choice to not always wear the top, but I just feel that it’s right for me on occasion.

  13. I think the slipping and sliding of bras is a small sacrifice to make considering the sacrifice of the Savior.

    I appreciate that one should be willing to do things that are hard and unpleasant when required to by the Lord. The biggest danger with applying this to wearing the Garment is that it can very quickly turn into a hairshirt sort of thing.
    Garments are supposed to be a blessing and a privilege. If they’re making us miserable, or even just a source of irritation then something is wrong. It may be one’s attitude that needs adjusting, but it is also very likely that the cut, fabric or manufacture of the item is the problem.

  14. Alisa, thank you for your honesty. I understand your situation and it sounds like you have found a solution that works for you and still allows you to obey the spirit of the covenant. I have had occasion to care for several women in their later years of life (my mother, mother-in-law and a very close friend), and with all of them it has been necessary for them to wear only part of the garment. Wearing just the top (when adult diapers are necessary) or just the bottom (when medical equipmet is in the way) has been a good solution. I hadn’t thought about breastfeeding, but that certainly fits into this category also. Thank goodness for two-piecers.

  15. I didn’t have a problem with consistently wearing my garments (for 6 years) until I became pregnant. I tried the maternity ones – they were horribly ill fitting and baggy. I tried sizing up the regular ones – couldn’t stand the pressure on my pregnant belly. So eventually I stopped wearing the bottoms while pregnant. And then during the last month or so, it was one of the hottest summers on record, and I had no AC. I was dying. So there went the top.

    Then before I delivered, my TBM sister in law told me to not even bother with the tops while I was breast feeding. Hearing that from someone like her was a bit of a jolt, but I took that as good advice when I discovered how hard it was to breast feed with them. I put them back on after my son was weaned at about six months.

    I obviously take a more casual approach to garments than a lot of people, but I think that’s due in part to my conviction that a loving god will understand these problems. And I have the sense that a loving god will be more concerned with how I treat people, anyways.

  16. Chelsea, you raise a good point. I am curious to know how people who wear their bra under keep the shoulders from sliding off. The cut does not fit my body well. And honestly, I now find garments incredibly uncomfortable either way. I wish I could look at them like Starfoxy says as a blessing and a privelage.

    Alisa, I like how you phrase their symbolic protection, that it is not a literal shield, but it reminds one of the sacrifice of the atonement and protects by covering an individual’s sins. The more I hear about the logistics of nursing, it amazes me how many Mormon women have dealt with the same issues but for the most part never talk about it. Thank you for sharing your experience in wearing only part of your garments. I really think you have found what works for you and I hope that more people have the confidence to find what works for themselves. I think a lot of people don’t see it as a choice.

    CatherineWO, in college, I cared for a dying elderly woman in Provo who wore her garments for as long as she could. It was awkward at times helping her to go to the bathroom and change her clothes. She eventually felt comfortable with half and then going without which I think really fit the situation. However, a few years ago, I was impressed to learn from my mother who helped care for a woman dying of cancer in her ward that there are medical garments that are like a robe. It was a much better solution of her. So while I have always acknowledged some flexibility, I find it odd that I generally haven’t acknowledged it for the average individual. I really thought it a sin (if not blasphemy as described in the poem) for someone who could to wear their bra under. I am embarrassed of that position.

    Caroline, I agree that one has to believe that a loving god would understand all the problems. Thank you for sharing your experience as well. I am really curious how did you feel reclaiming wearing your garments in full. Although yes, I really do think that God should be far more concerned with our behavior and deeds than what we wear.

  17. If a matron ever gave me instruction on how to wear my bra, I completely forgot or ignored said advice.

    My garments top tends to bunch up a bit under my armpits, so I wear a bra over to keep them in place. Given the comfort level, I’d probably wear my bra underneath simply to make undressing a little more interesting.

  18. curious here… for those of you who find it difficult to breastfeed with the bra worn over, why? i’m nearing six total years of breastfeeding and haven’t had a problem wearing it so and am trying to visualize what would make it more difficult for others. the bra on top keeps things in place so much better! in fact, even when i’m not nursing, i just prefer to wear a nursing top under my bra instead of a regular one.

    as for maternity garments, they’re simply awful. the tops with the elastic bustline are itchy and the belly part, even at my biggest (two weeks overdue, at that!), are crazy bunchy with extra fabric. instead, i buy longer tops and wear my regular bottoms (which are petite and thus short-waisted compared to regulars), but pulled below my belly. it’s the closest i can get to my non-pregnant garment experience.

  19. makakona, it’s a fair question, given that you haven’t had a bad experience with nursing with garment tops directly over your breasts.

    One of the primary reasons to not wear the top under your nursing bra is for the skin-to-skin contact with a nursing baby, which is medically recommended and one of the main advantages to nursing. And then there’s the mess. I was trying to avoid too much detail, but basically, I have to wear nursing pads, and through trying it different ways I’ve noticed that skin is waterproof (e.g. milkproof), and clothing is not. When milk runs down my bare skin (either directly from the source or more commonly from my baby’s full mouth), I can simply wipe it away, keeping my clothing dry. If I were to wear nursing tops with the little holes at the breasts, they would get repeatedly soaked throughout the day (from the side the baby is feeding on and from the other side that tends to leak during that time), also soaking my top layer of clothing. I just may be more leaky than you and have a baby who likes to hold milk in his mouth, which he may or may not swallow. What breastmilk he doesn’t swallow ends up on me again. That’s why I’m frequently replacing my pads and my nursing bras. Adding garment tops to that mess seems to me both disrespectful to the garment and unnecessary.

  20. gotcha. i’m all about skin-to-skin… but for run-of-the-mill meals, it’s never been an issue for us, i guess. i hadn’t really thought about it much. i use nursing pads, too, just slip them in and out of the garment top inside the bra. and we cloth diaper, so i almost always have a cloth prefold stuck under my breast while baby nurses, to catch the spillage, especially if we’re not on the go.

  21. ah, and you must pull your bra up and over to nurse… i pull mine down, so leakage will end up on the bra anyway, if not the garment first. so interesting to see how different people do things! 🙂

    though i do bristle at the notion that i’m “disrespecting” the garment.

  22. I just pull my shirt, top, and bra down to nurse. Well, I’m not wearing bras at the moment, but if I had one, I’d just pull it down. But I’m one of those people who get accused of “whipping it out” despite the fact that my breast comes nowhere to breaking the sound barrier.

  23. I’ll be attending the Temple this Saturday for my own endowments (going on a mission wooo!!!), and I’m kind of hoping the matron will leave the option open to me should I decide wearing my bra over is too uncomfortable.

    I’m really interested in the evolution of how Mormons have viewed garments. It seems that in the past, Mormons have seen them as having a more mystical, physically-protective quality, and I can see why in that mindset wearing them under the bra would be encouraged. However, after discussing it with my stake president, it seems like we view them more as having a symbolic, spiritually-protective quality, making the argument between over vs. under moot.

  24. Wow – this was fascinating! There was a time when I’d be cold if I didn’t sleep wearing several layers at night but for possibly the last ten years I’ve had difficulty wearing the bottoms when I’m sleeping. I even tried buying the old one-piece style but didn’t like wearing that either. I’ve only once addressed this in a temple interview but have since decided it was between me and the Lord. Perhaps I’m wrong – but if I wear the bottoms to bed I end up ripping them off in the middle of the night.

    Years and years ago when I nursed my babies – I was told it was OK to wear a bra under the garment. Made good sense to me. I’d never heard about it being optional as a matter of course but I think we have to be flexible regarding medical issues.

  25. I guess maybe I wasn’t that leaky when I was breastfeeding, but I wore the nursing tops under my nursing bra with no difficulty and no extra mess. I liked how the nursing tops could keep my nursing pads more or less in place even when I wasn’t wearing a bra.

    With the chemise-style tops, of course I wore the bra under. I loved how the all-cotton chemises, with their plain bound neckline, could be worn instead of an extra camisole layer under low-cut tops. I stopped wearing my garments about a year ago, but I haven’t yet found a good substitute undergarment for clingy silk tops that turn completely pitty after one wearing next to my skin. One of those Shade tops, probably. I need to get my hands on one to reduce my dry-cleaning bills.

  26. makakona, sorry, I’ve been away on vacation and didn’t see your reply until just now. I didn’t mean to say you were “disrespecting” the garment at all. I am a firm believer in that people need to wear it how it feels right to them. I don’t like getting bodily fluids on mine (I don’t wear them for heavy sweating exercises or work, either), but I certianly don’t judge others who do. I sometimes only wear bottoms, and I’m sure others would find that use disrespectful, but it feels OK for me to do it. Sorry I came across as judgmental before.

  27. Not that I have anything new to add, but here’s my 2 cents –

    When I am nursing, I wear mine under, because I’m one of those women who leaks like crazy if I don’t have a nursing pad pressed right up against my skin. With the garments being so slippery, the pad doesn’t stay in one place if they are under the bra.

    Otherwise, I wear mine over, because my garments tend to creep up and the bra holds them in place. When I’m nursing, I seriously can’t wear anything that’s cut lower than the top of my collarbone. >.<

  28. I don’t think I said this in my earlier comments but I really want to thank everybody for their perspective. Particularly the comments on nursing – they were very enlightening.

    Shelley, I missed your comment earlier. I hope you had a good experience at the temple. I like what you said about the evolution of meaning to the garment. I think that definitely impacts our image of them although I still think they have a dual meaning, both physical and spiritual, for many people. That could be a whole other post …

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