Some people think that writing about fashion is all fun and frivolity, but actually, some items of clothing can be quite controversial. Jeans. Bathing suits. Crop tops. Thong underwear. These are not the topics of polite conversation. Rather, they often spur intense, heated debates. But, arguably, no item of clothing is more controversial, and more universally loathed, than the strapless bra.
But, unlike thong underwear, the strapless bra doesn’t deserve its bad rap.
Don’t believe me? Ask yourself this: How long has it been since you bought a strapless bra.
If your answer is eons ago, and your last one was purchased pre-kids, when everything was happy and perky and you just needed a wee bit of support, then it’s time for an update. And an upgrade. That sad threadbare strapless isn’t doing your favorite cocktail dress any favors. I’m telling you this as your friend.
So that said, how do you find that elusive perfect strapless bra. You start where you would start the search for any bra. With a fitting. The best place to get a bra fitting is a high-end department store, such as Neiman Marcus, or a specialty lingerie boutique, like Intimacy. If you don’t have access to an experienced bra fitting expert, and a trip to a nearby metropolis isn’t in the cards, the next best thing is to go to a tailor. A good tailor will be able to take accurate measurements so that you can determine your bra size. There are also oodles of great online resources, like these measuring instructions and this extremely helpful video from Bare Necessities.
Once you know your bra size, it’s time to shop for a strapless bra that will have you looking for opportunities to wear it. Just follow these simple tips.
As always, I’ve compiled a helpful catalog with all of the top-rated, BM-approved strapless bras, so check it out for one-stop shopping.
1. Decide what you need:
Start with a good, basic strapless. The most versatile is seamless (no lace) style in a nude color. If you are large-busted, look for a bra with a 3-hook closure in the back and a wider band below the bust. A double 3-hook closure (two rows of hooks) offers even more security and support. If you are looking for a second or third strapless, or need a specialty bra for a specific outfit, then you can branch out a little and try strapless, longline, bustier, bodybriefer and even adhesive styles.
2. Go Shopping
Head to the nearest decent lingerie retailer. Take at least half a dozen styles into the dressing room, at a minimum. Along with that bra fitting expert or a trusted friend. If not, you’re going to have to go online. Fortunately, the top lingerie retailers have generous shipping and return policies, so you can buy a few styles, try them on in the comfort of home, and return the ones that don’t work. I’ve assembled all of the top picks shown here in my Lingerie Catalog, or try Figleaves, Bare Necessities or Herroom.
And since I’d never send you shopping empty-handed, after hours of research and a lot of trial and error (hello – uniboob) I have rounded up the 8 best strapless bras for small-to-average busts, and the 8 best strapless bras for large busts. And I’ve told you why they are so awesome.
3. Find Your Fit
When you try a bra on, lean over at the waist and make sure that your bust is positioned properly in the cups of your bra before clasping it. And then look for these 3 signs that it fits:
A. It is snug. A strapless bra should be snug. Very snug. You should be able to bend over and jump up and down and dance around. It. Shouldn’t. Budge. If it does, it’s not the right bra.
B. Look for spillage. There should be no tissue spilling out over the sides, under the arms, or at the top of the bra. You only need two lumps. Not four. 😉
C. The gore, the center piece of fabric between the breasts, should sit flat against the skin.
Size matters. Obviously. A small bust will benefit from a push-up or padded style. A large bust needs support. And remember, unless you are super-perky, an adhesive bra is not going to be the best choice for a very large bust. Try it if you insist, but don’t expect a lot of lift. A better option, when you need a strapless and backless solution, is a longline bra or bodybriefer. Fortunately, they’ve come a long way since the ones you wore to prom in high school. Find one that allows you to move and doesn’t push out your belly fat. Or maybe that’s just me.