Wedding Bras: Strapless Hurray Kimmay Blog

Hey there, it’s (always) wedding season!

I have fit thousands of people for bras. And many of those women were shopping for their undergarments for their or someone else’s wedding day. Hurray! Many women had a really specific idea of what they were looking for. Some had already found their bridal gown or their bridesmaid dress was assigned to them, and now they’re looking for the bra and undergarments to wear underneath. A few were just shopping for a bra or two to bring to their dress appointment.

I highly suggest giving your undergarments some thought before saying yes to the dress – whether you’re the bride, a bridesmaid, or a wedding guest. Whether you want to stick with a basic bra or go with a stick-on bra, it matters what you wear that day! Believe me {as a married lady, bridesmaid several times, wedding guest MULTIPLE times, and as a bra fitter} you will have a lot happening on a wedding day. You want to be able to give your full attention to your loved ones, have fun with your friends, and dance the night away. Previously, we explored the purpose and pros and cons of a longline bra. Today we’re exploring a very popular style that many different people can wear: the strapless bra.

Kimmay wearing strapless and tank top on the Hurray Kimmay blog

What is a strapless bra? 

A strapless bra is a bra that has a band – the part that wraps around your torso – and cups, but no straps. They are specifically designed to stay up and to support and shape your bust without the aid of straps.

What is the purpose of a strapless bra? 

Because of its strap-free design, a strapless bra is mostly meant to be worn without the straps. This allows the freedom to have support while wearing several top and dress silhouettes without showing the strap of your undergarment. In most cases, a strapless bra comes with adjustable, detachable straps and several places to hook them onto the bra. Because of this, modern day strapless bras can convert to suit many different dresses and style needs.

Different silhouettes that work with strapless bras

You can wear a basic strapless bra under these silhouettes:

  • Strapless
  • Boat neck
  • Spaghetti straps
  • Sheer top
  • Lace Overlay
  • Halter
  • Racer back or cut-in design
  • Off the shoulder

Read more about the Four Basic Ways to Wear a Strapless Bra, including how to use the straps to create different silhouettes!

Keep in mind that a basic strapless bra is designed with a band that wraps from just underneath your bust, straight around your back. That means if your dress has a low back, this is not the bra for you. Now, if your dress has a very slight dip in the back and some good, solid construction, you can just lower the back a bit. Disclaimer: My worry here is that you may manipulate the band down and then sacrifice support in the front. Don’t do that! Your strapless bra may be two electric slides away from slipping all the way down your torso. If you really want to do that, make sure your gown has some real built in support already. A loose slip dress won’t be able to aid in holding the bra in place. A bustier top or gown with boning and a snug fit can totally work.

Pro tip: In fact, many people end up buying a strapless bra and having their seamstress sew or tack the bra into the gown so it lines up perfectly. Pllleeeeaaassee take it to a real seamstress or tailor and do not ask your Aunt Edna who makes pillowcases to do this to save a few bucks. If Edna is a dressmaker, hurray. If she is not, don’t stress her or yourself out.

Kimmay wearing strapless bra under vintage dress on Hurray Kimmay Blog

Tips for Choosing and Wearing a Strapless Bra

Color: Make sure you wear a color that suits your dress or gown. If you’re wearing a white(ish) wedding gown, you might be able to do an ivory or white bra to match the dress. Chances are you’ll be better off in something closer to your skin tone. If your’e wearing a dark gown, try a strapless bra in a darker color. Colors from dark clothing can rub off onto ivory or light neutral bras – making them look gray or dirty.

Bodice: Check the front of the bra and make sure it matches the silhouette of your gown. If the bodice goes straight across and covers the bust, you can wear a fuller coverage bra. That’s sorta ideal in a strapless. The reason is because where the underwire and the band meet in-between your breasts (the center gore) can be taller and it can really tack snugly and firmly against your body. This is often much more secure than a strapless bra with a very short or thin center gore. You can totally get a supportive fit in a plunging strapless bra, but it’s worth considering as you’re trying on bras and dresses.

Dance worthy: Ask yourself this: “Can I dance in this strapless bra?” Test it before you buy it. I’m not kidding. In the bra fitting room, do a few moves, get down, and see if the bra stays up. Weddings are celebrations and often include big dance parties late into the evening. in fact, it’s my favorite part of wedding receptions. At our own wedding, we skipped the entire garter and bouquet toss, cake cutting, and other traditions and asked the DJ to keep the set going from the first dance until the last call. Do not skip dancing to your favorite song because your strapless bra is now a belt. Make sure it’s dance worthy.

Band: Want a really secure fit? Go with a band that is wider so it can really hug your body. Silicone grippers or other stick material can help, but they’re really not required if the band fits well. Does the band match with the shape of your bridesmaid dress or wedding gown? If the armholes are really low or the back dips to show your bra, you may want to try a different style. As always, buy a new bra that fits snug on the loosest hook. That way, as it stretches, you can move it in and in.

Cup Style: One of the biggest issues I run into with strapless bra wearers has nothing to do with it sliding down. It’s fear: “this big molded cup will make me look bigger!” I have heard it MANY times, especially from fuller bust women. A few things to remember: 1) A molded bra is not a push up bra. It simply molds your bust to the shape of the bra. Yes, your bust may look fuller than when you wear your regular minimizer bra. But no, you did not add any volume or create more bust. 2) A molded cup is constructed to maintain its shape. That means, even without straps to keep the cup up and flush with your bosom, it can help you keep your desired bust shape.

Often times a molded bra is the best option for a secure and shapely fit. It’s certainly not the only one, though! There are several non molded styles with a lace, or smooth cup. In my experience, the molded strapless bra has been the most popular in terms of support and shape.

Underwire: As a molded cup provides the most popular shape in a strapless bra, an underwire provides the most popular support. If you want a lifted, round shape, this is the way to go. Make sure that the cup size (and thus, the underwire) is big enough to fit your ENTIRE breast inside. The underwire should really be resting on your body – not on your breast or floating away. If the cup is too small, it won’t be able to anchor or “tack” against your body in the front, between your bust.

Want to skip the underwire? Try looking for a “bandeau” style strapless bra. These may be made of lace or a smooth material. Some have hooks in the back and others just slip over the head. Like a bralette, they’re not as sturdy or structured as a typical strapless bra. They’re a hit with people I’ve fit for casual occasions or even for petite busted ladies who just want a little bit of shape or coverage. I I’ve also worn one over a bra for some coverage in a very plunging neckline dress.

Fit: As a longtime bra fitter, it’s my sacred duty to inform you that the straps of your bra are not really responsible for the majority of the support you get from your bra. It’s really the band that does the heavy lifting. So, in theory, a strapless bra that stays up and does its job can/should be easy to find if you’re wearing the right size and style for your body. I know it’s tough, though. I know! So I’m here to help. 

When it comes to the cup, underwire, and band – how it FITS is the REAL key here. A poorly fitting basic bra can ruin your day. A poorly fitting strapless bra can turn any day into a nightmare. Use my Top 5 Bra Fit Tips video and PDF when checking the band, cups, underwire, and feel of your strapless bra. {You can skip the part about the straps.} The same rules apply!

Kimmay wearing Le Mystere strapless bra

Pros (hurrays) & Cons (what-the-hays) of strapless bras

Pros:

  • It opens up your silhouette options for the bodice of your gown
  • Wear with or without straps for your own designed comfort
  • You can wear a great basic strapless bra again and again
  • It’s easy to put on without anyone’s help
  • It’s easy to take off without anyone’s help
  • They are generally more reasonably priced than a longline bra or bridal bustier
  • They are carried in many store locations or online
  • Design options include plunge front, push up, full coverage, and more
  • Style options include basic and smooth, lace, colorful, and more
  • In recent years, strapless bra options have really exploded!

Cons:

  • No extra help from the straps to stay up
  • Not as secure as a basic bra or a longline bra
  • Not ideal for low back gowns or dresses
  • Works best with a molded cup, which is not ideal for every breast shape
  • Non molded styles tend to be very full coverage or floppy looking
  • Finding one that fits well and feels great without help can be tough

Kimmay wears strapless bra under halter dress

From Hurray Kimmay Readers & Friends

Krista in strapless dress at wedding

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with strapless bras. In my world, they are like flying, necessary evil. As a woman wearing a 32G bra, strapless bras in my size have a lot of work to do compared to their counterparts. While in a traditional bra the band should support the weight of the breasts, it still gets by with a little help from its friends the straps. In general, I avoid styles that are strapless because even though the ones I have work pretty decently, after about 8 hours, I’m ready to scream. The band is digging into my torso leaving unflattering marks and my back is starting to hurt. At this wedding, I was a guest of honor with the special job of helping with seating and ensuring the bride had a clear path to walk down the aisle at her outdoor wedding. She’s a dear friend of mine from college and she wanted me to look “hot” so I went with this dress. I absolutely loved it so I put up with the discomfort that started to creep in around the first dance. But I will let you in on a little secret, by the end of the evening, I was taking this bad boy off in the parking lot for the ride back to the hotel. What a relief!
Krista P.

Krista is 37 and is wearing the Va Bien Ultra-Lift Strapless Bra in size 32G (it’s available for B-I cup sizes!)

Krista P in strapless bra under her wedding dressPhoto Credit: Carson Moore Photography

So overall I was super impressed with the strapless. It didn’t dig or slide at all, it didn’t make me, at any point, envision cutting it off and lighting it on fire so that’s an overall win when it comes to strapless bras. I’ve worn it several times since then and it’s been impressive. The only thing I would say is after awhile it feels itchy* along the support band.

-Lacie J. 

Lacie is 32 and is wearing the Soma Stunning Support Strapless Bra in size 40C. She was married on December 31, 2016.

*PS: If your bra is itchy, try hand washing it with lingerie wash. It will rinse out the fabric stiffeners and keep the elastic soft.

Ali wearing her strapless bra under her wedding dressPhoto credit: Chandler Kim

I wore a strapless bra from Victoria’s Secret with my wedding dress. It was nice because it was padded which gave me a better shape than I usually have, and helped me fill out the dress a little better. The bra had a little bit of grip to it so I didn’t have to constantly pull it up, but it still did slip down a few times while dancing. Overall I would say I was pretty happy with the bra and my choice to wear strapless!

-Ali Likes

Ali is 33 and wore a Victoria’s Secret Very Sexy Multi-Way Strapless Bra in size 32B. She was married on August 7th, 2016.

Kate C in her strapless bra in bridesmaid's dress

I mean being a bridesmaid is tough enough… having to pay for and rock a dress you don’t really want. And on top of it, you most likely will have to wear a strapless bra with it. It will be sliding down AND suffocating you all at once. If you have to rock a strapless dress as a bride or bridesmaid, I recommend doing the “raise the roof” test to see if your dress, and your bra, will stay up. Works like a charm every time. But regardless, like I always say, life sucks in a strapless bra, am I right?

-Kate C.

Kate is a writer in Philadelphia and the owner of LifeSucksInAStraplessBra.com

Sarah P in a strapless bra under her wedding dressPhoto credit: F-Sequence Studio

I liked the strapless bra I wore because it was easy and cheap and stayed hidden – I didn’t want to splurge on special lingerie I’d only wear once.

-Sarah P.

Sarah is age 28, and bought her strapless bra at a Marshall’s. She typically wears size 32A and was married May 20th, 2013.

Strapless! Strapless! Get your strapless bra, here! Looking for a strapless bra that actually supports, shapes, and stays in place? I got you, girl. Don’t miss my round up of the best strapless bras for every size bust! And if you need extra help, you can always check in on your bra size starting points, watch and read my Top 5 Bra Fit Tips, and book a bra fitting with yours truly,

Your Turn: Have you ever worn a strapless bra to a wedding? Were you the bride, a bridesmaid, or a guest? How did you feel in it? What questions do you have about strapless bras? What insights do you have to share? Leave a comment here and chime in!

xoxo kimmay

Style notes: I’m wearing the Le Mystere Soiree Strapless Bra in size 32E in “Natural” and the Prima Donna Divine Strapless Bra in 32E in “Black”.

Credits: The photos of yours truly were taken by Corinne Louie. I never airbrush or edit my body or face or anything! If you see a roll, a stretch mark, or an “imperfection”, I hope you also see love.

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