Thursday, 28 August 2014

The retro bra buying guide: Strapless bras

Ah, strapless bras. The natural enemy of the busty lady! If strapless dresses weren’t so beautiful, I would happily burn all my strapless bras and dance around the flames. But the fact is, we need them. If we want to wear Shaheen dresses, or showstopping cocktail frocks, we need to make peace with strapless bras. I’ve done a lot of experimenting over the years, so here’s my guide to (non-vintage) strapless options for the busty lady.


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You’ll be able to find these in any lingerie or department store. The one I own is a push-up style, but the push-up stopped working when the plastic boning buckled on the second wear. (Ouch my ribs!) A couple of years ago, I invented a clever but un-sexy workaround, where I would wear a strapless Wonderbra with the corsolette over the top. It actually works pretty well! You feel a bit crazy doing it, but once you get your dress on, you’ll have cleavage for days.


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While planning my outfits for a trip to Hawaii, I came to the sad conclusion that I would need to wear a strapless bra in tropical weather. Gross. I didn’t want to wear a corsolette, so I paid a visit to Brava, the D cup and above specialty store. I always thought I was a lost cause when it came to modern strapless bras, but it turns out I just needed a smaller band size! I brought along a Shaheen dress just to check how each bra looked with my outfits, and came away with the Fantasie Smoothing strapless bra. It’s not the most comfortable bra I’ve ever owned, but at least it stays in place! The Fantasie looks okay with Hawaiian dresses and sun tops, but it doesn’t give the cleavage required for fancy cocktail dresses. 


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I’ve had such bad luck buying strapless bras online that I really wanted to try this one on before I bought it. I waited nearly three years, but I finally got the chance to visit the What Katie Did boutique in Los Angeles. Hooray! The Cabaret bustier is perfect to wear with vintage dresses, and the boned cups look particularly good with Hawaiian dresses. It gets two thumbs up from me! I'm actually wearing it in the main image on this post.

The only thing I haven’t tried yet is the Goddess Lace Longline Bra. I’ve read good things about it, but since it doesn’t come in my actual size, I’m going to step away. Sometimes when my size isn’t available in a particular bra, I just guess the closest alternative size and hope for the best. This is never a good plan with strapless bras. If you’re forced into buying a larger band size, that strapless bra will end up around your waist in no time. I’ve learned that one the hard way!

Do you have any tips for strapless survival? Share them in the comments, because the ladies need to know. And while you're here, don't forget to check out the Bullet Bra Buying Guide.


  1. I generally stay away from strapless dresses because I don't like strapless bras - even though I'm not a 'busty lady,' I always feel like they're not going to stay up! I'm going to have to try on the WKD cabaret bustier the next time I'm in London :)

    1. You're lucky you're close to London, because the UK brands have the best range of sizes for ladies with a small frame. As long as you get the band size small enough, it won't fall down! Here's a video showing the Wonderbra Ultimate Strapless being put to the "jump test". It's pretty convincing!

  2. Wow, very interesting. Personally I love articles about dresses especially by the way. Especially backless dresses which are combined with a breast sticker. I always use them in combination with breast stickers which is a breast tape. Ever seen that?

  3. I was looking for something like this..but would appreciate if i can get more info on Black Backless Disposable Bra..okay