Lets begin this series of posts with one of the most important pieces in your lingerie wardrobe: The strapless bra. There are certain things you have to look for in a good strapless. You MUST try on strapless bras and find one that works best for your shape and the outfit you are wearing it with. Considering the height of the cup, the fabric used and the width of the back. This is just a guide, as it truly depends on the shape of your own bust to determine the correct cut to go for.
Things to consider when purchasing a strapless bra
#1 What size are you?
It's important to consider shapes when it comes to being a different cup size. If you are around an A to a small D then you can opt for something with a normal bra width back. But if you are a fuller cup or need more support you must look out for a nice wide back. Something with 3 hooks rather than 2 will be better going into a full D cup and above. The effect becomes almost like wearing a bustier. Giving a longer line through the side and offering a more sturdy base for support.
If you are fuller and or softer in the bust, then you want a style that comes up and over in the cup not sitting too low as you will find you jiggle and move too much without the straps, then you have risk of popping out. Make sure you do a jumping test to make sure it stays put.
If you are more petite and want a boost, then you can opt for a padded style. But make sure it closes in fully on the top section of your bust, as with extra inserts you often find it pushing the bra cup forward creating an unsightly line once you pop a dress on over it. Even a moulded cup strapless will give you a nice full profile without needing the extra padding.
#2 What colour/fabric outfit are you wearing it with?
The staple piece everyone should have is a skin coloured strapless bra. Something as close to your skin tone as possible. It can be worn under most of your garments however do not wear this under a dark colour fabric as #1 the colour may rub off onto the bra and can be hard to clean #2 it often shows up under flash photography. And there is nothing worse than looking through all your photos the next day and realising you cannot post any of them onto Facebook as you can see the whole outline of your basic beige bra. So if you are wearing a dark stretch fabric, like say a jersey, then you must wear a dark strapless bra. Rigid fabrics like a silk are more forgiving, it tends to be the stretch ones that will become a little sheer once pulled tight on the bust.
#3 What shape is the outfit?
You have to consider the shape of the outfit you are wearing with your strapless. If it dips low in the front, on the sides, is v shaped in the back... These are all things you can adjust slightly with the right strapless. You must have one with silicone strips sewn into the band so it doesn't slip around the body and you can position your back straps a little lower than you normally would. If you have a dress that sits extremely low in the back or exposes quite a lot on the sides then a silicone or stick on bra might be a better option. I don't love these items but sometimes they are the only things that will work. I don't think they give a lot of support but it will at least give you the coverage if a normal strapless will show through under your dress. I will talk more about these in another post (backless).
Issues that arise from strapless bras
#1 Not enough cleavage
Unfortunately a bra without straps isn't going to give as much lift as a bra with straps. So don't go in thinking it will give the exact cleavage look as your best push up bra. The shape is usually more like a balconette which is gives an upward lift but not pushing you in towards the center as much. It can still create a nice full look, so make sure you try your dress over it to see. You can find strapless bras that dip lower in the middle but just make sure the sides and section over the nipple does sit high enough to still cup your bust enough to center it.
#2 Back Fat
People usually wear their strapless bras tighter than a normal bra just to feel more supported. Unfortunately if you wear it too tight you may see some back fat. Even on the smallest of frames, it happens. So if you are wearing a very fine fabric over the top make sure your strapless isn't done up too tight creating back or side ridges. If it has silicone on the band, it will stay put. The only rule is don't wear mouisturiser and opt for a better quality bra with better quality silicone to help it not slip.
#3 Bra showing through in sections
Make sure you take your outfit down with you when trying on strapless bras. One trick if your bra peeks through where it shouldn't is double sided tape. Pop it onto the top section of your bra and press your outfit down onto it to keep it from not showing through. Under certain outfits you may need a lower side, more plunge cut, minimal back option. So think carefully about what exactly you need and the line you need to follow.
Quick guide and recap...
A basic strapless is a moulded bra designed to just cup the bust naturally giving a slight upward lift. Creating a nice rounded silhouette under an outfit. This is the most practical and common style strapless bra around. It is usually wider in the middle and sits like a balconette shape, almost straight across the bust.
Push up Strapless
The push up strapless works best for a more petite bust. Make sure that the garment closes in completely in the top section or you will get an unsightly line once you wear your dress over it. This style will boost you up a little but remember, without the straps, you wont get the exact same push up effect as your normal boosting bra. Look for extra inserts in the bottom/side section of the bra for a push "in" effect.
The fuller style strapless is the most comfortable style to wear and is best for a fuller bust. Something that cups the bust completely and has a nice wide back for support and minimal movement. Just be careful how low your dress sits as to not have your bra show through.
Low plunge strapless/torsolette
The low LOW plunge strapless may work with certain low cut outfits, however the main concern is the not so smooth lines this style tends to create under a finer fabric. The shape to the cup often creates a line through the middle of the bust as well as the wide under bust shape sometimes making unsightly bulges if it cuts into the meatier portion of the body. Better with heavier fabrics and low front and back garments.
Often women come to me in search of a strapless corset thinking they can kill two birds with one stone. Supportive and control... Unfortunately this isn't normally the case. Yes a longer line can sometimes create a more supported feel but often the structure make this harder to wear under your garments. Boning in a corset can show through under your finer fabrics again creating a more obvious line. Better reserved for heavy fabric or loser fitting garments. There are smoothline options, like the corset above, however it isn't designed to give the tuck that women think it will. The corset can sometimes create unsightly bulges on the hip where the corset ends when worn tightly. Best reserved for garments that flare from where the corset ends not outfts fitted all the way through.
If you are wanting to go for a smoother line throughout, maybe try a strapless bodysuit. These garments dont usually have boning unless in the side section but can still smooth things out. Just be careful of the panty line in the back and that the length is correct for you as sometimes on a longer torso they may pull down and on a shorter torso bunch up... You must look for a firmer fabric and something that does fit nice and tight on the underbust or you will be forever pulling it up, as these garments often don't have bra hooks to tighten in the back if it stretches. Look out for a wide elastic through the back section for support like a normal bra. These garments don't give the best boosting effect and just cup the bust but are good for a smoother overall line through the torso.