Help me find an awesome comfortable durable supportive strapless bra!
March 25, 2014 12:39 PM   Subscribe

I seem to have had bad luck in terms of finding well-fitting strapless bras. I'm looking for a comfortable strapless bra that holds everything up properly for the entire evening without requiring trips to the bathroom to tug it up (!!!). I'm around a 34/36 C/D.

I want this for semi-regular use (i.e. this isn't a one-off for a wedding or anything), so it needs to be quite durable. I'm not concerned with how ugly the bra itself looks, and would in fact far prefer something plain and streamlined rather than lacy. I'd love a nude-colored one in particular for its versatility and inconspicuousness under clothing, but this isn't a must. I'm a broke grad student, but am at this point willing to shell out pretty much however much as it costs for one really excellent sturdy comfortable supportive strapless bra. Please tell me such a thing exists, and where to find it (specific brand recommendations of such bras currently for sale would be fab)! (In addition to a pony, I would also love a backless strapless bra, as I have found some really cute summer dresses that are both backless and have thin straps. Does a supportive backless strapless bra exist for such clothing, or are these dresses the preserve of the small breasted who can venture outdoors bra-less?)
posted by ClaireBear to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I am always going to recommend a Wacoal, primarily for excellent fit and engineering.

Try a Long Lines bra, that should do strapless and backless.

Go in and get professionally fitted for such an item. I recommend Nordstrom, they may have other items to offer.

One thing you might do is have a seamstress use some of the hem of the dress to fashion a more sturdy strap for you so that you can wear a regular, well-fitting, supportive bra.

Now, I am large-busted myself and I do believe that some of these adorable dresses are the province of those who are more willowy in build.

It sucks, but there it is.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:54 PM on March 25, 2014

When was the last time you got a bra fitting? Strapless bras always slid down on me, but after I got fitted, I got a cheapass strapless H&M bra in my new size and it totally stays put. And I'm not exactly easy to support.

Most of the support from any bra, straps or not, will come from the band itself, so making sure you have the right band size is extra crucial for going strapless.

Here's a super helpful AskMe about getting fitted that might interest you.
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:55 PM on March 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

I *swear* by the Bali Women's Concealers Convertible Strapless Underwire Bra. I have 4 or 5 at this point and basically live in them because they're the only bras I've been able to find that don't stab me in the armpit. I never have to yank them up.
posted by brilliantine at 12:55 PM on March 25, 2014

You can find a strapless bra for pretty much any set of boobs, including large and mobile ones much larger than yours. Ask me how I know!

The important thing, of course, is getting properly fitted. Stay far away from Victoria's Secret. If you have a Nordstrom anywhere in your area, go there. Otherwise, look for a specialty lingerie store that sells brands such as Elomi, Panache, Goddess, etc. You know -- the kind of place like they have on that show Double Divas on Lifetime. I am a J cup, but these brands have smaller ones. And even at a J cup, they manage to make me feel like I am NOT wearing something created by a small army of old ladies with engineering degrees.

The most important thing in most bras -- and particularly strapless ones -- is the band. I have a 50" bust measurement, but I still wear a 38 band. The band will take the bulk of the support, even on bras with straps. And if it's properly fitted, it won't dig into your back and create rolls.

Also, if you think you can deal with it, consider finding a backless bra with clear straps. Maybe it'd be less noticeable than you think.

They also have those stick-on bras (don't laugh) that come in a variety of styles, including some that are more like separate paper shells and some that are more like chicken cutlets. Even if you don't think you need cutlets for your already-ample cleavage, try them anyway.
posted by Madamina at 12:55 PM on March 25, 2014

Nthing make sure you're fitted properly, because the band's the thing. I always thought I was a 36C but after getting fitted at Nordstrom, it turns out I'm a 34D. That band is not going anywhere, which was definitely not true when I was wearing a band that was too big.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 1:02 PM on March 25, 2014

I have successfully used adhesive silicone bras or the giant band-aid kind (I'm about your size) for times when I don't expect to do any dancing or running around.

Nordstrom stocks (in store, not on-line) some really good long line strapless bras. I feel more secure in a longline than just a strapless. At any rate, you'll want to try on a range of sizes with assistance of a good fitter to get one that you don't feel you have to tug at all night. Look for the ones with silicone grippers inside.

Even with an excellent bra, I use fashion tape with strapless dresses.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:04 PM on March 25, 2014

Thanks all - very helpful so far! I have to admit that I've never actually been fitted: it's mostly been a process of trial and error (involving mostly cheap bras and/or seconds at places like Marshalls or T. J. Maxx). It sounds like it's possible that the band of my bra is too big, so it's not being properly supportive (I often find the straps a bit painful). I have been wearing it that way in a bid to avoid that "muffin-top" look where there is a bulge at the top of the bra-band, which seems to happen with tighter bands. Maybe I should look into something long-line. I have trouble getting regular bras to fit as well, not just strapless. Is there any way for me to fit myself through measuring and then buying something discounted online rather than going in to get measured and shelling out for a full-price bra there?
posted by ClaireBear at 1:04 PM on March 25, 2014

You really do have to try on everything. Some look good on the rack but pooch out on a person, and vice versa. Some brands will have an awesome soft-cup plunge front that fits way better than their nearly identical "regular" soft cup. You'll be one size in one brand and another size in another brand (particularly if you find some British brand or whatever).

It is SO worth it to buy at least one or two Good Bras. They'll last way longer than the cheapies. Go get measured and buy just one... or if you get measured and like something, find that exact bra online in some discounted color. (But that's a bit rude, especially if it's an indie local store, so be nice...)

There's just no comparison.
posted by Madamina at 1:07 PM on March 25, 2014

Check out flex's awesome bra post on the blue.
posted by lalex at 1:11 PM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

(It includes a couple links about DIY fitting)
posted by lalex at 1:13 PM on March 25, 2014

A Bra That Fits is really the go to resource for a proper fitting at home. The other thing you can do is go to Nordstrom, get fitted, try on a ton of bras while you're there but not buy, or only buy the cheapest one. Then go buy your favorites from ebay for 1/3 the price. Not good for your Karma but very good for your finances.
posted by Requiax at 1:14 PM on March 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

Nordstrom (or any specialty bra shop) is always worth the time and money.
posted by radioamy at 1:24 PM on March 25, 2014

I recommend the Va Bien Strapless bra without reservation. It's convertible, and after I bought the first one, for a long time, I'd wear it as my regular bra. I buy them online now, but I found it by accident on an emergency strapless bra hunt for a wedding at....Lord & Taylor I think. Magic fingers! Maybe it won't work for you, but definitely give it a try!
posted by atomicstone at 1:41 PM on March 25, 2014

Is there any way for me to fit myself through measuring and then buying something discounted online rather than going in to get measured and shelling out for a full-price bra there?

Note that cheapest Nordstom's prices aren't that unreasonable; the Calvin Klein brand bras, for example, are around $30-40, which is not *so* much more expensive than what you can find on ebay.

I say this as a fellow, busty, broke grad student: It is worth paying $50-70 for a bra that fits, *especially* for a strapless bra. It will last longer- I'm willing to bet you have straps that wear out fairly quickly, as you mentioned them digging in-and will be so much more comfortable (and flattering!).
posted by damayanti at 1:42 PM on March 25, 2014

I really like my Wacoal strapless bra, but it's all about getting one that fits properly, and learning how to put it on correctly.

Definitely go get fitted! You'll probably be shocked at what your real size actually is, I thought I was a 40B and it turns out I'm actually a 36DD. I went to Nordstroms and bought only one bra--the salespeope were great and didn't pressure me into buying anything else.

I did a lot of research online before I went in to get fitted, I read the fit guides at a bra that fits, ordered some bras from well loved brands like Freya online...and they just didn't fit perfectly. It was definitely worth it to go and spend the money to buy a bra in person.
posted by inertia at 3:18 PM on March 25, 2014

A Bra That Fits has basically everything you need for this endeavor--self-fitting guide that's way more helpful than anything else I've tried, lots of good responses to really specific fitting questions including lots already asked about strapless, and info about things like the bulging over the back band ("swoop and scoop" along with a large enough cup size should reduce this). Fit yourself, try on a variety of brands in person (check the clearance rack, too: it's organized by size where the regular stuff is usually not and the price can be comparable to TJMaxx etc), take notes, then watch for deals online knowing the odds of not returning your shipment are now in your favor.
posted by zizania at 4:21 PM on March 25, 2014

Yeah, you can go put down a little cash on 1 bra and a fitting and your life will improve, or you can keep wearing crappy fitting bras. I find it very, very hard to measure myself, but YMMV.
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:40 PM on March 25, 2014

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