Strapless bra all day, every day?
February 17, 2021 9:38 PM   Subscribe

Due to shoulder/neck pain, I can’t handle bras with shoulder straps. Do you know of a strapless bra or bandeau comfortable enough to wear as a primary bra?

I largely stopped wearing bras about a year ago, due to weaning from breastfeeding and the pandemic. My current workaround is no bra, a t-shirt, and a loose button down or jacket on top.

However, as the weather starts to warm up, there might be times I’d like to wear just a single t-shirt, without an over shirt or jacket.

Additionally, I occasionally need to break into a run with my toddler and a bit of support would be lovely. I’m a B or a C cup, so I don’t need a ton of support, but I do get some breast pain occasionally and I suspect more support might help.

Especially after breastfeeding, I have prominent, often erect nipples, so I don’t feel comfortable being in public with just a t-shirt and no bra.

My priorities are:
1. Comfort
2. Increased modesty
3. Support

I tried a cheap bandeau type bra from Amazon, and it’s fine but not comfortable enough for me to put on daily (maybe once a week). Happy to pay some money for something perfect.

I’m happy to hear alternative suggestions too, but anything with a shoulder strap (like bra tank tops, etc.) won’t work at the moment. Thanks!
posted by bananacabana to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Okay, so unlike kschang, I am not only a bra wearing person, but I used to fit bras! Hurrah!

A well fitted bra should not be putting constant weight on your shoulders. The bulk of the support should come from a well fitting band. Shoulder straps do carry a bit of weight, but they should only be putting any strain on you at all during trying times. Try and find time to get yourself fitted. I have a toddler too, I know how hard it is to find time in the schedule, but a professional fitter at a high end department store or lingerie specialist (not Victoria's Secret!) will be able to help.

Basically, strapless bras mostly distribute weight around the body by being very tight, especially minimalist bandeau types. Basically they pinch like motherfuckers.

Your next best option is a strapless long line bra or torsolette. Something like this or this, for a less structured option. The wider band will distribute the weight more evenly and be less pinchy.

That said, after weaning you really do need to be at least trying things on, if you can't see a fitter for whatever reason. Your tissue will have changed and your fit will be different. If you order online, get the two sizes closest to your fit and try them on before committing.
posted by Jilder at 4:13 AM on February 18 [11 favorites]

People at the A Bra That Fits subreddit will likely have suggestions (though I suspect many will echo what Jilder said above about fit & straps—it’s common for bras to put more weight on straps/shoulders when the band is too large, which is common because most bra manufacturers are terrible at making bras in the size ranges necessary.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 4:48 AM on February 18 [2 favorites]

This option from Wacoal is the first strapless bra that I’ve ever worn that is comfortable and that I actually look forward to wearing. It stays put throughout the day and is supportive. FYI, I’m a few cup sizes larger (DDD).
posted by icaicaer at 4:58 AM on February 18

Apologies because I know this is not what you're asking for - it does go over the shoulders - but would a high-neck, full-back style bra work for you, maybe something like this (not recommending that particular brand, just it's a good picture of the kind of thing I'm talking about)? I don't use these because I find them really difficult to get into and out of, but when I've tried them on I'm no more aware of the shoulder/neck region than I am when I wear a shirt. Maybe you are only just barely tolerating having a shirt on your shoulders and I am way off here! But this style has gotten much more popular over the past few years and I'm not sure whether you would have tried one like it before.
posted by mskyle at 5:14 AM on February 18

If you don't need a lot of support, would a shirt with some moulded cups work? I have some from Uniqlo that I wear at home, but that don't necesarily provide enough support for me to wear outside the house - but I'm an E cup.

I don't know where you are, but the Japanese Uniqlo has this model, for example. Since it doesn't go by bra size, but just clothing size, fit can be hit or miss and depend on the model a lot - I have some that fit me great and some where the band is too loose if I buy a top that contains all my breast tissue without cutting it off.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 5:26 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]

If you get a well-fitting regular bra such that the band is providing most of the support, removing the straps completely might provide you with enough support for your purposes, particularly in comparison to not wearing a bra at all. You could test by loosening the straps fully and letting them drop over your arms (or not putting your arms through the straps) before any making permanent alteration.
posted by plonkee at 5:50 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]

Your search is “strapless long line bra”. Sogoddamn comfortable.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:02 AM on February 18 [2 favorites]

I had an amazing nursing tank top that had triangle "cups" but no structure and very little compression. It was made of soft jersey with double thickness over just the cups. Just enough to very slightly support and cover but easy to pull aside for nursing. Not enough pressure or structure to add any discomfort to the breasts or shoulders, in my experience. No clips or openings so it's wearable after weaning, too. The only structure came from a non-elastic horizontal seam under the "cups", where a bra band would be.

Mine was from Old Navy a few years ago, I think they've discontinued them but they were very similar to this and this. They keyword to search seems to be "crossover nursing tank".
posted by nouvelle-personne at 8:27 AM on February 18

What about shapewear t-shirts, since they have sleeves and are meant to be supportive?
posted by QuakerMel at 8:53 AM on February 18

I like these from Aerie.

If avoiding nipple show is your primary concern, a loose tank top without an internal bra will probably do the trick even more comfortably.
posted by metasarah at 11:24 AM on February 18

There is also the UBra, which is a bit of a Marmite option. I've tried it, and decided after a while not to go with it, but it's more effective than you'd expect. If you try it, DO NOT lose the plastic that protects the sticky surface - use it!
posted by Pentickle at 1:51 PM on February 18

Felina Longline Strapless bra (at Amazon). Longline roundup at Bustle. Angel Seamless Underwire Bandeau Bra (also at Amazon; Target results for "strapless underwire bandeau bra"). If you find something supportive that is too sheer, tucking in nursing pads might help.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:43 AM on February 19

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