Summer is here—and with it comes a slew of chic summery outfit options that may require one very specific undergarment. If your outfit involves a strapless, one-shoulder or halter neckline, a Y-back tank top or anything with a cutaway silhouette around the arms and shoulders, then you’re going to need a strapless bra to make it work.
Finding a winner doesn’t have to be Mission: Impossible, as long as you know what to look for in order to achieve a perfect fit. Seeking expert help can do wonders, too. “Most women are not wearing the correct bra size and this can greatly affect the staying power and comfort in a strapless bra,” says Marie Josée Koury, a Montreal-based fit specialist with Wacoal Canada. “If the band is too loose, it will not stay in place and will feel very uncomfortable. Buying the correct size becomes even more important in a strapless bra.” A professional fitting to verify your current size (because the girls are always evolving!) is the most effective approach to dialing down the frustration often attached with bra shopping.
With your correct sizing on hand, the search can begin. Koury recommends styles with tightly knitted fabric. “You want limited stretch, to ensure your bra will always fit you tightly over time, which is especially important in a strapless bra,” she says. She also looks for mesh-lined wings for enhanced contouring and support, plus medical-grade silicone along the inner edges for staying-put power. Another technical detail called side boning plays an important role. “It helps breast tissues stay forward, giving you a nice push, instead of spreading under your arms.”
At the trying on stage, there are several clues that a strapless won’t let you down beyond the change room. Snug is the ideal objective here: The band size should be tight but comfortable. Then, take a seat. “When we sit, our rib cage expands,” explains Koury, so it’s important to test whether you still feel comfortable. If sitting makes things too tight try adjusting the hook and eye position. Next, make sure everything is where it should be. “The underwire has to completely encircle the breast, and cups should be filled without overflowing or cutting into flesh. There also shouldn’t be any gap or space at the cup edge, and the front of the bra should rest flat against your sternum.” Lastly, check your angles to confirm a proper fit. “Ensure the back band is leveled with or lower than the front of the bra,” she says, “When you look at your side view the bra band should be parallel to the floor, not pulling up.”
For those who are in between sizes, Koury suggests choosing a style that fits a little tight and using a band extender as needed. “If that doesn’t work for you, another option is to get the band in the next size up and have an alteration made by a seamstress, like a dart on the wing. Some boutiques will offer this service,” she says. And if you have a fuller bustline, seeking out plus-size bras specially designed for ample curves can be a game-changer. “Look for strapless bras with wires that are long, at the cups they should be almost on the same level at the centre and under the arms. This will deliver more support and comfort,” she says.
What if everything on the checklist doesn’t check out? Give an alternate brand a try, because fit can vary amongst labels. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, may we suggest one of our faves? Read on to check out the best bras for every body type—and outfit type—offering everything from classic lace to low-key t-shirt.
Best strapless bra for everyday wear
Available up to a 42H cup, a cushioned lower band for increased comfort and security is just one of many ways this seamless number offers 360° of support.
Wacoal Red Carpet Strapless Bra, $85, wacoal.ca
Best strapless bra for a pop of colour
If you want your bra to show, this one is delightful.
Victoria’s Secret Sexy Illusions Strapless Bra, US$55, victoriassecret.com
Best strapless bra for low necklines
All chic, zero sacrifices—oversize lace and a plunge neckline on the outside meets flexible support on the inside.
Wonderbra Ultimate Lace Strapless Bra, $66, wonderbra.ca
Best strapless bra that doesn’t feel like a strapless bra
Florals for spring may not be ground-breaking—but a strapless bra adorned with such a lovely print is a pretty big deal. The noteworthy design runs 32B to 40DD.
La Vie En Rose Lightly Lined Memory Foam strapless bra, $55 USD, lavieenrose.com
Best strapless bra for small busts
From a line designed specifically for AA–C cup sizing, this fully convertible style caters to a petite bust.
Little Bra Company Sasha strapless bra, $60 USD, melmira.com
Best push-up strapless bra
Designed for the girls in the C to F section of the alphabet, this Chantilly lace style is known for being a must-have among singers because it provides trusty shape and lift, while putting minimal pressure on the torso.
Empreinte Melody strapless bra, $207, lineaintima.ca
Best strapless bra for when it’s super hot out
She’s beautiful and breathable. Scalloped lace trim joins forces with molded cups made of 3D spacer fabric for an undergarment you might just forget you’re wearing altogether.
Simone Perélè Caresse Bandeau bra, $139, available at in-store stockists
Best strapless bra for full busts
Molded cups enhance curves, while a contoured silhouette ensures this bra fits smoothly under the arms. Hailing from the U.K., this collection is suitable for anyone with a fuller bust and runs up to a J cup.
Freya Cameo Underwire Deco Strapless Molded Bra, $84, available at in-store stockists
Best strapless bra for light support
Some days call for the lightest of layers. This cotton bandeau bra, with iconic logo band, is up to the task.
Calvin Klein Underwear Modern Cotton Unlined Bandeau Bra, $32, shopbop.com
Best strapless bra for date night
Complete with detachable straps, fine mesh intermingles with opaque accents and clean lines to create a winner from this Montréal-based line.