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Tomima Talks: Finding your right strapless bra

“Wanna hear a joke? Strapless bra.” I’m sure for many of you reading this, a strapless bra does feel like a joke – and with no punch line. You put one on only to discover it a few hours later down around your waist. But there really is a comfortable “I forgot I was wearing it” strapless bra in your future, and this Tomima Talk is going to help you find it… or maybe even two. After all, a strapless bra is an important staple in your lingerie collection. There are just a few things you need to know so you can zero in on the strapless bras that are right for you.

Strapless Bra Size = Bra Size There is some urban legend bouncing around that you need to change your bra size for a strapless bra. I just did a quick search and found several influencers recommending you go down a band size (without also telling you to go up a cup size!). This advice is flat out false. A strapless bra is actually your ultimate bra size test; if a strapless in your normal bra size doesn’t fit, you’re not in the correct bra size to begin with. It’s really just common sense. A well-fitting strapless bra will confirm both your band size and your cup size – no straps for cheating allowed. It’s also preposterous to think bra manufacturers are intentionally making strapless bras too big. They are designing/sizing/manufacturing their bras based on actual women who they know are in the correct bra size.  So, on your path to finding a fabulous strapless bra, you need to make sure you know your correct bra size.

Technically Unique  Bras are already a bit of a technical engineering marvel.  There is so much that goes into getting them to fit right – suspension, stretch, structure, support. A strapless bra is at the top of the complexity design heap due to what it’s being asked to do – support cantilevered breast tissue with no joists or beams. Consequently, their structure is quite a bit different than regular bras.

Underwires – The best strapless bras use longer/taller “U” shaped underwires with some spring built into them. You stretch a strapless bra to fasten it.  This pulls the underwire ends apart.  Once fastened, they gently spring back to engage around the root of your breast. This “hug” helps to keep a strapless bra up – especially with larger breasts. Smaller cup sizes may not need this feature, but larger cup sizes will benefit from a larger underwire that surrounds about 2/3rds of the breast.

Sides – Have you ever seen a chain-link fence when one of its vertical posts is missing?  It sags downward from lack of structure.  The same thing can happen without vertical boning in a strapless bra.  The good ones have this feature to shore up your sides to keep you smooth and supported. And boning is really an inaccurate name.  Back in the day of corsetry, actual whale bone was used.  But today’s “boning” is now flexible with memory.  It is either a pliable, linguini-shaped piece of plastic or a very thin, tightly coiled metal spring. Both are rigid enough to keep your sides up but flexible enough to bow a little for comfort. Speaking of sides, do you ever get that pesky little muffin top “fat bulge” right in front of your armpit and above your dress line?  This primarily happens when the sides of your strapless are not tall enough (or your cup size is too small).  Find a strapless with tall sides, and you can neatly tuck this little bulge inside your cup and its gone.

Wings – First, let me define this term.  A bra’s wings are the sides and back of a bra that begins at the closure and ends where the fabric meets the cups.  Narrow wings on a strapless bra are never a good thing.  I hear complaints about “back fat” and “back bulges.”  Guess what causes this? Narrow bra wings – on any bra style. The more coverage a bra provides to your skin surface, the smoother you’ll look. A strapless bra should therefore really have 3 or more vertical hooks in the back.  It may not look sexy, but once you put on that strapless dress, you’ll look smooth and supported.

What’s inside – It’s really what’s going on inside a strapless bra that tells the full story.  Is there silicone gripper tape on the edges? Added elastic? More boning?  You need to see the inside of a strapless bra and study its design details. At HerRoom, we don’t just describe it, we actually show you – and we’re the only one who does!  Every strapless bra on our site includes an image showing the inside of its wings.  Here are examples to show you how varied it can be.

Convertible Bras – Quickly defined, a convertible bra is a strapless bra that comes with attachable straps to turn it into a traditional bra. This is a great bra style to own. It gives you the ability to configure straps in several ways to accommodate different necklines.  It’s also a great travel bra due to it being configurable.  That said, before buying a convertible bra, make sure to also try it on as a strapless.  You want to make sure it too fits and will stay up.

Longline Strapless Bras – Do you need both a strapless and a low back solution?  Your best bet will be a longline strapless bra. It was the original strapless bra design before new fancy fabrics made the smaller strapless bra we know of today. A longline has many advantages.  It absolutely stays up, can provide shaping around your torso, and the back can be lower.  Many come with a lower back.  We have a 360 spin option on all longline bras with the bra line identified so you can see how low it will actually go.  And, a longline can sometimes be unfastened in back, and the sides tucked in to give you a little lower line if needed.Now, the challenge is that due to the amount of body coverage it provides, finding one that fits can be very tricky. If you have a tummy or are more of an apple or pear shape, you should first think about going up a band size and down a cup size.  This will give you more room in the waist. And, you can sometimes go up 2 band sizes and down 2 cup sizes and it will give you even more waist room.  With a longline bra, the most important fit consideration is the upper bra part.  There are actually bra extenders on the market for longlines should you need more waist room and they can help you get a custom fit. Additionally, a longline can be altered.  So, find one that’s a little too big and alter it for a custom fit.

Bandeau Bras – The tube tops of the ’60s have evolved into bandeau bras with a better fit, some with underwires and a practical reason to wear one.  Most of us are of the mindset that we want to hide our strapless bra from view.  A bandeau bra takes a different approach.  If you are looking at a garment with a low neckline or big armholes, many women now wear a bandeau in a coordinating color and let it show. A bandeau bra can be a coordinate rather than simply an undergarment and give you support as well.

Some Final Thoughts…

  1. Over the last few years, the size range for strapless bras has skyrocketed.  Most women today can find a strapless bra in their true bra size.  I just checked our size range and we offer strapless bras from band sizes 28 to 50 and cup sizes A to D10.

  2. I personally have more than one strapless bra. I have one with a center plunge.  I have one with demi cups. I have one with full coverage. I have a couple of bandeau bras. And I have a few longline bras. Now, I know what you’re thinking; of course you do. You’re in the business.  And you’re right.  But, I also live in Dallas where it can get really hot.  I wear strapless bras throughout the summer and the great thing is I truly forget I’m wearing them.  Maybe you don’t need as many as I have, but you should really think about getting more than one.  With our great “see it under” feature, you can quickly see which strapless will work for the challenging neckline you are trying to conquer.

  3. Adhesive bras are a strapless consideration and another Tomima Talk… stay tuned.

  4. To be truly successful with a strapless bra, you need to make sure your skin is properly prepped.  Many strapless bras now come with silicone gripper tape inside, viscous-like elastics or other adhesives.  To be successful and slip-free, your skin should be free of powder, moisturizer, soap, oil and deodorant around the areas where your strapless bra will touch.  This step is critical – especially if you’ll be dancing and building up perspiration. Clean fresh skin just before putting it on will give you your best shot at dancing the night away without a worry.

  5. For the visually inclined, here’s a link to my video on strapless backless options.


Tomima Founder & CEO

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