Elegant, classy and daring, the backless dress can make a unique statement and make you feel unequivocally feminine. While some are happy to simply go without a bra, many would feel uncomfortable and would question that the best bra to wear with a backless dress does not seem to exist.
The positive news is that there are a number of different bra types that are perfect to wear with a backless dress. Even the larger breasted among us can feel supported, comfortable and most importantly, supremely confident.
What Is the Best Bra to Wear With a Backless Dress? When it comes to going backless, there are three main types of bra that offer a variety of combinations: Multi-Way Bras, Backless Bras and Stick-On Bras. Each can give you excellent support whilst still remaining invisible under your backless or deep fronted cut dress.
No matter what size or shape your body may be, there are plenty of different types of bra that can make a backless dress work for you. Whether you opt for a minimalist approach with an adhesive bra or even bra tape, or if you prefer a fuller style with firm yet hidden straps to give serious support, there are enough options to make sure there is something for everyone.
Best Bra to Wear With a Backless Dress
There are three main backless bra types to consider. My advice would be to try a few different ones until you find something that makes you feel truly confident. You certainly won’t be short of choices, and some even offer shape and lift to create the effect you are looking for. Let’s get started.
1. Multi-Way Bra
What Is a Multi-Way Bra?
A multi-way bra is a bra that has straps which can be altered into a variety of different combinations which you can alter yourself according to what you are wearing. In some cases, the straps can be worn like a normal bra but the straps will be removable to give you several options.
The Curvy Kate Multiway Bra available at Figleaves is a great example of a multi function bra that offers excellent support.
You could swap the fastenings at the back to create a cross-over design or even a halter-neck that can leave your back bare. Alternatively, some multi-way bras have straps that loop around your shoulders which can be perfect if your backless dress has sleeves of some sort, while others have straps that are designed to wrap around beneath the bra, often dropping quite low so they rest beneath the cut of your dress.
One of the best things about a multi-way bra is its versatility as you no longer need separate bras for different outfits – this one bra can be adjusted to suit almost anything. It’s ideal if you know you will only wear a backless dress on a few occasions and don’t want to go to the expense of buying a speciality bra that you won’t get much use from for the rest of the time.
The straps will have hooks and there will be a number of different loops on different areas of the bra where you can attach them to achieve a variety of different effects. Some also have extra straps that you will only need in certain combinations, such as when you want the straps to appear beneath the bra line.
How To Wear a Multi-Way Bra
More and more varieties of multi-way bra are appearing all the time with different combinations. It is unlikely that one bra will be able to complete every combination available so you need to check the different options for each one and choose the one that suits you best.
For a low back, some multi-way bras come with an additional strap that you wear across your stomach and attach to each side of the main band that goes across your back. This will pull your bra down in the back so no straps will be visible when you wear a dress or top that is scooped out in the back.
Because your bra still connects in a wider band at the back, you will still feel as secure as before but the back is much lower than it would be normally. There might still be straps going over your shoulders but these will be positioned close to the edges of your back so they can fit discreetly behind the line of your dress.
Alternatively, another type of backless multi-way includes an extra band which acts as a low back converter. Rather than being thin, like a shoulder strap as in the previous example, this strap will be thicker and more like the standard band at the back of your bra.
Rather than fastening your bra in the normal way, the extra strap will have the same fastenings that attach to the band of your bra; it then crosses over at your stomach before going back around to attach to the other side of your standard bra fastening. You can even buy a converter strap like this to transform one of your ordinary bras into a backless bra, provided the fastenings match.
Can You Wear A Multi-Way Bra With A Large Bust?
The multi-way is probably one of the most secure ways of wearing a backless bra if you have a large bust. There are plenty of supportive multi-way bras available suitable for cup sizes of DD or more. The cups can also be moulded to provide extra firmness and shape while still providing enough support and helping create the perfect silhouette.
How To Make Your Multi-Way Stay In Place
Provided you have chosen a well-fitting multi-way bra, you should have no problems with it staying in place. The straps are designed to redistribute the weight of your boobs and the additional strap across your stomach provides great stability. If you are worried it might move, you could add a little adhesive tape at key areas but you shouldn’t try to change the overall shape of the bra or it will simply realign itself to how it is meant to be.
You also need to ensure the straps are firmly attached. If you are worried, you could sew in a stitch or two which can easily be removed when you want to change the straps around but will give you extra peace of mind when you wear it, especially if you planning some energetic dancing!
Related Article: Ultimate Bra Style Breakdown Guide
2. Backless Bra
What Is A Backless Bra?
Backless bras come in many combinations either with straps or without; the strap design can be similar to a multi-way but without the option of changing the strap position. In some ways, a backless bra such as Simone Perele Backless Bra from Harvey Nichols can be more secure than a multi-way as you know the straps are safely sewn in and less likely to slip out. Many stick-on bras are also referred to as backless bras, especially if they are the fuller design which covers both breasts fully in one piece.
How Does A Backless Bra Work?
If you have selected a backless bra with straps, they work in the same way as a multi-way but without the option of different combinations. Some have straps that are positioned to go around your shoulders and meet the bra under your arm leaving no band in the back whatsoever while others will have thin straps that can lie beneath the line of the dress.
Others have crossover straps beneath the bust which go around your back far lower than the band of your bra would usually be, giving the appearance of a totally backless bra but with the same support of a bra with a secure band.
Do Backless Bras Support a Large Bust?
Many backless bras are designed for women with large busts as they can offer the same amount of support as a normal bra, only the straps appear in different places so they can be concealed more easily.
In general, the less straps a bra has, the less support it can offer unless you opt for a bra that is held on with adhesive. Some backless bras offer a combination of straps and adhesive for more support and security. I would say, if you have a large bust then a purpose-made backless bra could offer even more support than a multi-way as you know the straps are all in the correct place and the bra has been specifically designed for this task. The weight of your bust is effectively redistributed.
3. Stick-On Bra
What Is A Stick-On Bra?
A stick-on bra uses a mild adhesive to enable the bra to stick to your skin. Very often, each cup is applied separately and they can come in a range of sizes, colours and styles
The Nubra Self-Adhesive Bra (picture above) is available at Net-A-Porter
Some versions include a sort of wing that sticks to your body in order to offer further support. They are also available as a one-piece covering both breasts at once, although they will still need to be applied separately and are often held together with a removable clip. The best thing about a stick-on bra is that it is not only backless but strapless too and can be worn with practically anything.
How Do Stick-On Bras Work?
When you hear the word adhesive connected with a bra you would be forgiven for thinking you had to apply some glue to put the bra on! This is not the case. The adhesive part is attached to the bra itself: it is simply made with layers of adhesive in the cup that mold to your body and stick thanks to the heat of your skin.
At the end of the day, all you need to do is wash the bra so it retains its stickiness and you are ready to go for the next outing. They can take some practice to put on: you need to apply one cup at a time, starting at the bottom of your breast and working your way up.
Some have a clip for you to join the cups together which can be very helpful in offering you more lift and support. When you first put them on, you need to place them vertically rather than in the position you want them to end up. This means that, to begin with, the clip will be pointing down to the floor. Once you attache the clips together in the middle, your breasts will be re-positioned for the most lift and support.
How To Make Your Bra Stay In Place
The main thing to remember is that the adhesive is holding to your skin thanks to your body heat but moisture that gets between the cup and you will cause the adhesive to come off and can make the bra slip. A stick on bra would be impossible to wear if you were going swimming.
Some people worry that moisture from perspiration might cause their bras to slip but you need to remember that the adhesive is covering a fairly large area and even if you are a little clammy, there should still be plenty of dry skin left for the bra to stick to.
The main thing is to make sure you put the bra on properly in the first instance, following all the manufacturer’s instructions and making sure there are no air pockets trapped between your breast and bra. As long as the adhesive part of the bra is in full contact with your skin, you should have no problems keeping your bra in place. Remember, clammy skin can also be hot skin and heat makes the adhesive hold more firmly.
Can You Wear A Stick-On Bra With a Larger Bust?
Although it might feel like a gamble, a stick-on bra can work very well with larger busts. Because you apply each cup vertically before attaching in the middle, the cup does more than just sit on your breasts: it gently scoops up and lifts each one with the clip in the middle doing all the work. The key is in putting them on properly which can take some practice. As a stick-on bra is usually designed to cover most of your breast with each cup, the fuller your breast, the more coverage and support the bra can offer.
Are Stick-On Bras Reusable?
Yes, stick-on bras can last as long as most other bras as long as you take good care of them. All you need to do is wash them carefully and they should be ready for their next outing.
Do Stick On Bras Lose Their Adhesiveness?
They can, but there are some simple techniques for making your bra sticky again. You need to wash the bra between each use as dead skin on the adhesive section will stop it from holding.
How you wash your bra is vital. You need to run it under a hot water tap and use some soap, such as a mild hand soap, to work into the adhesive section that will remove any oil or sweat. You can’t be too rough here and shouldn’t use a cloth or rub too hard as you could damage the adhesive.
The best approach is to simply use your fingers to massage the soap into the cup and then run it under the tap again to wash off before drying away from direct heat. Never fold the cups or they could stick to each other and damage the adhesive as you pull them apart.
Related Article: Top 10 Best Adhesive Bras
Six Alternatives To A Backless Bra
Backless bras don’t suit everyone and some women might want to avoid a bra that is tricky to put on or requires special maintenance. There are plenty of alternatives that mean you can still look fabulous in your backless dress with the full support you would expect from an ordinary bra.
1. Backless Body Suits Or Body-Shapers
The backless body suit can be a great alternative if you want to feel secure and body-shapers can also offer the added advantage of adding curves and definition to your waist and the rest of your torso. As the name implies, a body suit can be an all-in-one with a built in bra, both available with straps or without.
The Maidenform Comfort Endlessly Smooth Firm Control Slip (pictured above) is an excellent example and available at John Lewis & Partners
Some body suits plunge down at the back revealing most of your back with no visible straps. There is certainly less risk that a body suit will slip or move around as you go about your day, and some include control panels or bones that can offer greater support and lift where needed.
Related Article: Different Types Of Shapewear Explained
2. Breast Lift Tape
A favourite of Kim Kardashian’s, breast lift tape works like fashion tape but is positioned carefully to hold your breasts in position and can provide surprising support beneath a backless dress. It is more than a strip of sellotape and most breast lift tape is shaped to cover part of your breast.
They fit on the top of your breast and provide support by pulling your breast up rather than lifting from beneath. Some breast lift tape is even waterproof and can be worn when swimming which is great if you want to look your best in a swim-suit. Some varieties can also be reused up to a limited number of times. Breast lift tape can also be suitable for ladies with fuller breasts.
3. Fashion Glue
Fashion glue is usually applied from a tube or roll on and allows you to bond your clothing to your skin for extra security. You won’t be able to support or lift your breasts, but you can feel confident that your dress will stay in place and avoid any accidents. You could combine fashion glue with another type of backless bra for extra security. It washes off easily and won’t damage your clothing so can have lots of uses as well as helping you feel comfortable in your backless dress.
4. Breast Petals
Breast petals are not designed to offer support or lift but they will help you avoid feeling embarrassed if your top is flimsy or you are conscious of your chest showing under clothing when you aren’t wearing a bra. There are two different types: single-use which are designed to be thrown away once worn or silicone covers that can be worn many times before they lose their adhesive qualities.
5. Go Bra-less!
If you are wearing a backless dress and don’t need additional support, there is always the option of leaving off the bra entirely. This can be a great, worry-free option for ladies with firm or smaller breasts although large breasted ladies might feel a little uncomfortable.
6. Dress With Built-In Support
Some dresses come with a built-in bra which means you don’t have to worry about adding any additional underwear. There could be bones, padded cups, or underwiring which will hold your breasts in place exactly as the designer intended so your dress hangs perfectly and you can relax, knowing everything is where it should be. It is important to select the correct dress size that fits your breasts well or you could feel uncomfortable and you could always add some fashion glue or tape for extra security if you are concerned about slippage.
What Is The Best Bra For a Backless Wedding Dress?
It depends on the cut of your dress, but any of the above examples could offer a great solution to a backless wedding dress. Depending on whether your dress has sleeves or shoulder straps, you could choose a backless bra or multi-way or you may like to opt for a stick-on bra if your dress is very open at the top. The most important thing is to wear the same bra to every fitting session so that your wedding dress is designed to sit perfectly and everything will stay in place all day and night.
If you focus on the three main types of bra covered here (multi-way, backless and stick-on), then choosing the best bra to wear with a backless dress need not be such mission.
Whichever bra option you select, you will probably need a little practice in putting it on correctly and will need to refer to manufacturer’s instructions or ask advice at the lingerie shop. It is worth having a few trial runs, wearing your bra at home before your big night to avoid any unexpected accidents and to make sure you have the hang of it. There is nothing more stressful than wrestling with a new and complicated bra when you are rushing to get ready to go out.
With so many options available, there really is something for everyone and a backless dress or top is within everyone’s reach. You won’t have to pay the earth for a quality bra, either, as many of the options here can be found quite cheaply both online and in lingerie shops or department stores.
It is a good idea to try on a few different alternatives before making your final decision and you could take your dress with you into the shop to make sure any straps are discreetly concealed and you are happy with your overall look. Diving in and buying the first bra you find could work out expensive in the long-run if you find yourself looking for alternatives if your first choice fails.
With a number of tops and jumpsuits all offering a backless option at the moment, a good backless bra can be a great investment that will open your wardrobe to a range of new outfit choices you might not have considered before.
Some backless dresses are scooped low in the back, so a stick-on bra can be a perfect way to make sure there will be no risk of visible underwear whatsoever. Despite its popularity and unquestionable success at avoiding straps, the stick-on bra is not everyone’s cup of tea.
If you really like to have some straps for added peace of mind that your bra will stay put and avoid slipping, a variety of multi-way options are available with some really clever designs that redistribute the straps so they will stay completely out of sight. Clear straps can offer a further option, while a truly backless bra can even be found in combinations with shapewear where the bra is built into a longer piece that covers the front of your body while leaving most of your back completely clear.
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