Strapless, backless or plunging: bra solutions for every dress dilemma

OK, so we all know the basics. Underwire gives you uplift, a T-shirt bra gives a smooth line under tight-fitting T-shirts, and a sports bra gives you extra support and protection during exercise.

But what on earth do you wear underneath all those beautifully revealing tops and dresses that pose such impossible scaffolding problems? Let’s Talk Breasts analyses the best solutions for every occasion…

Dilemma: Deep V-neck top

Solution: Boost your cleavage with the ‘lingerie must-have’ underwired push-up bra. This is a wardrobe staple for every girl and the optional removable padding not only enhances what smaller girls already have but also helps shape larger girls to give a more flattering silhouette.

We recommend Wonderbra Natural Full Effect Push-Up Plunge Bra.

Dilemma: Square neckline

Solution: A balconette bra is the answer to necklines that are cut wide at the front and otherwise risk revealing unwanted straps from a regular bra. The square front helps avoid seeing glimpses of your underwear at your bust line, which would otherwise be visible with a normally shaped bra.

We recommend Triumph Amourette 300 Underwired Bra.

Dilemma: Form-fitting clothing

Solution: Choose smooth, seam-free underwear options and stay away from lace, bows or any other embellishments, which might form a telltale line through your clothes. T-shirt bras are excellent for reducing bulges and the cups are often fully moulded for extra discretion. For dresses you might investigate all-in-one options such as body shapers, which will smooth out your tummy and hips while still providing uplift. A minimiser bra also helps reduce unwanted lumps and bumps for bigger busts.

We recommend Wonderbra T-Shirt Bra.

Dilemma: See-through top

Solution: For transparent clothing, opt for nude colours (unless you’re aiming to make an impact), and fully moulded cups to prevent your nipples from being permanently on display!

We recommend Lepel Athena T-Shirt Bra.

Dilemma: Halter neck top or dress

Solution: There are two ways to tackle halter necks – multiway bras or strapless bras. A multiway is essentially a strapless bra with removable, adjustable straps and a variety of hooks, which can help you match your straps to those of your clothes. While strapless bras are excellent for smaller ladies, those with larger busts may appreciate the extra support given by a multiway with the straps fixed around the neck.

We recommend John Lewis underwired Multiway Bra.

Dilemma: Racer back top

Solution: Again, your best solution to this sporty look is a multiway bra, as long as the straplines match up at the back. Alternatively it’s possible to purchase small, discreet plastic connectors, which clip together your existing bra straps into the perfect racer back design, as well as giving your bust a little oomph in the process.

We recommend Caraselle Bra Converter Clips.

Dilemma: One-shoulder top or dress

Solution: Roll out the trusty multiway once again, or alternatively use a push-up strapless bra.

We recommend Lepel Athena Strapless Bra.

Dilemma: Strapless top or dress

Solution: Every woman should experiment with strapless bras, as they’re distinctively different in style and effect. It can be hard to find a good one that doesn’t gape at the front, and for this reason, designers have started to put semi-adhesive panels to keep the garment sitting in the right place. Look for something with enough uplift and a flattering side profile – nobody likes pointy or droopy boobs in a strapless outfit!

We recommend Wonderbra Ultimate Strapless Range.

Dilemma: Backless dress

Solution: Even for those of us who don’t have regular dates on the red carpet, there are a number of backless bra options, which invariably mean extra straps around your body, or body shapers cleverly cut at the back. Lesser-endowed ladies could also investigate the silicone cups covered later in this article.

We recommend Fashion Forms Backless Strapless Bra.

Dilemma: Deep plunging neckline

Solution: Not to be confused with the above V-neck top, this neckline (usually seen on skimpy cocktail dresses and daring ball gowns) truly pushes the boundaries. There are a number of plunge bras on the market, using either clear Perspex joins between cups to allow discreet support, or an altogether different shape which extends down to the ribcage. Many styles come with adjustable straps to offer multiple usage variations.

We recommend Wonderbra Ultimate Plunge Bra.

Dilemma: Complicated strappy top or backless, strapless dress

Solution: Natural shaper bras and separate adhesive rounded silicone cups are innovative designs featuring ‘support without straps’. For women with a smaller bust, these really do provide an answer to most issues and have received excellent reviews in the press, although it should be mentioned that many of the latter options are only suitable for a limited number of wearings, as the ‘stickiness’ tends to wear off after a few washes.

We recommend Fashion Forms Backless Strapless Bra.

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