“Where can I find a good strapless bra? One that doesn’t fall down?” As I scrolled through my social feed the other day, I came across a tweet asking this. Undoubtedly one of life’s greatest underwear-related questions, I spent several moments trying to think of the answer. I was stumped. Do I have a good strapless bra? Do I know anyone with a good strapless bra? Does a good strapless bra even exist?
My strapless number was bought in the Net-a-Porter sale about 65 years ago. It’s Stella McCartney and it’s totally crap (sorry, Stella). A not-so-attractive off-beige colour, the solid cups stand independently from my boobs, causing a ridge-type effect under my tops. In a remarkably illogical twist of engineering, the band is at once tight, leaving red stripes around my ribs, yet too loose, meaning that after a couple of steps it’s slid down to my waist. I wear it approximately once a year when I have absolutely no other alternative.
“Have you ever found a decent strapless bra?” I asked the Pool office. The replies came thick and fast: “I always feel like I’m about to pop out of mine”; “they don’t stay up”; “so constricting and makes my boobs look like a shelf”; “I wear one that doesn’t fit because I find shopping for one so depressing”. My favourite? A straightforward “NOPE”. It appears that we are all in the same boat.
The temptation here is to agree on the utter crapness of strapless bras, resign them to the bin and move on. However – summer clothes. Bardot tops, spaghetti straps, bandeau dresses, off-the-shoulder anything. If there is one thing that summer clothes truly hate, it’s bra straps. And so we are left desperately seeking a strapless solution that works.
“A secret tip I once learnt from a famous actress was to moisturise around your body before you put on your strapless bra – it gives you a bit of extra grip,” Sian Thomas, global head of creative design at Triumph, tells me when I ask for her help. On the subject of how to find a strapless bra that fits, she advises choosing one that feels “snug but not uncomfortable” around your back and jumping around in the changing room when trying one on: “Lift your arms; maybe bend forward. You will sense if you are secure enough.”
The temptation here is to agree on the utter crapness of strapless bras, resign them to the bin and move on. However – summer clothes
Marie O'Gorman, product technologist at John Lewis, recommends looking for a bra where the band sits level around your back and the centre of the bra (the bit in between your boobs) sits flat against your body. “Avoid falling into the trap of buying an underband size tighter than your usual bra size, hoping that this will help with support. The construction of the bra will compensate for the strapless styling and function.” O’Gorman suggests choosing a bra with a wide underband if you have big boobs and says the most popular strapless bra is John Lewis’ satin band underwired strapless multiway (£25), which comes in sizes 32A-36F.
After some extensive googling, I have discovered that the Chantelle Irresistible strapless bra (£52) is a bestseller in both Selfridges and Harrods, and comes in sizes 32A-34E. So, too, is Wacoal’s Red Carpet bra (£45), which comes in sizes 30B-42FF. Wonderbra’s Ultimate Strapless bra (£40) comes with rather creepy, but apparently rather effective, “hand support technology”, but the prize for most promising prospect goes to Next’s Jamie bandeau bra (£20). This has been endorsed by both Laura Craik and Lauren Bravo, with Lauren claiming it to be “amazing”. “It’s the least sexy thing in the world,” she says, “but it manages to both hold my boobs up and smoosh them flat at the same time. I have it in both black and nude and, honestly, it has completely changed my summer wardrobe.”
Is Jamie the answer to the strapless-bra conundrum? Here’s hoping – I’ve added one to my shopping basket. But, if not, then take heed of Thomas’ advice: “If you really can’t find a strapless bra you feel comfortable in, think about making your bra straps part of your outfit.” Triumph’s Amourette range comes with really pretty straps, while Lara Intimates are good for bright styles. Have a look at Savage x Fenty, the newly launched lingerie brand from Rihanna, which is, unsurprisingly, very good.
But if you’d rather dodge the issue altogether, then check out my edit of summery dresses, jumpsuits and tops below. All of which can be worn with with your bra and its straps.