The Strapless: An Engineering Marvel

By John Festa


Forth Bridge via Getty Images

Summer approacheth. A time for fewer, lighter clothes and more baring outfits. Tis the season for strapless bras. As if bras were not already an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, surrounded by mystery, now the job must be accomplished with no visible means of support. Finding a strapless bra that works seems to be an unending quest. In fact, there are quite a few bras today that perform this function quite well.


Va Bien Ultra Lift & Panache Evie

Bras work by two main classifications of design:  lift and compression. In order for a strapless bra to have lift, an underwire is necessary. Those without underwire, most notably the circular, engineered knit bandeau type, only use compression on the bust. This will not enhance your shape in any way. This can be useful for smaller busts that simply desire some privacy.


Natori & Fashion Form

Technology and design have brought forth many successful strapless bras onto the market. Some key elements to look for:

  • A snug fitting band, being sure center gore lays against the body.
  • Wide side wings
  • Silicone (rubber) beading on band to minimize slippage (avoid powder or moisturizer on this day)
  • The lower the plunge, the more precarious the support.

Once in the bra, jump up and down. Raise your arms. Take a deep breath. See what happens. There’s your answer. I suggest staying in the fitting room for these activities.


Freya Deco & Elomi Smoothing & Simone Perele Celeste


Wacoal Red Carpet and Le Mystere Sculptural

In days of yore, most strapless bras had an overwire.  For formal events, I just love long line strapless bras. The boned bodice provides the perfect support base for the bust while also providing waist shaping. But these are all but extinct in this day and age.


1930’s Vintage Strapless at Victoria and Albert Museum

Be prepared to try on many bras. Definitely visit a specialty store with experienced fitters. Do not be discouraged if the first few bras don’t work. There is nothing wrong with you. Like any other ‘intimate’ relationship, it is always how well things fit together and if it supports you as you are.



2 Discussion to this post

  1. helene krantz says:

    ItI appears almost impossible to find a strapless bra that does not slide down on a woman with no back fat or love handles, who also has the need for support of fuller (older) breasts.

    Another difficulty is finding an appropriate backless bra. These , for me, fall into 3 categories:
    strapless backless,
    traditional wide strap, backless,
    backless to the actual waist.

    the third puzzle is the bra, that stays up, and has a halter strap between the breasts (around the neck), which is comfortable and functional.

    • Ellen Lewis says:

      If you can tell me your bra size, I will give you some options. If you prefer to send me the information privately, let me know and I will contact you off-line

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