Strapless unmentionables: A “minus size” round up

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I loved reading Andrea's advice for finding plus size long line bras. However, I happen to be at the opposite end of that spectrum. After seeing a few comments requesting a “minus size” round up, I thought it was time for me to step in and represent those of us who are not as, erm “well-endowed.” (FYI this post has pictures of ladies in their undergarments so it's probably NSFW.)

Buying bras can be quite tricky. I want a bra that supports and shapes, but I really don't like padding. Although I may be smaller chested, I'm proud of what my momma gave me! I don't like all these fancy schmancy water bras and miracle bras that add two cup sizes! No thanks — I'm all real, baby. The problem is that most bras for smaller chests are super padded.

Picture 1 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride) Right now I own the Multi-way Bra from Victoria's Secret. I liked it because the cup is lighting lined and there is no padding. However, without straps this proved problematic. The band stays in place, but the actual cups are so flimsy that they slip down all the time, which means wedding day nip slips and weird square boobs. No one wants that!

I've tried a few strapless bras with no luck. I tried on the Le Mystere Women's Shameless Strapless Bra but didn't like how it felt like a shelf yet it did no lifting. The bra practically swallowed my chest. Also the Natori Memory Convertible Underwire Bra fit well but it had seams that totally showed through my dress. Not to mention it felt very constricting.
Picture 2 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)

However, my new favorite strapless bra is the Calvin Klein Perfectly Fit Strapless Bra. This bra is great for most strapless style dresses. The cups are lightly lined with only a tiny bit of padding at the bottom. That padding helps lift to create a more rounder and fuller shape. Also, the band stayed up really well. I haven't worn this one yet but I did a few jumps and twirls in the dressing room to test it out. No slippage! (Which you should totally do if you're going to be dancing at your wedding.) Plus, the cup connector (what the heck is that thing called?) is low so it would work with both a tube-style or strapless sweetheart top dress. You can get this one at Calvin Klein or Nordstrom.

Picture 3 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
In the case that your dress has a low back or if the material of your dress is thin, I would recommend the Le Mystere Bustier. It is made of nylon and lycra so it can stretch which creates a surprisingly comfortable bustier, while smoothing any unwanted lumps. It is seamless so it cannot be detected under your dress. Also, the cups have underwire which keep the girls securely in place. It doesn't have any padding and the lining is relatively thin, which I liked for the above mentioned reasons. I wore this bustier for over six hours, under a huge strapless ball gown and I felt great. I didn't have to adjust it at all. Also, this bustier comes with removable straps as well, so if you're wearing a one strap gown, or halter you can adjust accordingly.

lg 0000026 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
If your dress is extra fancy you may need to go with this one: the nubra . It is literally two silicone cups attached by a clasp in the center. The cups are adhesive so they stick directly on your chest. This bra is good if your dress has an extremely low back or a plunging neckline (as you can unclasp the two cups). It lifts and helps shape. I've personally had success with this bra. I wore it on a few occasions and once for about five hours (while dancing and sweating profusely) without any problems. You can order it from Lula Lu, which is a great website that specializes in bras for smaller cups sizes, mainly AA-AAA.

Like Andrea said, it is important to be flexible with your bra size when it comes to strapless bras. They can be very tricksy! I almost always go down one band size, just to ensure it will stay up. However, if you aren't careful, going down a band size can create some unwanted lumps. Also, it helps if you can bring the dress with you when trying on bras and definitely bring the bra to any alteration sessions. Lastly, a little love and support goes a long way. So be patient and find something that properly contains or displays your ladies in a way that you're comfortable with.

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Comments on Strapless unmentionables: A “minus size” round up

  1. Ah, thank you for this! I was resigned to going braless in my dress until I just saw your review of the NuBra. I’d love to have a little lift and shape even with my low low back.

    (even though I’m a leeeetle scared of the totally adhesive bra. i’m assuming you would have disclosed any painful removal issues…!)

      • Agreed! Just be reaaaally careful taking it apart after you have it off. The little plastic hook in the middle can break, as I found out the hard way. :-/ Othwerwise, it’s a great bra!

        • The adhesive for these is kind of like those sticky toys you get out of the egg-dispenser machines for a quarter. It’s the perfect amount of stickiness, in my mind.

          I had one of these bras (whatever brand they sell at Target) and it was awesome.

          • I really need to get something like the Nu-bra for my backless dress, but how do you get them symmetrical? I’m worried that one will be more lifty than the other!!!!

  2. I love this post!! I have teeny tiny boobs and its so hard to find a stapless bra, but I finally found one at a store call Aerie. Its the Audrey Bra. It has a demi( or half) cup which is great because full cups can gape at the top, Its lightly lined, and it comes with 3 sets of straps. It’s a win for me. 🙂

  3. I love NuBras and the cool thing is that most fabric stores (i.e. Joanns, Michaels) have offbrand versions that work just as well. I used to wear one for the burlesque show I was in and even during a two hour show with dancing, sweating, and costume changes it never moved. Be extremely careful with them though because they will stick to everything if you aren’t. Also, you can go up a cup size with the nubra if you do want padding and it comes out looking extremely natural.

  4. Thank you for giving the small-chested of the bridal world a voice!

    I’m super small chested and found the Girl’s department is my friend when bra shopping. Not only are the colors are more fun than the Woman’s, but they are cheaper too. My favorite everyday strapless so far is made by Maidenform for Girls, and it has removable straps so you can wear it all different ways.

    Still I’m going to seek out a few of the bras listed above to wear on my wedding day, especially that nifty looking bustier.

    • I loved the bustier! I highly recommend it. I ended up going down a cup size than I normally wear and it was great.

      • Thank you for a very helpful set of suggestions! After trying out the American Eagle strapless mentioned somewhere in the comments (thanks!), I will be going with Carnival Invisible Plunge Longline, available for $35-40 on Amazon. Not sure where the ‘invisible’ part comes in as the boning is visible thru my fairly thin bodice: this look works for my dress, which already has some boning, but may not for other dresses. It has a very low back. Another nice thing is that while long it doesn’t go all the way down to the hips.

  5. I would just like to suggest Lula Lu as an overall site for the more petite girls! The site is great, because they have unpadded options, but lacy and pretty, with many strapless options.

  6. Awesome!!!

    I use the NuBra during my performances! And for us pierced beauties out there, I can even keep my nipple rings in wearing this and they are perfectly fine!

  7. I love my strapless bra by Lily of France. It has a touch of padding at the bottom of the cups to allow the girls a little lift. My favorite everyday bra is by Calvin Klein and it makes my girls look fabulous!

    • I really think that Calvin Klein makes some of the best undergarments. The use the nicest fabrics and I love the way their bra cups are lined. Not to thick but usually just right. It really contours to your body. (or mine at least!)

  8. While I am at the opposite end of this post (36G & yes I HATE it), I have worked with lingerie for the past ten years. For those girls who don’t really want to deal with a bra, I highly suggest silcone breast petals. They are basically pasties that smooth everything out. Also, I don’t recommend Victoria Secret. Not only are their cleanliness ethics… um… questionable… but they treat their employees rather unfair 🙁 I worked there, so that’s my personal opinion. As far as strapless bras go, many companies [like Fredericks] offer bras with removable padding. Just be sure to try it with & without before you commit. Oh, and never ever underestimate good garment tape! Good luck 🙂

    • I bought the stick on plunge bra at VS because it was the only backless plunge bra I could find. First I bought a B based on what their size charts said and it was too big. So I bought the A one. The A one fit ok, but it would not even stay on for the fitting. The sticky bras are no return at VS so that was 100$ down the toilet

  9. Just be wary of the stick-on bras – a friend’s mother wore one to my friend’s wedding and only discovered after she’d worn it all day that she was allergic to the adhesive. She blistered all over! Please, test it first!

  10. I was itching to post about the Calvin Klein bra and then I saw it! I LOVE that bra. Extremely comfortable!

  11. I wear a 30A, and had the hardest time finding the right bra for my wedding. I ended up buying a 32A and having the band taken in by the same seamstress that’s altering my dress. She was super nice about it and didn’t even charge me! Just something to think about if you have a small band size. Hope it helps!

    • Some smaller, independent lingerie stores will offer free alterations, too. They certainly would rather you buy a bra then walk out unsatisfied. Don’t be afraid to ask!

    • I am small boobed too (32 A-B), and I bought my long line bra from them.I ordered a couple and kept the QT1100 in 32A. it did fine for its price for my dinner wear. The padding in the entire front is slightly thick though for thin fabric. Be aware of their short return time limit on Bridal undergarments. I think they start counting from the day it starts shipment, and I missed that but they gave me a grace period. Overall nice to work with and I like their additional information on each garment.

  12. I just wanted to share one bra fit tip – the ever mysterious “sister size”. (Yep, I work at Victoria’s Secret…) It’s unlikely that going down just a band size to get a snugger fit will work. Cup sizes are not constant – they vary with the band size. So if you normally wear a 34B and you decide you want a snug fit and go down to a 32B, you may find your cup runneth over. That’s because those two sizes do NOT have the same cup size, even though they are both B’s. (Bra sizes exist to be confusing!) Instead of just going down a band size, go down a band size and UP a cup size. This size (for a 34B it would be a 32C) is your ‘sister size’. It works the other way, too – your other ‘sister size’ (again for a 34B) would be a 36A. If you go that direction, you’ll have a very similar cup size and a little looser band. Happy shopping!

  13. I am a larger chested girl but I wanted to chime in anyways about the Nubra Ultra Lite bra. I bought one although my D’s need more support than it provides because it is SUCH a great aid when taping the boobs. I have tried duct taping my breasts up when I wear backless shirts and dresses and it’s so painful to remove the tape if I don’t have the foundation of the Nubra in place. The Nubra keeps the tape away from the most sensitive parts of my skin (duct tape + nipps = ouch!) and helps shape, letting me use the tape just for a little extra support and security. Anyone of any cup size who needs the invisibility of the Nubra but wants to extra security should try this.

    • Wait, what? Taping big boobs? You can do that? OH THE THINGS I LEARN WHEN I READ THE COMMENTS!

      *runs off to buy a roll of duct tape and some Nubra products*

  14. Any tips for those of us who are middle of the road in cup size (B) but itty bitty in band size (27″ rib cage)?

      • looks like a good site since it’s the ONLY ONE to stock my size in all of these lists. Apparently a 30C is also pretty unusual.

    • Or how about B-sized boobs with an ENORMOUS ribcage? (38s often don’t fit me comfortably – I am very barrel-chested.)

      • I recommend again! They carry sizes 28AA-54D and everything in between.

  15. Great, great post! A skinny girl can often feel left out of the conversation (esp. in SoCal, where the response is, just get a boob job!)

    I, too, wear a big band with small cup: 36AA – a size Vic’s Secret does not stock. The online stores mentioned have wonderful stuff that is rather expensive – would love to buy a $60 bra for daily wear, but can’t justify it. However, I have had good luck finding various A and AA sizes at Kohl’s.

  16. For everyday wear, I’ve finally given up and just started wearing bandeaus from Aritzia – I’m bookmarking these for formal bras though!

  17. I loooove this post! I, too, hate to go shopping for bras and finding only ultra padded models for my small chest size. I hope I can find a strapless bra that will fit all my needs, for once, in the suggestions made! Thanks!

  18. I wore the Victoria’s Secret version of the Nubra and it was awful! I got married outside, and it was around 80 degrees. During our photos, I noticed it had slipped down and only my dress was holding it up, so I duct taped it on before the ceremony. But more importantly, as I was standing in the middle of the ceremony, I noticed it coming down, and by the time we reached the end of the aisle, I had the quad boob going on (my bra was somewhere slightly above my belly button). It was mortifying! So sweat + VS nubra is a terrible idea…

  19. This is a great start as far as helpful advice for women of ALL sizes. My quest, however, is to find something that will suck me in like a corset, pad the heck out of my post-baby boobies, and give me a nice rounded look that won’t be completely flattened by the weight of my dress… Is there even a possibility that this exists?

  20. Thank you so much for posting this! I’m small chested, and mostly just go without a bra. But for trying on dresses with my mom and bridesmaids, I found it VERY awkward to go bra-less! The Calvin Klein bra feels really good, and dress after dress, stayed put. I wore it the rest of the day, and forgot I was even wearing a strapless. Yay for practical posts!

  21. My problem is that I have a normal-size in boobs (c cup) but a tiny back (32, but sometimes, as you have said, I need to go to a 30 to get strapless to stay up).
    I have been told, to my face, that I don’t exist. Go ahead and measure me!
    And no, newbie bra seller, a 34 B is NOT the same. Now the wire cuts into the sides of my boobs and the back rides up.
    I have a feeling that a bustier will be the way to go just do I don’t have to fight the cup-to-strap ratio battle. I think I own 2 bras that fit properly.

  22. Also, if you need a smaller bra, and if you have a chance to go to Asia, drop by any department store, and you would find 32As abound at much cheaper prices.

    • some nice options… shame my band size is 30… definitely going to try the nubra though.

      XD Ok Asia shopping trip sounds like excellent advice to me…

  23. I know I am a fair bit late on this one, but I thought I should mention that bras n things (I am unsure if they have stores anywhere other than aus and nz, but they have an online store) stock a “super push up” strapless bra. I have literally no experience with this bra myself (while it goes up to a d cup I am unfortunately a 10e… A fair bit larger) I have seen other girls where it and it looks great! I also understand that the padding is removable. And it comes in some damn funky patterns and colours! I refinement giving it a shot.

  24. I have a very unique size for my bust of perfectly fitting between a 32 and 36a. I have never seen 34As (well maybe rarely). So I usually compromise between the two for the 3 or 4 clasped back. I am also hoping to spend under $60 on my bust for underneath my semi low strapless dress. I’m pretty petite with hourglass curved hips. I have been looking all over for a bustier or some kind of bra that would be perfect with a dress that I need to push up my chest and fill in for my chest in the dress without looking like I am wearing pads. So yeah, the dress fits me almost perfectly on my waist-down. Just a tiny bit of tightening the dress there and a WHOLE lot of tightening the dress from waist to upper chest line. Any suggestions that would be very affordable?
    Thank you.

  25. I am also very much “Minus size” in every way lol and at my first wedding my dress was very low back and I was pleasantly surprised with the self adhesive silicone cup bra. I thought for sure I would have a wardrobe malfunction at the least but it stayed in place perfectly and actually helped fill my dress a little if you know what I mean. Even after sweating in my outdoor wedding in the Texas summer it still stayed in place! I got mine from target which worked just fine for the couple wears I have gotten from it. Great article!

  26. I trained myself to be comfortable with adhesive bras because they can be very useful when it comes to parties and balls. Because if you’re going to wear a dress that’s backless, then you wouldn’t have a hard time with it.

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