Photo Credit: Courtesy Retailers
From strapless to backless and everything in between, our 32DD tester tried bras in designs created to work with all types of summer outfits. Read on to learn her favorites.
If you’re wearing something strapless…
Removing straps from a bra doesn’t have to mean removing support—or stability. Our model tested each of these styles with a strapless dress (dancing the “YMCA” in the fitting room and then clocking weeks of real-world wear) and they scored A’s across the board.
Le Mystere Soiree Strapless Bra
bloomingdales.comWhat it is: Foam-lined cups, a wide 4-row back closure and double side boning provide more support than your typical strapless silhouette.
What we think: “Some strapless bras drag you down, but this one has extra support at the bottom of each cup, which means it lifts really well. Plus, the cups have a nice curved shape that’s not too pointy.”
To buy: Le Mystère ‘Soiree’ strapless bra #9756, $76 at bloomingdales.com
Felina Body Luxe Strapless Bra
freshpair.comWhat it is: A strapless bra with impressive stay-put power, thanks to silicone strips at the sides and back that anchor the bra against your body.
What we think: “This bra felt super smooth and didn’t dig into my skin or underarms. The lower cups are key—because what’s the point in owning a special strapless bra if it’s peeks out above most strapless dresses?”
To buy: Felina ‘Body Luxe’ strapless bra #150671, $44 at freshpair.com
Chantelle Intimates Sensua Strapless Bra
nordstrom.comWhat it is: A natural shaping bra with smooth cups that gently separate and define breasts.
What we think: “Of all the bras I tried, this one gets top points for comfort. You seriously have no awareness that you’re wearing a strapless bra. Great for long days running errands in a tube top-dress.”
To buy: Chantelle Intimates ‘Sensua’ strapless bra #222825, $76 at nordstrom.com
If you’re wearing a t-shirt…
Looking great in a t-shirt, knit dress or tight sweater is all about smoothness, separation and uplift, three characteristics these bras have in spades.
Felina Enchanted Memory Foam Contour Bra
designerintimates.comWhat it is: A seamless, full-coverage bra that molds to your shape—and shows off a sexy leopard print.
What we think: “This bra feels much more luxurious than the price tag would suggest. The cups are super-soft and the ‘wings’ are lined so they don’t dig in. Most importantly, you couldn’t see it under my thin tee.”
To buy: Felina ‘Enchanted’ memory foam contour bra #130566, $44 at designerintimates.com
Le Mystere Safari T-Shirt Bra
nordstrom.comWhat it is: A natural shaping bra that disappears under knits.
What we think: “I could work out or sleep in this bra, it’s so comfy and supportive—and you don’t slide around in the cups. Extra points for a subtle animal accent interwoven into the fabric”
To buy: Le Mystère ‘Safari’ t-shirt bra #377694, $68 at nordstrom.com
Paramour Gorgeous Memory Foam Bra
freshpair.comWhat it is: Cut to flatter cups sized C through G, this is a silky-smooth bra at a great price.
What we think: “Cue mattress jokes: This full cup bra is made with memory foam cups, which mold to your breasts for a smooth, perky look under knits.”
To buy: Paramour ‘Gorgeous’ memory foam bra #255455, $39 at freshpair.com
If you’re wearing a tank top…
When a traditional bra meets a tank top, back bulges, side spillage and visible bra lines can occur. Luckily, these bras are designed to make everyone play nice.
Shapeez All-In-One Ultimate Bodyshaper Bra
unbelievabra.comWhat it is: This long bra’s patented ‘smooth back design’ eliminates back bulges and visible bra lines, while the no-roll hem stays put as it gently slims your torso. And unlike other camis, larger busts get substantial support.
What we think: “Bye, bye back fat! Describing this bra-cum-bustier’s virtues makes me sound like an infomercial. But seriously, it’s about time designers learned that the back of a bra matters, too.”
To buy: Shapeez All-In-One Ultimate Bodyshaper bra, $89 at unbelievabra.com
Spanx Bra-llywood Hills Side Slimming Underwire Bra
zappos.comWhat it is: A seamless underwire bra designed to smooth at the sides and back.
What we think: “I love how sophisticated this bra feels. It gives me 360-degree smoothing with thinner-than-usual padding. The hardware is a lovely shade of rose gold, too.”
To buy: Spanx ‘Bra-llywood Hills’ side slimming underwire bra #1499, $68 at zappos.com
If you’re wearing a lightweight blouse or silky top…
The thinnest fabrics call for barely-there bras with little-to-no padding. But can they support? Yep, if it’s one of these.
Curvy Kate Princess Balconette Bra
freshpair.comWhat it is: Serious support and lifting in a darling flocked polka dot pattern.
What we think: “This bra’s cups are sewn from strong, non-stretch tulle fabric like they used in the olden days, which turns out to be really supportive and sexy. And since each cup is sewn in panels, you still get great freedom of movement.”
To buy: Curvy Kate ‘Princess’ balconette bra $68 at freshpair.com
Le Mystere ‘Caress’ Unlined Underwire Bra
bloomingdales.comWhat it is: A feather-light bra that skims the body while providing stellar support.
What we think: “It’s hard to find an unlined bra that even comes in larger sizes, nevermind one that delivers adequate support. This no-frills style does an amazing job, and goes up to F sizes. This is as close to going braless as I’ll ever get!”
To buy: Le Mystère ‘Caress’ unlined underwire bra, $68 at bloomingdales.com
Wacoal Enchantment Underwire Bra
hsn.comWhat it is: An unlined, three-section cup bra with lovely lattice detailing.
What we think:“I love that French cinema-inspired look of a lacy (but definitely not padded) bra worn under a slightly sheer blouse. This creamy confection from Wacoal, available up to size G, lets me fulfill my fashion fantasy without sacrificing support.”
To buy: Wacoal ‘Enchantment’ underwire bra, $62 at hsn.com
If you’re wearing a plunging neckline…
Some women fret over buying a dress for a special occasion. For our model, the hassle is finding a bra to wear underneath that dress—especially if it’s plunging in front or scooped low in back.
Va Bien Marquise Low Plunge Basque Bra
vabienusa.comWhat it is: Smart design and patented uplift technology combine in this plunging bra sewn from delicate stretch lace. The straps can be worn traditionally, halter-style or criss-crossed.
What we think: “Unlike any bra I’ve seen! Thanks to some sort of hidden hydraulics, you can practically wear a dress cut to your belly button and still look sleek, supported and separated. Oh, and I think ‘power tulle’ is my new favorite fabric.”
To buy: Va Bien ‘Marquise’ low plunge basque bra #2526, $85 at vabienusa.com
Jane Johnson is a contributing writer for iVillage. Follow her on Google +.