Today I’m going to help you with the small but critical matter of bridal underwear, and in particular bras for a backless dress. I’ll be going over underwear solutions for a range of wedding dress designs, but it’s backless wedding underwear that tends to be the most awkward to get right, especially if you’re busty! But don’t panic – it is possible to find wedding lingerie that works for a backless dress – I’ve done it myself and found the perfect backless bridal underwear.
When I found my wedding gown, it was not quite the romantic vision I’d looked forward to for my year-long engagement. I’d thought I’d see it, know it, and snap it up. I also thought I’d be spoilt for choice because until wedding dress shopping, I really didn’t think I was that fussy. When it comes to clothes, I like a range of styles – it should have been a breeze.
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But that’s not quite how it happened. After a couple of fruitless trips my budget was increased to whatever it took to find something I liked, and I considered spending an absolute fortune to satisfy my determination to feel good on my wedding day.
In the event and out of exasperated desperation, I found an off the peg dress for £300 in a department store and had it delivered to my home.
I tried it on alone in my bedroom and I wasn’t sure. I slept on it, decided I didn’t hate it and kept the dress. And that’s when the nightmare began: it was beautiful. And it was backless.
Before we go any further, this hopefully goes without saying, but based on various statistics I often see bandied about, I’ll mention it anyway, just in case:
If you’ve not recently (or ever!) been professionally fitted for a bra, make sure to do so before you start shopping.
(For the modest among you, rest assured you’ll be measured over the top of your underwear.)
I’ve always found Debenhams to be very good, but I’m sure other department stores are equally fine. (Having said that, during my pregnancy I was measured – very badly – at a well-known children’s department store. I was told by the lady in question that I had been incorrectly measured in Debenhams using an inaccurate formula. I had to return my maternity bras for a different size, ascertained using my own limited knowledge and a degree of common sense; the kind of common sense that sets alarm bells ringing when you have four boobs instead of two. You’ve been warned…)
In terms of underwear requirements, there are essentially three awkward dress-types that need to be catered for. All others should fall into one of these categories: the plunging neckline; backless bridal underwear; and halter or strapless bridal underwear. Let’s take a look:
Bridal Underwear for a Plunging Neckline
Frankly, I’m not convinced that this wedding dress design was intended for anyone other than the waspish, waif-like Keira Knightley. If this is your style then you’re a braver woman than I and no doubt rocking a killer body, and you’ll look knock out assuming you nail the underwear! You’ll need to acquire a bra or bodysuit with a corresponding plunge, which are available from most department stores.
This one from Wonderbra is ideal:
Okay ladies, it goes without saying that the halter is the simplest fix; you’ve likely already been through the trials and errors of finding the perfect halter bra for your summer holidays, but just in case, here are my recommendations…
I find Figleaves is a great starting place for well-fitting bras. They offer several different options in DD+, and they are sturdy enough for the larger-bosomed woman. They’re also cater for a small back, with plenty of choice on their website.
You’d do worse than going for Wonderbra again, with this particular style going up to an H cup:
It does exist, but it’s not all made equal! Let’s dive in and see what backless wedding underwear is likely to be a disappointment in terms of offering adequate support, versus what backless bridal underwear is worth investing in to showcase your beautiful gown.
Do Backless Strapless Bras Actually Work?
In a word – no. At least not in my experience. You’ll find that much of the support afforded by a strapless bra comes from the longline design. And this is precisely why backless bras are so difficult for the buxom lady. So, first things first, unless you are svelte and waif-like…
Do not, under any circumstances, consider a stick-on bra*.
How Well Does a Backless Bra Work?
If you find the right style, it can work pretty well.
The saving grace for me was that my dress had straps. I’m going to go ahead and take a punt that any woman blessed/cursed with a generous cleavage is unlikely to choose a dress that is both backless and strapless!
(If you prove me wrong and successfully rock a dress that’s both backless and strapless, escaping any inadvertent flashing, bras hats off to you. Please pop by the comments section below and explain this incredible feat – with all due credit to the brassiere manufacturers!)
What are the Best Bras for Backless Dresses?
Going back to longline strapless bras which provide the critical support required for a busty lady, this poses a problem when you don’t want any bra on show at the back. There are a couple of ways around this:
Bra Strap Extender/Converter
If you’ve not come across these before, they’re a clever little creation which simply clip onto the clasp at the back of a standard bra, wrap around your waist, and then attach to the other clasp. However, having tried this myself with limited success, I’d dissuade well-endowed readers from this option. Unfortunately, the idea is nice in theory but rather falls down in practice – literally. Not quite the classy look you’re going for on your wedding day…
After a lot of hunting around, I finally found a single product that worked very well. I’ve not found anything else similar on the market, but I can highly recommend this if you’re a voluptuous lady looking for backless bridal underwear.
My wedding dress was slinky and very unforgiving. So, almost by accident, I discovered the answer to my problem…
I purchased a bodysuit comprising a short slip with built in pants, tummy control panel, and a supportive lip that sits below the bust. The back is very low; the straps very close to the arms. Admittedly, this contraption did not even have a bra built into it, which seems counterproductive.
However, between the straps keeping the shapewear firmly in place, and the structured cups of my perfectly altered dress – it worked!
Everything stayed where it ought to – no slippage, no mishaps.
Different types of shapewear are available, and I did try some with built in bras. Unfortunately, they tend to be designed for women of perfect proportions and are available to buy in dress sizes.
Alas, if you’re blessed with an hourglass figure then buying a dress size as opposed to a bra size will result in either wearing the equivalent of a tent, or sausages escaping both under your arms and beneath your chin.
If your dress is not substantial enough in the cup area to go braless, you may find a stick-on that works in tandem with your shapewear. Having said that, I personally despise them; and for anyone requiring proper support up top, with the help of a good dressmaker, stick-on bras can and should be vetoed.
My best piece of advice, then? If you know underwear may pose a problem for you, keep this in mind when shopping for your dress, and don’t set your heart on any gown until you’ve figured out what undies will work with it.
Bridal Underwear: a Final Observation
A lot of the wedding lingerie I’ve recommended barely deserves that name – it’s not exactly beautiful, after all. Alas, your wedding day is not the time to be precious about sexy undergarments. On this day, first and foremost, it is there to serve a purpose. In fact, most shapewear is not ugly per se, it’s simply plain. And, of course, you have your honeymoon to follow…
My post The Wedding Night Secret Nobody Talks About examines the reason your wedding lingerie is almost inconsequential anyway!