Let’s make one thing clear: There is nothing wrong with showing off your bra. But sometimes a bra really can ruin an outfit. With a wedding or prom dress, or just one of the season’s trendy backless tops, it’s nice to just let the clothes do all the talking without the interruption of a hook and eye. And while we also support the free-the-nipple movement, not all of us can or want to go completely braless. “It’s funny how nipples are a trend over the years,” says Cindy Kahng, the owner of East Village lingerie shop Azaleas. “When we first opened and Sex and the City was the craze, it was more about showing off your hard nipples. Remember Samantha’s fake nipples pasties? Then we went through a phase of seamless everything - seamless undies, bras, slips, etc. Now it’s back to just showing it all off. But for some occasions, bras are still just necessary.” So we asked Kahng and three other lingerie experts about the best options out there. Below are their picks for the best backless bras and boob tapes for when you’re in the mood for boobs that are sitting.
Fashion Forms was mentioned by two of our experts. As far as solution-oriented undergarments go, they are relatively affordable and can be easily found everywhere, from Target to your favorite department store. “The brand Fashion Forms has a lot of different backless and strapless options,” says Courtney Killpack who runs the lingerie store Bosom Besties and the Instagram account Bra Fittings by Court. There’s everything from the chicken cutlet style backless bras to lifting petals to silicone skin bras. Your boob size and outfit will help determine the best option for you, but this plunge style is a favorite of lingerie expert Cora Harrington. She points out that “since most of the support of a ‘regular’ bra comes from the band, a backless bra, a bra without a complete band, won’t be able to give you that same lift and support.” This one does have padding and underwire, which supports much better than nothing. It works for an outfit that is both backless and low-cut, thanks to its U-plunge. They make this one up to a D-cup, but other Fashion Forms styles go up to a size G. No matter what you go with, Harrington says, “I would recommend testing it out before your event and wearing it with your garment.”
“I also enjoy a longline low back bra, such as this one from Va Bien,” says Harrington. If you don’t need your back completely bare, and you’re not worried about a plunge in the front, this bustier will do the trick. It has the same underwire and padding as the above, but the added bonus of the support from the extra wide band. “You’d wear this bra with something that has a low back, but not something that is backless,” explains Harrington. “It’s a good bridal underpinning for example, especially if the bride doesn’t want a bustier that covers the entire torso but still provides firm, all-day support.”
“NuBra is a staple,” says Kahng. These chicken cutlet style bras might be familiar, generally, but they come in a variety of styles. The silicone version appears more more natural looking than other styles that are padded or made from textiles. These look and are shaped more like real boobs but can add an extra cup size if needed. Of their silicone offerings, this one is the lightest weight. And most importantly Kahng says it “stays on even through the heavy heat.” It comes in cup sizes A to D, but she says it can work for up to a double D. “It’s all about how you pull it up to get the support and then the clasp in the middle gives a little cleavage, too.”