Maggie Gyllenhaal sports a strapless dress at the "White House Down" premiere in New York City.

The Proper Undergarments for a Strapless Dress

by Whitney DeGroat

Strapless dresses can look sleek and sexy -- with the right undergarments. All sorts of wardrobe disasters, such as dress slippage or gaps at the bust, are imminent without a proper bra. And, of course, you don't want the straps of your everyday bra to be visible in your stunning dress. Create the right infrastructure for a strapless number to keep style mishaps at bay.

Begin With a Bra

Wear a bra that works well with a strapless dress. Because of its lack of straps, strapless bras of all styles rely entirely on fabric strength, underwire shape and band design for the support of your breasts. A well-fitting bra will help you avoid "spillage," which happens when flesh is pushed outside the bounds of the bra. To steer clear of spillage, ensure that the cups are deep enough to pull the breasts forward and large enough that your breasts aren't crowded out of them. Make sure your bra band fits low and snug at your back.

The bandeau bra is a strapless bra with no underwire and very little support; it's best used for coverage. Convertible bras have detachable straps that can be rearranged into any style to suit your clothing; simply remove the straps to turn it into a strapless number. Longline strapless bras have bands that extend to the waist or lower; they smooth your figure from the bust downward.

Shape It Up

With rigid fabrics or elastic cut into particular shapes that condense body fat, shapewear molds -- and holds -- your figure in place. From boy shorts to girdles to slips, each shapewear piece is designed to work underneath whatever you're wearing. For a strapless dress, wear boy short-style shapewear with a convertible bra. While the convertible bra will eliminate the strap issue, the shorts -- which should reach up high enough to compress your belly -- will smooth out your lower half. Still, don't be afraid to experiment; a half-slip style, for example, may work for you as well.

Stick It to 'Em

The sticky, or self-adhesive, bra is actually just a pair of bra cups lined with a layer of adhesive; no straps or bands are attached. They may be held together by a clasp in the front, or remain separate. This type of bra is ideal for coverage, not support. It hides erect nipples and, in styles enhanced by silicone, can add to your bust size. Most self-adhesive bras stay in place until you take them off yourself, and can be worn several times. Just remember to peel them off carefully to avoid injury.

Sticky Situation

A strapless dress can slip little-by-little throughout the day or night. Avoid a wardrobe malfunction by using double-sided tape; wig or toupee tape will also work in a pinch. The tape will hold up your dress by adhering it to your body, allowing your clothes to stick as closely as a second skin. Determining where to place the tape along your body is a matter of trial and error. Place it about an inch below the top of your dress for support at the top, and along your rib cage to hold the dress up from below.

About the Author

Whitney DeGroat began her writing career in 2007 at "The Springfield Paper." She has also written for newspapers such as the "Springfield News-Sun" and "Dayton Daily News" and served as a fashion columnist for "The Torch." DeGroat received a Bachelor of Arts in English at Wittenberg University.

Photo Credits

  • Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images