The strapless bra: how does it stay up?

Updated November 21, 2016

Strapless bras, an essential part of most women's wardrobes, are worn with tube tops, strapless dresses and racer-back tops. They incorporate multiple techniques to help them to stay in place and recognising the variations can help you choose the best styles to compliment your clothes.


Strapless bras are held up by strong elastic in the lower band. The strongest elastic bands are made from a wide strip of fabric that resists when stretched and springs back readily to its natural shape. It's important to choose a strapless bra that fits correctly -- too tight causes discomfort and too loose may not stay in place. When purchasing a strapless bra, ask a salesperson for assistance with measurements to find the right size.


Many strapless bras are lined with a strip of silicon along the lower and upper bands. This soft and slightly sticky plastic is lightly grips the flesh to prevent slippage. While a strapless bra that relies on adhesion may be a good choice for a day of minimal activity, adhesive plastic alone is no match for rigorous activities. Many high-quality strapless bras feature both strong elastic and adhesive plastic for maximum support. Some elastic bands include adhesive elements in the form of exposed plastic loops that stick to the skin and add grip.


Curved underwires are often sewn into padded fabric beneath both cups of a strapless bra. The underwires that help strapless bras stay in place are made differently than those of bras with straps. Strapless underwires curve to hug the rib cage so that when they're pulled against the flesh by a strong elastic band they help the bra stay up. The wires in strapless bras are also flatter and have more surface area than those in other bras. Strapless bras without an underwire are called bandeaus, which may be sufficient for women who wear size A or B, but may not provide sufficient support for rigorous activity or women with fuller figures.


Boning is incorporation of vertical plastic strips built into a bra for support and staying power. It's the technique that gives corsets their shape and is used under the arms and at the centre front of some strapless bras -- areas not supported by underwire. Boning provides stiffness to the fabric as well as staying power when pulled against the body by strong elastic. A bra that features a silicon adhesive, a strong elastic band, underwire and boning is supported in almost all areas and most likely to stay up, though you may need to tug and adjust your strapless bra occasionally during dancing or other activities.

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About the Author

Emma Rensch earned her B.A. in writing for contemporary media from Scripps College in 2011. Currently, she lives and writes in San Diego.