The Truth about Backless dresses

During the year, especially at Bridal and Prom Season, we are inundated with requests for strapless, backless bras and bustiers. We stock a fair number of garments that fit the bill, but the truth is, there is a reason that none of the major lingerie manufacturers around the globe have been able to engineer such a garment for very large breasts: it’s called physics.  

I don’t know how to stress this enough: If you are well endowed, and wear a bra size larger than DD, Go Shopping For Underwear Before You Go Shopping For The Dress.  

Let me repeat that: Go Shopping For Underwear Before You Go Shopping For The Dress.  

You can’t imagine how many times brides have walked in here expecting us to have some kind of miracle garment that will uplift the breasts, cinch the waist, and tame thigh jiggle, all without straps, back and supporting side structures, because the salesperson at the bridal salon told her, no problem, sure you can find a backless bra in 38J. Personally, I would never deign to tell someone what they could or couldn’t find at another business establishment, and I take umbrage at the fact that bridal consultants lie to their customers all the time in order to make the sale. This mythical garment does not exist.  

Strapless garments never give you the same lift as a bra with straps regardless of the size, and once you remove all the other supporting structures, the sides and the back, well….it’s like telling an architect to just build the front of a building.

If you consider an average D cup, which is on the small side in these times of food laced with growth hormones, weighs 4 pounds, you’d understand the reason that not one of the major bra manufacturer’s worldwide have been able to engineer a backless, strapless bra that will lift and support G cups or bigger. The laws of physics make it impossible to counteract the effects of motion and gravity to lift 6-10 pounds of flesh without the benefit of all the structures that encapsulate, lift and support the breasts.

I once received a photo from a potential customer of the dress she wanted to buy for her wedding.  The model wearing said dress was 6 feet tall, 98 pounds, and flat chested, no boobs. The center front of the dress plunged to her navel, and the back draped all the way down her slender frame to her butt crack. The picture was annotated with “Do you have a bra that would work with this dress? I wear a 38K bra.” A photo of the customer was also attached.  She was 5’3, 225 pounds, wore 38K, and had a short torso to boot. She was round, had a belly roll, and did not have the long, lithe body of the model in the photo. I responded that we did not have a garment that met the requirements of the dress. She replied, “you were my last hope.”

I was not pleased that we couldn’t help her, and wondered, is this dress really worth the emotional torture of trying to make it work?   

I understand that many women have had an image of the fairytale wedding gown since they were 8 years old. And that’s fine as long as you are honest and realistic with yourself. Ask yourself, Will this dress look the same on me as on the model? Evaluate the model’s body, her height, weight, breast size, length of her arms, whether she has long legs or a long torso. Is she straight and skinny, or round and curvy? Is the model wearing any undergarments that you can detect?  Compare the body in the photo to your body, and ask yourself, how will that dress look on my body? What are the features of the dress that appeal to you? Don’t be fooled by advertising or photoshopped images, and be honest!

Dress for the body you have, not the body you wish you had.

If you’ve “never found a strapless bra that worked” in your size, and have avoided such fashion that required one, why would you choose, for the most important day of your life, to torture yourself with a dress for which no under structures exist?

I wholeheartedly believe that regardless of the size you are, your body is beautiful. I also believe that it is critical to be honest with ourselves about our bodies, and dress in styles that fit and flatter our shapes.  It can be brutal to be honest with ourselves, but in the long run,  it makes us wiser women.

Our power as women comes from us accepting who we are. And who we are not, and who we will never be. Self acceptance does not mean we have to love everything about ourselves. But that muffin top is part of what makes you, you. The jowls I’m developing as I age are my mother’s jowls, and they are now part of my aging profile. I don’t like it, but I accept it. What good could come from me fretting over or denying this? To do so would rob me of peace and contentment. Once we understand these things, we are empowered to release limiting ideas, and joyously be our true selves.

I am not my body. Neither are you. We are souls inhabiting these bodies. How boring would the world be if we all looked the same?

To feel good about yourself, and move in the world with confidence, maximize your assets and minimize the flaws. If you’re not sure about how to do that, or don’t know what looks good on you, ask a stylish friend, or even invest in a style consultant to help you choose your wardrobe wisely. Develop a personal style, experiment with different looks. Don’t follow trends, and forget the Kardashians — the extremes they go to are ridiculous and impractical. Is duct taping your breasts for lift, for a plunge down to there dress, and ripping your nipples off removing that tape, really worth it?

A proper fitting bra can help you look 10 pounds thinner, and 10 years younger in a New York minute. By lifting the breasts off the belly and repositioning them high on the chest, the torso looks longer and leaner. It’s important to wear a bra that centers your breasts, and doesn’t give you the dreaded “east-west” spread, which makes your body look wider. If you wear a DD cup or larger, this is especially important. Even and especially on your wedding day.

The wedding industry is a multi billion dollar per year business, and wedding gowns are a major expenditure in the overall wedding budget. When shopping for your dress, bring undergarments with you. They will change your shape and the way the dress falls on your body. Consider styles that allow you to feel confident and comfortable — a smile makes us extra beautiful.  

Gowns with deep v-necks, or portrait necklines, are a better choice for very full busted women, opening up the face, neck and decollete. You will be able to wear a supportive bra, and shapewear if you want or choose to. Strapless bras are available to a G cup that do offer support, but they are not, and cannot be backless.

Fashion is about developing a personal sense of style — a particular shade of red lipstick for instance — and wearing clothes that fit you well so you can present your best self. You only get one chance to make a first impression — might as well make it a good one.

RECAP:

  • Go Shopping For Underwear Before You Go Shopping For The Dress.
    Take your undergarments to try on dresses.
  • Dress for the body you have, not the body you wish you had.
    Be honest and realistic about your body size and shape. Love yourself just as you are.
  • We may be fairy bra mothers but we cannot perform miracles.