Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Trouble With Strapless. (A Rant.)

I understand that clear bra straps aren't truly invisible, but what I didn't expect to find when I Googled them, hoping to find pictures of them actually worn with clothing (seriously, are there any?), were lengthy message boards about the "ugliness" and "unacceptability" of bra straps showing, period.  I'm tired of the stigma.

Image from
Nope, Lane Bryant, this isn't a picture of 
"clear bra straps under a dress."

I understand that there are a variety of strapless bras available in the full-bust market.  But even if they work very well for some women, others still won't be able to get much lift or a very good shape from them.  Some women will not have the time to find one that really works if they have to go to an event.  Some women are hesitant to spend so much money on an undergarment they might only wear once (strapless bras are usually more expensive for the full-busted).  And I'm tired of being told, "But they make strapless bras in your size!" as if their mere existence means that I can wear them without any problem.

Because darn it, I really do need the straps.  Bust room is usually provided in a certain area, waistlines are assumed to be here, armholes are just here, and if your chest doesn't remain within certain limits, a garment might not fit right.  For me, even though many come in my size range, I've never had a strapless bra keep me within those limits.*

<--Provided bust room

<--Where bust sits in strapless bra

... Nope. Nope. Nope.

Image from

On these snarky message boards about bra straps showing, I'd often read, "That is just so tacky!" And on more than one occasion, this sentiment was followed by, "I'd suggest an adhesive bra if you have to wear something more revealing."  Perhaps all of this just caught me in a bad mood, but it royally ticked me off.  I couldn't help but think that if currently have trouble finding decent strapless bras at a fairly common full-bust size, imagine how women with larger breasts must feel when confronted with this sort of "advice."  Basically, what I see when I read this type of comment is: Choose to wear things that cover your bra straps, or I'll judge you and talk about you behind your back.  And if you have to wear a particular style for a party/formal/wedding/etc., you can get something with inadequate support/poor shape and likely feel less attractive in it than your less-busty companions.  (Oh, and by the way, I'll probably judge you for the way your breasts look in it, too.) 

And let me tell you about my last adventure with an adhesive bra.  I was 18 and going to prom, and because I wanted to fit in--I'm not saying this was a good or mature choice--I just had to get the cute low-backed spaghetti-strap dress.  I ended up with a Nu-Bra and a good four, maybe five feet of duct tape trying to get it to hold me up and make everything look halfway decent.  I was hot and uncomfortable, and whenever my date (Mr. Nerd. Yes, he remembers this.) would bump into me, there was a dull, hollow thudding sound like rapping on cardboard box. Also, taking that sucker off hurt.  

Seeing how some people make clothes out of it nowadays,
I should have just made an entire dress out of the stuff.

I do adhere to situation-specific guidelines.  I don't wear a strappy top to someone's family event if I know the family is on the more conservative side.  I try to be respectful of any cultural observations. But I'm not OK with discounting an entire subset of clothing because someone is going to get into a tizzy over visible bra straps.  I think that attitude is, well, tacky.  And adhesive bras are great for some people.  But just as I wouldn't go around saying, "Taking supplements is tacky!  I'd suggest changing your diet," to all and sundry**, please, please don't go around recommending them as as cure-all for people's strapless ailments.  

They're not.  Trust me. 

*Except the strapless basque under my wedding dress, which had to be altered along with my dress, which was a custom item itself.  But I'm not willing to do that every time, for obvious reasons.
**"Well, if your child just has to be anemic, then I'd suggest more spinach." 

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