Universally flattering (which is why, as Racked reported, 75 percent of all wedding dresses are strapless), accessory-friendly (think statement necklaces), and perfect for showing off your bronzed shoulders, strapless dresses are a classic go-to summer staple. But here’s the catch: They’re incredibly annoying.
When going strapless, it feels impossible to make it through the day without having to pull up your dress at least a couple dozen times. We all fear the slip. But actually, constantly tugging at the fabric is only going to make your dress more likely to fall down, since you’re stretching it and creating a looser fit.
Don’t give up hope just yet! To help cope with the woes of this warm weather favorite, here are seven expert pieces of advice that’ll make wearing a strapless dress as fun and carefree as it’s meant to be.
1. It’s All About The Boning
A tube dress doesn’t offer much support up top, but a dress with a bit of boning in the bodice will be more structured. “A proper, quality-infused strapless dress retains an hourglass shape even on the hanger,” fashion uber-consultant Tim Gunn told Oprah . “No shapeless sacks!”
The subtle boning on this dress will help keep it from falling down. (Motel Pastel Bloom Lace Dress, $32, nastygal.com)
Also consider: Vera Wang Bustier Lace Dress, $188, Amazon
2. Layer A Shirt Underneath
Try layering a T-shirt underneath your strapless dress. The extra fabric will hold up better against bare skin, plus it’ll add something unexpected to your look. Diana Tsui told readers over at The Cut to layer turtlenecks underneath strapless dresses. “The trick is to find a dress that doesn’t have layers of chiffon or beading, as solids or patterns work best for the silhouette,” she writes. “Then wear it with a contrasting top. This top could be graphic (think black velvet with white), or you could experiment with color blocking by mixing fuchsia with navy.” You’re probably going to want to steer clear of turtlenecks until cooler fall days come around, but a tee would work well with summer styles.
Jason Merritt/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Julia Roberts beautifully demonstrates a version of tip No. 2 at the 2014 Golden Globes. (Image: Getty Images)
Try: Splendid Long-Sleeve Turtleneck, $58, Amazon
3. Rubber Is Your Friend
Some strapless dresses come with a thin silicone rubber strip that lines the entire inside top seam. This provides a bit of resistance against your skin so that it’ll be less likely to fall down. “There’s nothing worse than seeing a woman wear a beautiful dress [and] constantly tugging on it,” celebrity style expert Felix Mercado tells eHow Style. “[The rubber insert] keeps it adhered to your skin without any sticky tape.”
This white dress will keep you cool all summer and has a “silicone gripper band” built in. (Superdry 50s Folklore Dress, $103, superdry.com)
Also consider: Plenty by Tracy Reese Sushi Dress, $102, Amazon
4. Sticky Tape Is Second Best
If your strapless doesn’t have that thin rubber band, use a bit of fashion tape instead. It won’t ruin your clothes, but it will save you the embarrassment that comes when a neckline starts to head south.
Apply two strips at the front of your dress for a super quick fix. It wouldn’t hurt to stash a few extra strips in your purse either, especially if it’s going to be a late night. You never know when you’re going to need some reinforcement. ( Hollywood Fashion Double Stick Strips, $7, A mazon )
5. Pin It
When you’re running low on the double-sided tape, try a few safety pins instead. I’ve used this trick many, many times and, trust me, it works. “Take some safety pins and pin your bra to the dress,” Mercado tells eHow Style. “It’s very simple, it’s very easy, and it’s a quick fix.” Just be sure to pin from the inside of your dress so that eyes aren’t drawn to the shiny silver object. Ask a friend to help you pin the back, too!
6. Don’t Go Braless
Strapless bras can be finicky, but they’re generally a good idea when you’re opting for a strapless dress. It’ll give your frock something to grab onto and it will also add some shape to the bodice. There are a ton of different options on the market these days, so pick a style that suits you. And no matter how tempted you might be to wear a bra with straps underneath your strapless dress, please don’t. This is never a good look.
This strapless, backless bra is perfect for strapless dresses that have any sort of cutout in the back. (Nordstrom Intimates Backless Strapless Bra, $36, Nordstrom)
Give your chest a boost with this strapless push-up. It’ll fill out the top of your dress, making it less likely to fall down. (Bombshell Add-2-Cups Multi-Way Bra, $58, victoriassecret.com)
Also consider: Maidenform Custom Lift Strapless Bra, $21, Amazon
7. Do The Bend And Snap
I dread the thought of dressing rooms unless there’s a movie montage involved (namely, The Sweetest Thing and Sex and the City). Me, I’d rather just pick something out, pay for it, and try it on in the comfort of my own home. But if you’re on the prowl for a tricky piece such as a strapless, making a quick trip to the dressing room is a good idea. It’s less likely that it’ll be as sure a fit as, say, a basic tank top. “When you’re in the dressing room, raise your arms and bend over to make sure you don’t fall out,” Tim Gunn and Victoria’s Secret spokesperson Monica Mitro tell Oprah . In other words, put the move immortalized by Legally Blonde ‘s Elle Woods to work. There’s nothing more awkward than a nip slip on the dance floor.
Even using one of these tricks will improve how you look and feel in a strapless dress. Here’s hoping that there are many more bare-shoulder days ahead of us. We’ll be bundled up in knit sweaters before you know it, so embrace summer style while you still can!