Plunging necklines, open back details, and the ever-complicated cutout trend make for show-stopping looks, but pose one big problem: What are you supposed to do about, ahem, support? Learning how to go braless — and still look chic — is no small feat, but totally doable with the right arsenal of tools, from sticky boobs (OK, maybe that’s not the technical term for a stick-on bra, but your boobs will be getting a little sticky), to boob tape, to nipple covers.
When shopping for these lingerie drawer helpers, Joanna Angeles, the head stylist at e-tailer Tobi, emphasizes the importance of matching your skin tone to the product as closely as possible — and carefully reading the reviews of your different options. Ahead, she breaks down the best practices for finding, using, and caring for the best undergarment fixes out there.
“Sticky bras are great alternative to normal bras,” Angeles tells TZR. “They make it more comfortable for the wearer when bras don’t work for a particular garment.” Another bonus? “They make the garments look more seamless and enhance the way they look on the body.” According to Angeles, sticky bras are best for backless and strapless tops and dresses. They’re also fantastic for low necklines, she says, because they are “not necessarily plunging, but low enough that it shows cleavage.” Sticky bras have the best coverage of the three options because there is padding like a regular bra, but they’re a bit more adjustable thanks to a middle clasp. “The only downside,” notes Angeles, “is [that] they tend to peel off faster than nipple covers or boob tape.” There’s also the choice between silicone or fabric sticky bras, which comes down to personal preference.
Of course, if you’ve never worn a stick-on bra before, the idea of it becoming unsticky and bidding your boobs adieu is pretty terrifying. To make sure this does not happen, proper fit is essential. “For sticky bras, they usually have sizes, so it’s best to go with your true cup size,” offers Angeles. “If you’re in between sizes, I would recommend sizing down — the sticky bras will most likely peel off if there’s gaping.” You can also read the size measurements of the cups and compare them to those of a bra you own to see if it’s the same.
Nipple covers are pretty similar to stick-on bras in terms of mechanics: They’re generally round, fleshy, and sticky. These offer the least amount of support, though, since there are no cups. Nipple covers are generally the best bet for things like wrap tops, sports bras, and crop tops. They are also nice for plunging necklines. “They’re best for the garments that show a lot of skin around the chest area and are probably the best ones for everyday use since they have a longer wear time and are way more comfortable than the other options,” Angeles tells TZR. You just have to make extra sure, though, that you match your skin tone well so they look as seamless as possible, especially with sheer or white garments.
Boob tape is definitely the most difficult option to put on and remove, so it might take some practice before you’re a pro. But if you’re working with complicated details or a plunging neckline, Angeles says boob tape is the best option — and it’s great if you have larger boobs. “The best thing about the boob tape is that it’s customizable,” she tells TZR. “You can shape [it] however you want to whatever you’re wearing, and it’s the best for support for those with a larger chest or people who want a little lift.” To apply, you’ll want to stick the tape vertically from the top of the shoulder to your ribcage so nothing is showing in between.
Alas, all good things must come to an end. Eventually, the adhesive on both silicone bras and nipple covers will give out, but with diligent care, you can stretch the lifespan to at least 10 wears with no nip slips on the horizon. (If your bra has lost its stickiness, it’s time for its retirement.) All this depends, of course, if you’re wearing them for about six to eight hours at a time and storing them correctly.
To avoid wearing your products out prematurely, you’ll have to clean and care for them properly. According to Angeles, that means “washing them with lukewarm water and mild soap and then making sure to let them air dry for 10 to 15 minutes. Avoid leaving them in a dusty area, and then always, always place them back in their container with the plastic seal they come with.” If you don’t put the seal back, the bra will become un-sticky real quick.
You don’t necessarily have to wash nipple covers or sticky bras after every use — Angeles suggests every one to three wears — but it ultimately depends on how long you wear them. “If it’s a whole day I would wash them, but if you’re only wearing them for a couple hours I feel like it’s OK [not to wash], because the more you wash them, the less sticky they’ll be,” she explains. And while you can’t always avoid getting sweaty, note that perspiration does tamp down the adhesive. That also means you should be applying them to clean, dry skin for the maximum wear time.
If your sticky bra is on its last wear, “I would put double-stick tape on the inner edges just so they’re more secure,” offers Angeles. “But I would only suggest doing that if that is the last time you [plan to] wear them because the tape will stick permanently to the bra.”
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For Strapless Tops: Niidor Adhesive Bra
This silicone bra also comes with a pair of pasties, but what reviewers continually discuss is the impressive holding power of the adhesive. Available in sizes A-G, users of all different breast sizes gave this pick a thumbs up. The Niidor sticky bra offers a moderate lift for smaller chests, and, according to reviews, holds larger breasts in place well.
For Value Shoppers: Wingslove Adhesive Bra
Reviewers suggest this bra as one of the best for the low price, noting its sticking power and coverage for small to medium breasts. While the name does say "push-up," users describe more of a "squeezing together" than actual lift. Some also suggest ordering a size up, as they run smaller than other options.
For Skimpy Tops: NIPPIES Nipple Covers
These silicone pasties are smooth and thin, giving a natural, seamless look and comfortable feel. Plus, the non-irritating adhesive lasts for many, many uses. Available sizes are Small for A-C cups and Large for D+ cups, and color options are Coco, Caramel, and Créme.
For Adding Cleavage On Smaller Chests: NuBra The Feather-Lite Super Padded Light Adhesive Bra
The Feather-Lite Super Padded rendition is actually nicely padded, as the name suggests, offering a bit of lift in low-cut tops and dresses. Available in cup sizes AA-B, reviewers love this option for creating cleavage on smaller chests.
For Plunging Necklines: Brostown Boobs Tape
This strong tape is suitable for all breast sizes, adding lift while remaining unseen in deep, plunging tops and dresses. Professional-grade cloth and medical-grade adhesive allow ventilation and waterproofs the breathable fabric. Because the tape is so strong, it is recommended to use oil or lotion when removing.
For Larger Cup Sizes: Niidor Sticky Bra, Breathable Strapless Bra
The butterfly shape on this style effectively and discreetly holds and lifts the chest. It can be hard to find a good sticky bra for bigger boobs, but reviewers are happy to report this one, available in sizes A-F, gets the job done.
For Dancing: Risqué Body Tape
While silicone bras and nipple covers are likely to fall off with some sweating and movement, this stuff stays put all night. Reviewers also mention how well the tape holds up with larger breasts and love the fact that they come with nipple covers.
For A Braless Feel: CHARMKING Nipple Covers
The four-pack comes with reusable round and flower-shaped nipple covers, each tapered at the edges for a seamless, natural appearance. Reviewers love that these feel so natural and comfortable, they forget they're even there.
For On-The-Go Support: Risqué Breast Lift Tape Strips
The strong adhesive is waterproof and stays in place even during workouts or a long night of sweaty dancing. Reviewers are here for the staying power and security these babies provide.
For Adjustable Cleavage: MITALOO Sticky Push Up Adhesive Invisible Backless Bra
Reviewers are loving the fact that this number works for larger and small breasts alike, noting the uber-flattering lift effects. The extra strong stickiness is an added bonus.
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