What bra to wear with every type of dress

Dress season is well and truly upon us. The weather is scorching and the shoulders are out, but with every cute summer dress comes a frustrating bra conundrum. From strapless and halterneck to cross back and plunge, we’re faced with an underwear minefield that our typical every-day bra just doesn’t cover.

When going braless isn’t an option and your dream dress has a cat’s cradle of straps, look no further than our guide to the best bras for every hard-to-wear style. It may change your summer.

Off the shoulder

Dress, £46, River Island

We’ve all turned to Spanx in an hour of need when a last-minute outfit is crying for some shapewear, but did you know they also do bras? The Spanx Up for Anything Strapless Bra is designed to feel as dreamy as their more renowned products, using Spanx SmartGripTM technology and With Me tape to provide a smooth grip that lasts all day.

Spanx Nude Up For Anything Strapless Bra, £64, Next


Dress, £79, & Other Stories

For those of us that shudder at the thought of going braless, a cross-back dress is our worst nightmare. However, Boux Avenue have come to the rescue with a convertible cross-strap fastening, opening our wardrobe up to a world of cross-back possibilities. Available in a range of colours, and sizes up to a DD.

Zoe high apex non-padded bra, now £10, Boux Avenue


Eywasouls Malibu dress, £180, net-a-porter.com  

Backless dresses are generally another style that fall into that no-go category for those of us who hate going braless, but no longer! We know this Fashion Forms bra looks like it requires gravity-defying breasts and some invisible scaffolding, but stay with us; this isn’t magic, but amazing technology. The wireless cups provide a smooth finish, but it’s the adhesive strips that hold all the power. Granted, it’s a temporary fix, with a bra lasting 25 uses, but with sizes going up to a size E and strong reviews across all stockists, its slowly but surely changing the dress game for women everywhere.

Fashion Forms bra, £25, John Lewis


Dress, £69, H&M

Plunge dresses are perfect for holidays and balmy summer evenings, and allow us the opportunity to tan an area that would otherwise be buried a good few layers deep. However, a plunge dress requires more support and structure than you might think. If your breasts tend to gravitate together, a bra like the Gossard Superboost has you covered. The front fastening creates the necessary separation needed for a plunge dress, while the padded cups lift and enhance. And if you ever find yourself lusting after a cross-back plunge dress, these straps help you to cover all bases. Available in sizes B-E.

Gossard Superboost Lace Deep V Bralette, £37, Figleaves


Dress, £290, Self Portrait

The racer-front is the neckline of the season and is incredibly flattering even on bigger busts, despite being a sportier cut. You could totally get away with a strapless bra for this one, but if there’s an opportunity for that extra support, you’re going to take it. Say hello to Intimissimi’s racer bralette, with an underbust band and thin straps. Available in sizes S, M and L.

Bralette in lycra lace, £32, Intimissimi

One shoulder

Dress, £75, Oasis

Technically the Wonderbra Multiways Push-Up Bra is a strapless bra with adjustable straps – but as much as we have a love/hate relationship with multi-way bras, there are just some styles where they are the best solution, especially if strapless just doesn’t give you the support you need. Wonderbra are a lingerie institution, and a reliable brand when it comes to style and fit, so you know you’re in good hands – this bra is perfect for these popular one shoulder styles.

Multiways Push-up Bra, £32, Wonderbra

Square neckline

Dress, £60, Monsoon

A dress with a square neckline is probably the easiest bra conundrum to solve, but if you don’t have the right one it can ruin the whole look. There’s nothing worse than adjusting your bra straps all day so they hide under the straps, or looking back at holiday pictures to spot your not-so-colour-coordinated bra poking out from the corners. High apex bras just do not work for these types of dresses, so opt for balconettes, as their straps sit wider on the cup and the cup shape mimics that of the dress’s neckline.

Bra, £40, Fruity Booty


Dress, £456, J by Jasper Conran at Debenhams

We have all experienced the pain caused by a strapless-turned-halterneck bra, converted merely by one thin strap stretching from one shoulder to the other, and almost severing us by the neck at the same time. Beija have taken this all on board with their Buff bra. The front fastening works alongside the structured wiring, ensuring that the strap isn’t doing all of the heavy lifting. The triangular straps also spread the support across the shoulders, rather than placing it all on the neck, for a comfortable fit that will see us through the longest of summer days. Available in sizes B-G.

Buff Z Bra, £65, Beija

Feature by Stephanie Sofokleous