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Friday
Nov042011

Dear T30SB: Strapless Gown Slippage Advice

I received the following email recently and thought that the answer might be something all brides could use a little help with:

Found your blog while researching the Wtoo Liane gown used in one of your blog entries.  Any idea of what under garments the bride wore underneath?  My daughter is getting married later this month and is experiencing some anxiety with dress slippage.  She is a size 2.  Thanks in advance for any info! –Merry

Well Merry, you have a very good question here that I’m certain many brides could use some assistance with. You didn’t mention your daughter’s cup size, but since she’s a size 2 I’m going to go ahead and assume her rack is as petite as she is.

The key to avoiding strapless gown slippage is all in the alterations. Your seamstress must know what she’s doing. In order for the gown to fit snuggly in the boobs and to remain in place, the fit around the waist needs to be exact. Particularly with the Liane gown (a ruffled-skirt ball gown shape), the weight of the dress is meant to be carried on the hips. If it’s snug around the waist and your daughter has hips, the dress won’t go anywhere.

That isn’t to say that the bust line doesn’t need altering. That area should fit too, but the top of the bust line should not feel tighter than the waistline. If it does that’s where the overall weight of the dress will fall, causing slippage.

Also note that during the course of the day, the dress will stretch a little – as do all clothes as you wear them about. Plan on this. Make sure the gown fits tight at the final fitting, but not so tight that you seriously can’t breath. Slightly uncomfortable is OK, you’ll be able to breath later, I promise.

Larger busted gals: be wary of having your gown fit too tightly under your boobs versus your waist. Don’t use your gown as a support system for your massive rack. Your strapless bra is your support system. Again, the tightest spot is where the bulk of the weight of the dress will fall and you want that to be primarily at your waist, so the gown doesn’t slip down over your hips.

If your gown laces up the back, make sure those laces are tight. Have your MOH adjust them pre-reception to help keep the dress fitting like  a dream the rest of the night.

Let’s say you have your gown altered and it fits like a dream. Then let’s say you’re like me and without trying, you drop 5 pounds the week of the wedding and now your gown is too big. What’s a bride to do? Bring back up.

By back up, I mean boob inserts. I like to call them chicken cutlets. I wrote about mine here

image

Photograph by Jonathon Campbell Photography

Guess which size I wore? Yeah, I went for the bigger ones. I needed all the help I could get. My dress also had sewn in bra cups so I could go sans bra. I don’t suggest this on a strapless gown though. There are 800 billion strapless bra options out there. If you’re not sure which bra will work, buy a couple you think work and feel best. Keep the tags on, try it on with your gown at your fitting and return the ones that don’t work. Check with the store’s return policy first, but you really shouldn’t have any trouble with this. Inserts will be much harder to return, usually because they are sold in a way that you have to destroy the packaging to get at them.  They aren’t terribly expensive and will be worth the boob-headaches on your wedding day.

Last but not least, double sided sticky fashion/lingerie tape with help keep the gown from moving around and showing nipple – as a last resort. DO NOT RELY ON THIS TO HOLD YOUR DRESS UP ALL NIGHT. Fashion tape is used mostly to keep fabric in place, not as a support system. If you’ve never used fashion tape before, do a little research. A make-up artist gave me some once to use on a model for a TruLu Couture fashion shoot and that shit was like super-glue. It ruined the piece I used it on because it simply would not come off. Think about how that might feel on your skin all night. Give it a test run first to see how your skin reacts to it (do this in an inconspicuous area on your bod). You don’t want a hideous rash creeping up around the edge of your gown now, do you? No, I think not.

OK, I thought I was done, but I’m not. Another last resort is a sash. If you’re gown was altered incorrectly and it’s not snug enough at your waist and hips, consider a last minute sash. You can buy one from any number of resources (Etsy, Cargoh, your bridal gown shop) or you can make a quick trip to the fabric store and buy yourself some 3-4” wide satin ribbon and DIY that sucker. Having a sash cinched around your waist will help transfer the weight there to keep your gown up. Consider it a fun reception piece since that’s where you’ll be doing most of your moving around.

Whew. OK, Merry? Did I answer your question thoroughly? Here a recap…. First: Alterations. Second: A good, supportive  bra worn during the final fitting. Third: Boob inserts. Fourth: Fashion tape. Fifth: Sash.

Good luck and let me know how it all turns out!

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Reader Comments (5)

My seamstress was able to add an elastic band, about 6 inches wide, into the bodice of my dress. With hook & eye clasps at varying positions, I was able to adjust it to the tightness that I wanted so that I could still breathe & eat but didn't have to worry about slippage. I'm a size 2, 34A, so if it worked for me, right? As a bonus, it reduced the cost of the alterations.

November 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCaitlin

@Caitlin - Some gowns have these bands built in (go back and look at my post regarding Costco gowns - they have them built in) and they help a LOT with fit. Some gowns don't have the infrastructure to allow for them to be added. Lots of better quality gowns will have built in bodices that allow for a more personalized fit and reduce the cost of alterations.

November 4, 2011 | Registered CommenterLouise

I'm going to add two cents for the large-busted ladies (a thing, as you know, I know a bit about). I purposefully bought a dress with wide shoulder straps because I wanted to be able to wear a bra with straps (my girls, they don't just need support, they need a mother-f'ing truss). I was surprised (appalled?) to discover that I could not find a single bra with straps that would fit under my dress without showing. Here was the problem: bras designed for large-breasted women are generally designed to have more coverage on the sides/underarm area and the cleavage area than bras for smaller breasts -- even bras that are supposedly the same style. The result was that every bra I tried was too high in the cleavage and under the arms.

I even tried a body suit bra that was designed to allow for a plunging neckline. The problem here is that these bras don't provide lift (I'm really not certain what the purpose was, but the result on me was that the body suit bra pulled my breasts far apart and then left an unflattering line bisecting both breasts, taking away the lovely cleavage and creating the illusion of four, lower-than-they-should-be half-breasts. Loverly.

I ended up with a Victoria Secret convertible bra that was a cup size too small because Victoria Secret doesn't make their bras in anything larger than a DD. This bra worked because it had that rubberized stick-em stuff, plus gel inserts along the bottom, which shoved my boobs up above the plunging neckline of the bra. BUT. It was not by any means what I would consider a true fit.

Also, a thing to note about the larger cup sizes -- at several lingerie stores (Victoria's Secret being chief among them), the bra fitters tried to tell me that I could get the correct fit by going up a size (from a 34 to a 36) to make up for the fact that they don't carry the correct cup size (I need a DDD instead of a DD). This may be true for smaller cup sizes, or larger women, but it's not try for someone like me, who has a fairly small rib cage but carries most of her weight in her chest and hips. What happens if I go up a size in a regular bra is that the straps don't fit and will slide off, while the too-small cup size causes my breasts to shift to the center, giving me the oh-so-lovely uniboob look. When you try to increase the diameter of the bra to make up for the wrong cup size in a strapless, it's even worse. The bra (which will stretch out from wear during the day) will slide down my ribcage, and if the bra that is padded (as most strapless bras are), I end up looking like some four-breasted alien who belonged in the Cantina on Tatooine.

The only reason that the Victoria Secret bra worked with my wedding dress was because the dress itself was an empire-waisted dress that was fitted snugly right under my bust, which held the bra in place. Had the dress been looser, the bra would have shimmied its way down to my waist in no time. If I had thought about it sooner, I might have gone to a tailor to have a bra (that fit correctly) sewn into the gown so that there was no risk of it showing or sliding down. But, alas, the dress ended up being an afterthought.

November 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

I am the original author that sent the question. Great news! My daughter's dress ended up having a corset sewn into it, and she looked lovely, with no slippage, no tugging, and was able to dance the night away! According to her the dress was great fun for twirling. Would love to post a pic

December 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMama of the Bride

@Mama - Send a picture for SURE! I can add a follow up to this post! Great news! I am so happy she was able to get get her twirl on!!

December 1, 2011 | Registered CommenterLouise

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