Last month I was at a family wedding (usually fighting kids, but still). In some shades of optimism, I chose a strapless dress with a plunging neckline. The only problem is that I’m in the D (+) cup and after two pregnancies and two breastfeeding cycles, my breasts no longer defy gravity. But for some reason, even though I know her better, I was tempted to think that underwire bras are actually good for curvy women. (Spoiler alert: They actually don’t, but there may only be nipple soap.
A week before the wedding, I looked at the bra and felt panic. If it doesn’t work at the last minute, WHAT?
But I kept going back to the events as I got ready for prom. I had bought the 90s version of the underwire bra and also for my B cup of the time, at the last minute it was a complete failure and I needed support. So, with my theater boy wits, I pulled out some duct tape and… taped the breasts. Old school dummy strap, hello. I think the story should end with “And I really don’t recommend it”, but it was pretty good. Not sexy, very tinny, but good.
So last month I was kicking this idea. Had someone finally made a more fashionable version of this product – or at least in different shades? Was this idea completely crazy? I work in an area close to fashion, WHY DON’T I KNOW THE ANSWER?
I would like to say that I solved the problem with my deep Google skills and my connections with stylists. But I didn’t. I solved it by ordering a bunch of bras and duct tape from Amazon, and then a screen popped up that said, “People who ordered these things also ordered flesh-colored duct tape.” And in an instant I understood why. (And not just because I’m a theater student who used Gaff tape to secure any number of cables to the floor and assemble any number of stages.) A quick Google search for Gaffer tape bras led me to the “Kim Kardashian’s dak”, tape trick”, and I knew immediately the time had come, and this would be the answer to all my worries. (I mean, Kim is known for showing off whatever she’s wearing, wherever she goes. go.)
But it turns out that while some people have tried the Gaffer Tape trick (and Buzzfeed has a great article showing how it works for cups of different sizes – too bad the images are now gone from that post), only Kim Kardashian does. Savage. show the world how she looked (and worked) on her real boobs. Well, until now, because now Kim and I will be on the internet forever in duct tape vests (and these pictures will stay because we love you so much).
After using Gaff Tape at a wedding (it worked like clockwork) and you all asked me to share more information, we did a little test at the APW Labs. We tried two of these strappy bras first (I’d try more for you, but it turned out to be a no-brainer). Next, we tested two different ribbon designs for the Gaffer ribbon: one for a backless dress and one for a strapless backless dress. We also tested how tight the dress could be before the Gaffer ribbon appeared. Here are the results.
WHAT DOES NOT LOOK LIKE GRAPES
As (breast) scientists that we are, we had to start with control. This is what a dress without a bra looks like. The dress is very loose at the top and the waist is… well, not right.
Basically, this isn’t a look I’d like to go out in public with. (Although for some reason I could very well immortalize it on the internet, for the benefit of all our breasts.)
LE LUSION BRA REVIEW (FOR D + CUP)
Bras to confirm first. I tried two styles: the Le Lesion bra and the deep strapless backless bra. There are other types of support bras, including pull-on bras (Buzzfeed rates them in different cup sizes) and other bras that claim to be backless, strapless, and push-up bras. I haven’t tested them all because from the tests I’ve done, I can say that bras that fit a D+ cup (and probably sizes smaller than that) are all sorts of junk. (Cosmo can give you a full rundown of all the horribly tacky D-cup bras, if you’re into that sort of thing.)
But let’s start with the Le Lesion bra, which may be the most flattering thing I’ve ever worn on my body.
What is this? Someone explain. Instead of being supportive, the Le Lesion bra pulled my breasts away from my body, flattened them, and then dragged them to the floor. Instead of fighting gravity, they helped gravity go away. Also, at least with this neckline, they showed off on the side. These might work for a smaller cup (although I honestly have my reservations about that), but they clearly should never have been made for a C cup or higher.
In a dress, they were more supportive than nothing, but they also made my breasts look sharp and round, so I wouldn’t call that a win.
VERDICT: Literally the most uncomfortable thing I’ve ever done to my body. These can die.
REVIEW OF THE U-PLUNGE BRAIDELESS (D + CUP)
Unlike the Le Lesion bra, this wasn’t the worst thing I’d ever worn on my body, but it was still one step away from useless.
In the remaining five minutes I spent in this bra, I spent 90 percent of my time thinking about how I felt about it coming off for good and about introducing someone. And in the extra five minutes of walking I spent there, they actually started to slide out of my body in a way that seemed alarming when I wasn’t in public. It also showed on the side of the dress, which looked much better in person.
Did you give support? Yes, but because it looked like it was coming off my body before I even tried anything (like dancing) and showed it under my dress? I wasn’t a fan.
JUDGMENT: This is better than no bra, if only by a little. Even better would be not wearing a dress that requires a bra, which takes up most of my brain space worrying about showing off to the audience.
IN BRIEF: Adhesive bras are not made for women with lots of boobs, period.
GAFFER BOOB TAPE BRA REVIEW (A D + CUP)
Next up is the Gaffer Tape Bra. Not to spoil the plot here, but this hack is pretty much it. It also means I finally get to wear all those low-cut dresses that have been firmly on my no-list for 20 years. This is how it works.
ATTACHING THE GAFFER TAPE VEST:
Cut strips of Gaffer tape and glue them to your body one at a time. Shape the bra (and cleavage) you want with the tape. Wait until you are really close to yourself and move your breasts to get them exactly where you want them.
- While it is wise to try to keep Gaffer tape flat when applying it, it will never be completely smooth. So if you’re wearing a dress with a less forgiving fabric, remember to stick a few strips of duct tape over it to smooth it all out. (You can also use less tape than I’ve used here, depending on how much lift and security you want.)
- Next, check the neckline, then take the scissors and cut the ribbon so that nothing shows. (Once the bra is formed, you can cut an amazing amount of tape and make it work properly.)
- Finally, use duct tape. You probably don’t want anyone to see you covering your boob with a product from Home Depot, so tape the dress to your skin to make sure it doesn’t move.
- WITH WHICH SCHOOLS CAN THIS BE USED? We tried it on two necklines: a backless deep V (you can also see that I have a backless deep V in the back) and a Backless Strapless Bra. Both work incredibly well.
The surprises were that the tape is so strong that you don’t need to use a shoulder support for it to work. Also, the Backless Strapless Bra I made felt more supportive (and frankly more comfortable) than a regular strapless bra.