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Last month, I was in a family wedding (mostly as a child wrangler, but still). In some flush of optimism, I picked a strappy dress with a plunging neckline. The only issue is that I’m in the range of a D(+) cup, and after two pregnancies and two rounds of nursing, my boobs no longer defy gravity. But for some reason, even though I know better, I let myself be seduced by the idea that stick-on bras really work for busty ladies. (Spoiler alert: They don’t, but I gotchu more details on that below.)
The week before the wedding, I kept looking at the stick-on bra box, and feeling panic. If it didn’t work at the last minute, THEN WHAT?
But I kept circling back to what happened when I was getting ready for prom. I’d bought the ’90s version of a stick-on bra, and even for my at-the-time B cup, they were a total last-minute fail, and I needed support. So with my theatre kid ingenuity, I dug up some Duct Tape and… Duct Taped by boobs. I feel like the story should end here with, “And I really don’t recommend it,” but it was more or less fine. Not sexy, very tin man, but fine.
So last month, I kept circling around this idea. Had someone finally made a more fashion appropriate—or at least in-a-variety-of-flesh-tones—version of this product? Was this idea totally bonkers? I work in a fashion adjacent industry, WHY DIDN’T I KNOW THE ANSWER?
I’d like to say that I solved the problem with my in-depth googling skills and stylist connections. But I didn’t. I solved it by ordering a pile of stick-on bras and fashion tape from Amazon, and then having a screen pop up that said, “People who ordered these things also ordered flesh colored Gaffer tape.” And in one SECOND, I knew why. (And not just because I’m a theatre major who’s used Gaff tape to stick down any number of cords to the floor and to spike any number of stages.) A quick google search of Gaffer Tape Bra, lead me to “Kim Kardashian’s boob tape trick,” and I was like, “THERE IS A REASON THAT I’VE ALWAYS FELT AN AFFINITY FOR KIM, AND NOT JUST BECAUSE I LOVE KANYE.”
But as it turns out, while a few people have tested out the Gaffer Tape trick (and Buzzfeed has a great article demonstrating how it works on a variety of cup sizes), only Kim Kardashian was willing to show the world how it looked (and worked) on her actual boobs. Well, till now, because now it’s gonna be Kim and me on the Internet with tape on our boobs.
After wearing Gaff Tape at the wedding (it worked like a charm), and y’all asking me to share more details, we whipped up a little test in the APW laboratories. First, we tried out two of those stick on bras (I would test more for you, but it became very clear it was pointless). Then we tested out two different tape patterns for Gaffer Tape: one for a deep-plunge backless dress, and one for a strapless backless dress. And we also tested to see how form fitting a dress could be before the Gaffer Tape would show. Here are our results.
WHAT NO BRA LOOKS LIKE
Because we’re scientists (of boobs), we had to start with a control. This is what the dress with no boob support at all looks like. The dress is pulling really wide at the top, and the waist is… well, it’s not good.
In short, this is not a look I’d gladly go out in public in. (Though for some reason I’m fine immortalizing it on the Internet, in service of all of our boobs.)
The Le Lusion Bra Review (For A D+ Cup)
First up, the stick-on bras. I tried two styles: the Le Lusion bra, and the deep U-plunge strapless backless bra. There are other varieties of stick-on bras, including the pull-together bra (Buzzfeed reviewed it on different cup sizes), and other bras that claim to be backless, strapless, and push up. I didn’t test them all, because I can tell you conclusively from the tests that I did, that for a D+ cup (and probably sizes below that), stick-on bras are many varieties of garbage. (Cosmo can give you a full rundown of all the awful sticky bras on a D cup, if you’re into that sort of thing.)
But let’s start with the Le Lusion bra, which may be the single most unflattering thing I’ve ever put on my body.
What is this? Somebody please explain. Instead of offering any support, the Le Lusion bra pulled my boobs away from my body, flattened them, and then dragged them floor-wards. Instead of fighting gravity, they helped gravity out. Plus, at least with this neckline, they showed on the side. Maybe these work for a smaller cup size (though frankly, I have my reservations about that), but clearly they should never have been made for a C-cup or above.
In the dress, they offered more support than nothing, but also made my boobs look pointy and lumpy, so I’m not calling that a win.
The Verdict: Literally the most unflattering thing I’ve ever put on my body. These can go die.
the deep U-plunge strapless backless bra REview (For a D+ Cup)
Next up, the deep U-plunge strapless backless bra.
Unlike the Le Lusion bra, this was not the worst thing I’ve ever put on my body, but it was still a short step away from useless.
In the five stationary minutes I spent in this bra, I spent 90 percent of my time thinking about how it felt like it was definitely about to peel off and that I was going to flash someone. And in the additional five ambulatory minutes I spent in them, they actually did start to slide off my body, in a way that felt alarming when I wasn’t out in public. It also showed on the side of the dress, which was much more obvious in person.
Did it offer some support? Yes. But given the fact that it seemed like it was going to remove itself from my body before I even tried to do anything (like say, dance), and it showed under my dress? I was not a fan.
This is better than no bra, if only marginally so. Even better would be not wearing a dress that necessitated a stick on bra, that would consume most of my brain space with concerns about flashing a crowd.
In short: Stick-on bras are not made for women with a lotta boob, full stop.
Gaffer Tape Bra Review (For a D+ Cup)
Next up, the Gaffer Tape bra. Not to spoil the plot here, but this hack is, in fact, everything it’s cracked up to be. It also means that I can finally wear all those plunge and backless dresses that have been firmly on my no-list for twenty years. Here is how it works.
How To Apply A Gaffer Tape Bra:
Cut strips of Gaffer Tape, and affix them to your body one at a time, using the tape to sculpt the bra (and cleavage) you want. Expect to get really handsy with yourself, moving your boobs around to get them exactly where you want them.
While it’s wise to try to keep the Gaffer Tape smooth as you put it on, it’s never going to be completely smooth. So if you’re wearing a dress with less forgiving fabric, remember that you can put a few strips of tape on top to help smooth everything out. (You can also use less tape than I used here, depending on how much lift and security you’re going for.)
Next up, check your neckline, and then take scissors and trim the tape so that nothing shows. (Once the bra is sculpted, you can cut a shocking amount of the tape off and still have it work well.)
Finally, use fashion tape. You probably don’t want anyone to see that you’ve covered your boobs with a product found at Home Depot, so use fashion tape to affix the dress to your skin to make sure it doesn’t move around.
Answers To All Your Other Pressing Gaffer Tape Questions:
How Much Support Does It Offer? I’m a D+ Cup. That said, Kim has a lot more boobs than me, and I can pretty much guarantee you that Bey’s post-kid boobs are not holding themselves up with #Slay power, so this trick works for those of us with way more than a handful.
What Necklines Can You Wear This With? We tested this out with two necklines: the backless deep V (you can also see me wearing it with a backless plunge V here), along with creating a strapless backless bra. Both worked shockingly well.
The surprises were that the tape is so strong that you don’t need to use over the shoulder support to get it to work. Beyond that, the backless strapless bra that I crafted felt more supportive (and frankly more comfortable) than my regular strapless.
How Long Does It Stay In Place? Since I’d already worn one to a daylong wedding, I knew that without a doubt it would offer support and stay on even through sweat and dancing.
How Comfy Is It? A lot has been written on the Internet about how uncomfortable it is to wear Gaffer Tape on your boobs, and I think the hype is a little overblown. Again, during a daylong event, I found it totally fine. But that said, it does feel like you’re wearing tape on your boobs. It does not, in any way, feel like slipping into an oversized t-shirt and watching Netflix. So if what you’re looking for is comfy and effortless, then for goodness sake pick a dress that allows you to wear a normal bra. I found it somewhat comforting to feel tape on my boobs all day, because it let me know that I was still supported and not flashing anyone.
TL;DR: Gaffer tape feels like the opposite of a stick-on bra. Instead of the feeling that the bra is falling off your body, you have the feeling that the bra is VERY STUCK on your body. But all in, totally fine for an event.
Will It Hurt Your Skin? I have sensitive skin, and took tape on and off myself three times in one afternoon to shoot this, and my skin wasn’t particularly irritated. It feels a bit like ripping off a not-too-sticky Bandaid. That said, you are putting GAFF TAPE ON YOUR BOOBS, so if you’re not into going the extra mile for fashion, this is not for you.
Should I Try This If I’m Allergic To Adhesives? No. Please, no. In fact, if you know that you have any relevant allergies or sensitivities, do a patch test first. (Note: I have generally hyper-sensitive skin, and had no issues, but I don’t have any related allergies.)
Will It Show Through Your Clothes? I tried this bra with this sleek Halston Heritage gown, since it’s the kind of dress that likes to highlight every lump and bump on your body. While you could probably guess that I had something under the dress if you looked at my chest very closely (but why are you looking at my chest that closely?), no normal non-chest-starer would have noticed anything out of the ordinary. I wouldn’t use this (or any other) trick under silk or satin, however, since those fabrics show literally everything. And I would only use it under a darker colored and heavier scuba fabric.
Would I wear this day to day, just to get a deep plunge blouse to work? Hell no. It’s industrial tape. On my boobs. But for an event, as long as going the extra mile for clothes is something that you’re down for (and probably, let’s be frank, used to), this trick is a Godsend. After twenty years, I’ve realized that I can finally wear all those backless, strapless, plunging neckline dresses and tops, and I am so, so, excited.
Bonus? It’s cheap AF. Unlike those expensive and worthless stick on bras, my roll of Gaffer Tape cost me under $20, and it’s going to last me the next decade (or until I lose it in a hotel room somewhere).