Corset and Strapless Bra: low-back solution for fuller busts!
In Summer of 2014, I purchased this lovely dress from Zumel & Co in Toronto. Although I love the dress, it has a bit of a low back (enough that my bra band shows in the back). One question I receive quite often, especially from brides, is whether it’s possible to have a low back overbust corset for precisely this reason, and it got me thinking.
If you commission a custom-made overbust, creating a somewhat-low back is theoretically possible (to a point). However, a problem arises especially if you are heavy busted: you’re not going to get the same breast support if you have a very low back. You’ll notice that most overbust corsets don’t have a back that stop close to nipple-height, and not usually lower than under the shoulder blades. This prevents the front of the corset from flopping forward, away from your body. You may be able to adjust that support with halter straps for instance, or even (cringe) heavy duty double sided tape. In any sense, it’s going to be mighty difficult if not impossible to achieve a corseted silhouette with a backless dress.
If there were a cupped overbust corset that allowed you to wear backless, strapless dresses (think Jessica Rabbit) with perfect support, I believe that thousands of people would be all over that! However, in my journey though corsetry, I have never actually found a corset that’s been able to achieve this.
If you want full support along the fullest part of your breasts, you must rely on the fabric wrapping around the entire torso at that same line.
The same premise holds with long line corsets – if you want a lot of control of the lower tummy, you could put many stiff, rigid steel bones in the front, but if you have a protruding lower tummy that resists these bones, the whole bottom front of the corset could end up bowing outwards (especially if the front of the corset extends down into a point and is cut high over the hips). With a longline corset, it helps pull in a lower tummy easily because it has extra fabric that starts at the pubic bone and wraps around the hip area along a similar height, and around to the back. The tension of the fabric wrapping around the body acts as leverage to help pull that protruding tummy inward.
So, what can be done if you want to wear a low back wedding dress, especially if you’re quite heavy-busted? What I did in the above video was a trick that Ashley (Lisa Freemont Street) taught me a few years back:
Find yourself a well-fitting strapless, longline bra. The Goddess brand strapless low-back bra works great for my purposes, and I love that the lightly boned cups provide support while retaining the roundness of the breast and it gives a slightly vintage shape to my bustline (it doesn’t flatten my bustline like most modern cut strapless bras seem to do). There is a silicone band around the top to help keep it in place on my skin as well.
As it’s a longline bra, it also has a few bones coming down and stopping at around navel height – this helps keep the garment smooth and prevent it from rolling up. If you plan to wear this bra underneath corsets, you can absolutely remove some of the bones in the bra so as not to irritate your skin by having the stays smushed up against your ribs under the corset. I like to wear this bra with an underbust corset (usually a cincher or waspie, which stops lower on the ribcage) worn over the bra – the corset also helps anchor the bra in place so it’s less likely to slide down over the course of the day. Even if I don’t utilize all the hooks and eyes of the bra (you can fold some of the top ones down if you need to accommodate for a lower back), the bra still stays in place due to the silicone strip and the anchoring of my corset.
One thing to look out for, however, is having a bit of “muffin top” with this combination. When you wear very short cinchers or waspies, the more of your ribcage it leaves exposed/ unsupported, the bigger the risk of it giving you “muffin top” (a roll of skin that folds over the top of the corset when worn). The fact that it’s combined with a longline bra in this case does help to somewhat combat this, but how much “muffin” occurs will depend on the person as well (how long your torso is, how low the back of your dress is, and whether your body tends to ‘displace upward’ or ‘displace downward’ in a corset).
There is rhyme and reason to the corset I chose to wear over my longline corset as well! In this video, I’m wearing the True Corset mesh cincher because it’s cut quite straight across at the ribcage and hips – there are no “points” to bow outwards and protrude underneath clothing. As a mesh corset, although it may not last quite as long as other corsets, it makes for more breathable, lightweight undergarments, and therefore a more comfortable experience – especially if you’re planning to wear a warm outfit in a warm venue!
Other inexpensive mesh corsets that hide well under clothing is Orchard Corset’s mesh CS-411 and mesh CS-426 (for those who prefer longline), as well as Madame Sher’s mesh cincher. As much as I adore custom fit corsets, I understand that weddings can be exorbitant. Even the cost of an OTR mesh corset combined with the Goddess bra comes up as cheaper (and quicker to ship) than commissioning a custom overbust corset with a lower back (and, of course, they can be combined with other outfits after the wedding!). Even though a mesh corset may not last a lifetime, it should at least last through your wedding day!
If you have ideas for other corset and bra combinations that work well underneath your low-back outfits, leave a comment down below and help out some other potential brides on a budget!