What is a Low-Back Bra?

Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen
Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

A low-back bra allows women to wear backless or low-back clothing without having to worry about visible bra straps. The low-back bra has specially designed straps that cross lower on the back and then wrap around in front. This allows women to have the support and coverage of a bra without ruining the effect of a backless dress, bridal gown, or prom dress. Other low-back alternatives include adapters as well as backless bras.

Bras are an indispensable part of a woman's wardrobe. In addition to providing her with comfort and support, a bra is essential to obtaining a proper fit from a person's clothing. Unfortunately, not all clothing styles accommodate bras easily. Strapless bras can make it easy for women to wear strapless or spaghetti-strap dresses, but the back of the bra may still be too high for some low-back clothing. For that reason, bra makers have designed numerous types of bras that allow women to wear a wide range of clothing, even clothing that is low-cut, strapless, or backless. The low-back bra is one of many specialty bras on the market intended to meet the needs of women who frequently or occasionally need to wear backless garments.

Many women only need to wear a low-back bra occasionally because most backless garments are intended as special occasion or club wear. Some bra manufacturers address this by offering a convertible bra with detachable straps that can be adjusted as necessary to accommodate all types of clothing styles. Some of these convertible bras are convertible to a backless bra and even provide matte, transparent straps that are attached to the top of each cup and either worn traditionally or behind a woman's neck so they are covered by her hair. This provides additional support when the bra is worn in the low-back style.

Other alternatives to a low-back bra are low-back adapters, which can be attached to any bra to pull down the band strap and harness the bra in front. Another innovation is the backless bra, which consists of two cups that attach at the front. The inside sides of the cups are lined with an adhesive that sticks to the woman's skin and holds the bra in place. The backless bra provides coverage and some support while not requiring any straps at all, allowing a woman to wear dresses with extremely low backs or tops that simply tie in back.

Discussion Comments


Wow. After reading these posts, I am kind of glad I have little reason to wear fancy dresses. I actually think it is more beautiful and bold to wear something modest, so I just stick to buying dresses that are modest for the most part. Not only do I not have to worry about exposing myself, I also do not have to worry about spending time and money buying uncomfortable bras.

There have been a few times that I have gone to formal events, and have worn backless dresses. I know this defeats the purpose of wearing a low-back dress, but I normally wear a light formal dress jacket over my formal dress, that way I don't have any embarrassing warddrobe malfunctions!

Earlier this year I went to a party and borrowed a pretty black dress from my sister. I wore a jean dressy jacket over it, and I am so glad I did! The dress ended up ripping where the zipper was on the side, which left some exposed skin, but thanks to my jacket, it was my secret!


I have a strategy regarding low-back bras: avoidance. I had to wear one with a bridesmaids dress a few years ago, and it was a nightmare! Halfway through the reception I was tempted to just take the bra off and go bra-less. However, it was a pretty formal affair, so I had to refrain myself.

Low-back bras are just so uncomfortable that I try really hard never to purchase an outfit on my own that I might need to wear one with. I prefer a simple bandeau bra, thank you!


@starrynight - I've never been a big fan of dresses and tops with built in bras either. They just never seem to fit me right.

I am a big fan of convertible front closure bras though. Instead of having to purchase five different kinds of bras, you can just buy one! I have a convertible bra that converts into a regular strapless bra, a halter bra, or a low-back bra. It also came with clear straps or straps that match the color of the bra.

I think this bra has saved me a lot of money over the last couple of years because it can be worn in so many different ways!


@Kat919 - I would prefer to go bra-less or wear a low back strapless bra rather than wear a dress with a built in bra. Or, built in boobs as I like to say!

At least you can buy a low back bra that's your exact size. You can try out several to see which one fits correctly and shop around a little. But when a dress already has a bra built in, you're stuck!

I think built in bras often have too much padding and are shaped very strangely a lot of the time. I find them to be very unflattering, for myself anyway.


Do they make a low-back bra converter for shelf bras?

I have a gorgeous shelf bra that does wonders for my cleavage but it just doesn't hide well if I wear a low-back dress. I know I can pick up another bra on sale, but I just want to go to the hassle when I have a perfectly good bra already. OK, when I have many bras already.

I want to wear this specific bra because it perfectly matches my dress, so if anything peeks it will blend in with the fabric of my gown. I prefer to keep my bras matching.


I've tried on quite a few clear strap bras with a low-backs so you couldn't tell I was wearing one under my low-back tops and it is just so hard to stay comfortable. I have found that if you usually require bras for small breasts your best bet is to just buy some of those stick-on bras that have padding and you're good to go.

I love that the stick-on bras are easy to wear and keep everything in place without needing to fiddle with straps. Though, I will admit, if you're larger than a B-cup I doubt that the stick-on bras would work for you. For us smaller ladies though they are a god send.


@Kat919 - I agree with you that some of the blame needs to be laid at the feet of dress designers. It used to be just special occasional dresses that were backless, and you could get a hideously uncomfortable special bra to wear with them.

But now, you see more and more casual dresses with halters, low backs, or tiny spaghetti straps that make it just about impossible to wear the best, supportive bras.

Young girls often seem to either just go without or let their bras show; I don't think either alternative is attractive! For now, I'm picking dresses with better coverage and hoping that bra technology continues to improve.


What I don't understand is why so many dresses get made that it's so hard to wear a bra with! Especially when the alternative is to include a bra in the dress - problem solved. (I know that makes fit a little more complicated, but I think it's worth it.) I have a halter dress with a built-in soft cup bra that I really like.

I remember shopping for a backless strapless bra for a wedding. If you don't want to go the self-adhesive route, the only alternative is a bra that comes down to your waist in front, where it fastens! (I think they also used to call these "longline bras.") But when I got married, I just had them sew cups into my wedding dress, and then I didn't have to wear a bra at all.

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