Finding the Perfect Strapless Vintage Style Bra – Wednesday Wish List #12

On Sunday I wore the new-to-me vintage dress I picked up at The Vintage Bazaar. I love this dress; it fits me so perfectly and I haven’t had to make a single alteration. It washes really well and I’ve had quite a few compliments about it already. (Excuse my crumpled state but I’d been sat down for a while).
Vintage Gal

However, when I put it on for the first time to wear it out, I realised, because of its narrow straps, the straps of any bra I chose to wear was going to be on full display. Okay, it doesn’t look too bad with the one I have on in the photo but from behind they are very obvious. That’s when it dawned on me, I don’t own a single strapless bra! Cue major panic and eventually calming down and deciding it was okay to show a little strap. For now.

This, of course, then set me on a journey to find a new strapless bra. However, as I much prefer to create a vintage silhouette, I needed to figure out what sort thing to look for. I could try and get an authentic vintage bra but I have enough trouble trying to find any vintage bra in my size so it would probably take me years to find a strapless one. Therefore, based on original vintage pieces, this week’s Wednesday Wish List is the perfect strapless vintage style bra.

The Overwire Bra

Vintage overwire bras

The overwire bra was popular during the 1950s and created a slightly softer look to the bullet bra. The placement of the wire didn’t really perform any technical function like the underwire of today but, instead, offered a different shape to other bras of the time. It also featured heavily in strapless bras as the wire helped to defy gravity and keep the shape intact.

Modern overwire bras are very much a niche market now and you’ll find the odd one being produced by vintage/retro reproduction lingerie companies, as well as independent designers such as Nearer the Moon.

Her Sexellency overwire bra

The Dita Von Teese Her Sexellency overwire bra has been around for a while but is still available on ASOS in red. It’s absolutely gorgeous in the flesh and has so many lovely vintage details on it that most modern bras wouldn’t even dream of featuring. However, it is only available in a very limited size range, 32A – 36C, and, being a 34DD, I have no chance of getting into one.

Kiss Me Deadly overwire bra

Instead, I think I’ll hold out for this stunning Kiss Me Deadly overwire bustier. Apparently, the construction of it is still being worked on so it won’t be available for a while but, as with everything they do, I’m sure it will be amazing once it is in full production. And I, for one, will definitely want to get my hands on one.

The Boned Bra

Boned strapless bras

The boned bra featured vertical boning inside the cup to shape and support the bust. This was perfect for the non-wired bras of the 1950s as it allowed the bra to be produced in a conical shape as a strapless option. Just what you need for all those beautiful strapless evening gowns.

Elila longline bra

This Elila strapless bustier from Ample Bosom (great name!) is a lovely modern version of the boned bra. The US based Elila brand produce intimates for ladies with a fuller figure so, this not only has the vertical cup boning, but also has spiral and metal boning all the way around the torso for shaping, control and support. It comes in white, nude and black and in a wide range of sizes from 34B up to a 46H!

The Backless Bustier

Vintage backless bustier

The backless bustier became popular towards the end of the 1950s and the early 1960s. The shape fell into a deep V across the back and fastened securely at the waist. It featured a more modern style cup with an underwire and often created a shelf style silhouette, pushing the bust upwards. Think Barbara Windsor in the early 1960s Carry On films.

Carnival CA237 Bustier

The Carnival CA237 strapless lace bustier is produced as part of their bridal range and features the low back style. It is boned around the front and features spacer foam for a gentle uplift in the cups, although you’ll never achieve a Barbara bust in this! For further shaping a powermesh layer has been added and the back is finished with a standard 3 hook-and-eye closure. It’s available in three colours, white, ivory and black and from a 32A to 40D. I have read that the cup sizes run a little bit larger on Carnival bustiers so it would be best to go down a size.

The Skirted Merry Widow

Skirted merry widows

A Merry Widow is a longline bustier that shapes into points at the bottom where the suspender straps are attached. A corselette in this style was released by Warner in 1955 which was named after the 1905 operetta, The Merry Widow. However, what I have a real passion for, and get really excited about when I see one I haven’t seen before, is these lace skirted versions. They have such a playful sexiness about them and it’s a shame they aren’t popular today.

Cadolle Malia Juliette merry widow

The only thing I could find that was remotely similar (excluding cheap, tacky designs of course) was this Cadolle Malia Juliette Bustier. However, it is very much like an overbust corset rather than a corselette with defined cups and, unfortunately, it doesn’t have any suspender clips but it really is quite exquisite. As far as I can tell, it is only available in the US and costs a whopping $540, so, I’m not sure I’ll be purchasing one in a hurry. It doesn’t stop me drooling over it though.

The Garter Slip

Vintage girdle slip

The garter slip or girdle dress is a 1950s classic and basically looks like a bodycon dress or shapewear dress with suspender clips. It’s aim is to give you a smooth silhouette from your bust down to your thighs. All of the vintage ones I have seen seem to defy gravity. This, of course, was due to their incredible firmness which sucked you in and forced you to stay there which, in those days, was accepted as the norm. These days we opt for comfort over that perfect figure but there are still a few modern pieces available that work almost as well.

Gossard Retrolution bridal slip

Gossard recently released their bridal range which is based on their very popular Retrolution range (I have the bra, panty girdle and briefs in pink). This Bridal Slip is the first they have done with removable shoulder straps. Their previous design wouldn’t have worked as strapless due to its low plunging shape at the cleavage. In the photo it doesn’t look that tight around the thighs, however, if it is as firm as the panty girdle then I think this is just due to the size the model is wearing. It is only available in the ivory but does come in a good range of sizes from 32B up to a 36E.

I think I’ve decided on the backless bustier for now but will definitely purchase the Kiss Me Deadly overwire one when it comes out. Do you own a vintage strapless bra or have you seen a similar modern one?


Just a vintage gal suffering from the Golden Age syndrome. A lover of all things old, especially the 1930s, seamstress, crocheter, maker of hats and enjoys rummaging at flea markets.


  1. Dress looks lovely! Have such lovely new stock in now too vintage gal! Follow me on facebook to find my next fairs!! Loulabelle. x

  2. Thank you for featuring larger sizes. I’m a 34GG and going bra shopping is the worst. Well, up there with shopping for evening wear. (The two collide: giant ugly bras and slinky evening wear simply don’t go, and that’s all the shops usually have…)

    • I absolutely agree. Why should large bust equal ugly lingerie?

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