Red ribbon bows hang like harbingers from the lamp posts, holiday music blares through every speaker, and pine tree lots beckon early shoppers to select the perfect tree for their festivities. With these traditions also comes the glitzy, glamorous, and sometimes boozy soiree season filled with sequined party dresses, spiked eggnog, the annual company holiday party, and more than a few undergarment woes. Every year, lingerie professionals across the globe are tasked with finding the right solutions to holiday attire problems ranging from selecting the right shapewear to finding the perfect bra for a beautiful dress. All of us become the ultimate intimates fixers—whipping out accessories, miracle products, and double-sided tape to help you look your best and enjoy the party season without stress, and today I am sharing some of our secrets with our readers to give you a jump start in preparing for the season! (Click images to purchase.)
- Magic Tape: Double-sided tape is a go-to for us in the store, particularly for modern formal wear plagued by tricky necklines, awkward arm holes, and wide or low backs. Since the tape does not damage skin or clothing, you can apply as needed to ensure the outfit remains polished and in place while you dance and enjoy the party.
- Sticky Fingers: As the proud mother of three white dogs one of whom has wiry hair which bonds with fabric on a cellular level, I joke that dog hair is my ultimate accessory. Nevertheless, for those instances when you want to look perfect, Sticky Fingers easily removes unwanted hair, dust, and lint from all of your clothes. One package contains approximately 40 uses, meaning this product will be a staple long after the holidays are over.
- My Secret Emergency Kit: Perfect for keeping in the car, this kit contains multiple products for any wardrobe malfunction, including disposable nipple covers, double-sided tape, lint removers, and Wipe Out which lifts residue left by deodorant or dandruff.
The Low Back Saviors
Modern cocktail dresses and bridal attire often sport a tricky back, sometimes being low enough to expose the bra band and in other cases daringly dipping to derriere (gotta love alliteration) to expose . . . well almost everything. If the back of a dress or top is low enough, a traditional bra may not be possible so please consider your bra size before committing to the dress if you are not comfortable going braless. Sometimes, you can use Fashion Forms to give added support for an ultra-low dress, and while we do not carry them at the moment, we recommend this brand for its commitment to quality and for the higher size range.
For customers with dresses or tops which expose the bra but still offer ample coverage, we recommend the Braza Low Back Converter. The v-shaped design in the back allows you to customize the fit and lower the band of the bra by several inches. An elastic band wraps around the front underneath the underwire to stabilize the bra and provide added support. This inexpensive accessory can save you from purchasing specialty undergarments and eliminate the need for costly alterations. Because it works with any bra, including strapless models, you can pull from your existing bra wardrobe to save money, but keep in mind, lowering the band in the back can compromise support and fit in the front. However, given this is strictly for special occasion wear, it’s the simplest way to spend a few hours in a flirty outfit without breaking the bank!
Glamorous Hold-Up Stockings
Holiday party season is the perfect time to ditch conservative hosiery and snag something a little unique and fun. Instead of normal sheers or tights, consider a pair of hold-up stockings from Glamory or Kix’ies—both of whom I have raved about in the past. Kix’ies offers multiple patterns and textures up to a size D (X-Large), such as fishnets, diamond printed sheers, and a tight with small, interwoven sequins, all topped with an eye-catching striped band concealing silicone gel. If you prefer a sophisticated, vintage vibe, Glamory uses ornate floral stretch lace, sometimes in contrasting colors, for a comfortable fit and offers a range of deniers, allowing you to adapt to the cold. Opaque microfiber tights are lovely for chilly evenings, but the back-seam black sheers are a classic complement to any outfit. Glamory hold-ups are also available up to a 5X-Large.
Heavy Hold Shapewear
A wonderful “Made in America” company, Rago Shapewear has been creating some of the best quality shapewear pieces on the market for over 70 years and is our go-to brand for customers needing or wanting a body-modifying and reshaping piece. This ain’t Spanx. With flexible boning, heavier center panels for tummy control, and horizontal seaming designed to provide the ultimate cinching, Rago’s 721 and 821 waist shapers are perfect for anyone wanting to “suck it all in” (aka the phrase we hear most).
Of the two, the 821 provides superior hold and is a best-seller during prom and wedding seasons, but the basic, neutral color design lacks the flair and drama of the 721. Black fabric on the side and back of the 721 has a touch of sheen and pairs perfectly with the light pink stitching and accents. The center panel uses a floral lace overlay to conceal the tummy panel, and detachable metal garter straps allows the piece to double as a suspender belt.
Light Hold & Smoothing Shapewear
While waist cinchers provide an almost industrial level of hold and shaping, not all customers need or want to be constricted and instead prefer something lighter with an emphasis on smoothing like the Yummie by Heather Thompson Cleo and Cameo pieces. Designed with graduated control to provide added tummy hold before lessening down the hips, rear, and legs, the Yummie shapers use a soft, wearable fabric for comfort while silicone gel grippers at the top of the waist prevent rolling. These high waist designs can be tucked underneath the line of the bra to provide complete smoothing down the length of the torso and are wonderful for thinner fabrics like knits or jersey. The only difference between the two is the length. Cleo gives added smoothing on the thigh without biting into softer tissue while Cameo ends in a traditional brief. Every single one of our customers have been impressed with how much more comfortable these were than they anticipated, and the price is wallet-friendly too.
For Hold or For Fun
The iCollection corset collection encompasses a range of colors, prints, and aesthetic features, but each piece shares core design decisions like steel boning, reinforced fabrics, and fully-laced back. Most are under $65 and available up to size 48, making them versatile across sizes. Certain designs work best as a fashion piece, like the Halter Brocade Corset which functions as a lovely fashion topper to evening skirts and can be worn alone or layered underneath jackets or wraps. Others like the Reversible Corset or the Black Victorian corset can be a fashionable substitute to a strapless bra and waist cincher combo because the boning is study enough to support breast tissue while also pulling in the waist. Features like side or front zippers also make these pieces easy to put on and wear comfortably throughout the night!
Combating a Lower Neckline
Not everyone owns a bra store and never worries about cleavage like me, and our customers in conservative fields often lament the lowness of dress necklines as it may not be appropriate for their company holiday parties. Perfect Cami has released several options in the last couple seasons which have shiny sequins, unique textures, or elegant laces to perfectly compliment a holiday party dress while still covering skin. Because the designs attach to existing bras and wrap around the back, there is no need to worry about the piece moving while you dance, and most of the fun variations still transition to daily wear too.
Even with snow flakes already falling for some climates, the emphasis on strapless dresses and/or tricky necklines for cocktail parties remains prevalent, thus requiring the use of a convertible bra. Depending on size, I compiled a list of several worthwhile bras to consider with a brief description of each. For wedding season next year, I’ll be writing a more in-depth discussion of strapless bras. In the meantime:
- Wacoal Red Carpet Strapless: One of the best strapless bras on the market, the Wacoal Red Carpet strapless features a padded cradle, silicone gel running the length of the top and bottom of the bra, and multiple side stays per wing. No matter how much you move, this bra stays in place. Available up to a US H cup.
- Freya Deco Strapless: Despite fit issues like gaping near the top and sides of the cup, the Deco Strapless is sometimes the only option, particularly for higher cup sizes needing a smooth, molded cup strapless bra. Multiple places to reattach the straps offers flexibility for certain dress styles, and heavy use of silicone gel keeps the bra in place. Available up to a UK GG Cup.
- Elomi Smoothing Strapless: As with the Deco, fit issues can pop up here, but the generous cup and open top can make the difference with higher cup sizes wanting a strapless bra, and the plus-size friendly size range (available up to 46 bands) enables more people to wear it. Available up to a UK GG cup.
- Curvy Kate Luxe: Utilizing soft spacer fabric, flexible boning, and a liberal use of silicone gel, the Curvy Kate Luxe is a phenomenal entry in the strapless bra market. Lovely aesthetic details like a striped cradle and center bows prevent the bra from looking too plain, but the vertical seaming can sometimes be seen under thinner fabrics. Available up to a UK J cup.
- b.tempt’d Faithfully Yours: A lovely, inexpensive push-up option for smaller-busted women, the Faithfully Yours from Wacoal offers nice lift and shape in a smooth design. Available up to a US DD cup.
- Le Mystere Ultimate Plunge Strapless: New on the market, this front-close strapless from Le Mystere lets you customize the shape of the front, making it perfect for deep v-neck dresses. Available up to a US DDD cup.
Have a safe and happy season everyone!