What You Should Be Wearing Under All Your Party Dresses

Most people may equate January with self-imposed Netflix hibernation, but let's be real: We all have events to attend. Whether it's a winter wedding, a fancy dinner, or a BFF's birthday bash, why not pull out all the stops (especially when 90% of your month is likely spent wearing turtlenecks and boots). But before you whip out all your glittery, body-con, high-slit, low-backed pieces (hey, who doesn't love dressing up every now and then?), you might want to go bra shopping, first.

"I advise women to go shopping for underwear before they buy clothes," Lori Kaplan of New York City's BraTenders told Refinery29. "That way, they see what's available in their size. Then, they know what they can wear on top." A good bra, as we've written about, can change everything from your posture to the way a certain article of clothing sits on you.

Good bras are also pretty basic — straps that hold up your cups and a band that supports you. "Your bra should be in the same place as it is in the front, parallel to the floor,"Kaplan warns. "The underwire is snug under your armpits, the bridge of the bra flush against your sternum. There should be nothing bulging or spilling."

To avoid that bulging and spilling, however, bras require some sort of strap or support. So what do you do if you want to pull off a look like Kendall Jenner's birthday dress? How do you quell any concerns about nip slips? Ahead, Kaplan, as well as Iris Clarke of wedding boutique Iris Lingerie, are here to help us figure out exactly what to wear under all of our fancy dresses.
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Photo: Matt Baron/BEI/Shutterstock.
The Off-The-Shoulder

The summery trend has made its way into fall and winter dressing, which means we'll probably be seeing this neckline everywhere come New Year's Eve. Luckily, the proper undergarments are actually pretty straightforward — if you get the right fit.
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According to Kaplan, the key to looking and feeling great in an off-the-shoulder dress is a good strapless bra. "It should fit well," Kaplan says. "The back should be in line with the front, and the front should be snug around the rib cage."

If it's the right size, Kaplan says it should stay in place all night — without you having to pull up your bra every five seconds.

Ongossamer
Mesh Push-up Strapless Bra, $44, available at Journelle.
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Luckily, brands have become progressively more size-inclusive, which amounts to strapless bras in larger sizes that still provide support.

"They finally came up with a J-cup strapless bras," says Iris Clarke of Brooklyn's Iris Lingerie, "which is important, because strapless bras don't fit the same way as regular bras. You want the bra to hold you."

Curvy Kate Luxe Biscotti Strapless Bra, $75, available at Bare Necessities.
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Photo: Matt Baron/BEI/Shutterstock.
The Cher Horowitz "Show A Little Skin" Dress

Spaghetti straps and a low back might be subtly sexy, but they're also a pain in the ass when it comes to finding the right undergarments.

"The straps and the band of the bra are what supply the structure and support," Kaplan says. "If you take both those things away, well, gravity is still the strongest force in the universe." Luckily, with a moderately low back, you can still find some supporting options...
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For a strapless, yet supported, bra, bustiers might be your best bet, as the boning provides more support while allowing the back to go lower. "It won't go all the way down to the butt, but it's a very low back," Clarke says.

Le Mystere Soiree Bustier, $79, available at Le Mystere.
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If you can wear straps with your dress, but have a plunging back line, you could buy an adjustable strap that lowers your bra line. Careful, though — this could also make the front of your bra ride up and "sometimes, the elastic cuts in," Kaplan says.

Fashion Forms Adjustable Low Back Bra Strap, $9, available at Macy's.
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Photo: Matt Baron/BEI/Shutterstock.
The Even Lower-Backed Dress

If you're showing off everything from your neck to the small of your back, it's likely that you won't be able to wear much shapewear — or you could go braless. But if you prefer some sort of support, you're going to have to stick to, well, stickies.
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Your first option? Constructing a bra out of tape. "Sometimes, women will wear two on each side for a little extra lift," Kaplan says. The only problem with this? Limited sizing — these adhesive bras usually only go up to a DD.

Fashion Forms Women's Ultimate Boost Adhesive Bra, $14.99, available at Target.
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Then, there's the adhesive option, which is basically a bra that you stick on. This particular option goes up to a DDD.

Fashion Forms
Go Bare Self-adhesive Backless Strapless Bra, $35, available at Net-A-Porter.
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Photo: Debby Wong/REX/Shutterstock.
The Deep V

The opposite of the low-back plunge, the deep V dress shows off your décolletage — and requires much more than a push-up bra to pull off.
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Luckily, bras have been created specifically to work with deep-V necklines. Case in point? The U-plunge bra, with seamless finishes and a deep neckline to hide under that dress.

Nordstrom Lingerie Convertible Plunge Bra, $28, available at Nordstrom.
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Photo: Matt Baron/BEI/Shutterstock.
High Slits

You could wear pantyhose under that high slit dress for some warmth this season, as Clarke recommends. But if you prefer to show your skin...
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You'll have to wear a thong. If it's a particularly unforgiving fabric, there are control thongs you could wear with a high slit, Kaplan says.

Spanx Undie-tectable Lac Thong, $24, available at Spanx.
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Alternatively, a G-string can be nicely concealed. "You could hike the straps up to above the hips so you wouldn’t see a line," Kaplan says.

Cosabella
Never Say Never Skimpie G-string, $22, available at Cosabella.
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Photo: David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock.
An Even-Higher Slit

Of course, none of that would work if your slit was cut to the waist for an extra leg-lengthening effect. This means securing a few key folds with fashion tape (for fear of a random gust of wind) and another form of adhesive...
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When you need a truly strapless panty, you could opt for a stick-on thong. "When we see models wearing dresses that's cut down to the butt crack, they're not wearing underwear," Kaplan says. But a stick-on thong? Potentially. One caveat: "You'll need to have a Brazilian [wax] while wearing it, or it would be murder to take off," Kaplan says.

Nasswalk Hush Strapless Adhesive Panties, $16.40, available at Amazon.
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Photo: Broadimage/REX/Shutterstock.
The Body-Con

The body-con dress is a classically chic, put-together dress — but it could also be potentially uncomfortable. The fabric could bunch at all the wrong places, cling to your skin when it's hot, and otherwise be a little bit too close for comfort.
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Enter: your mother's favorite slip. "Some dresses will cling, so that's when slips are good for you," Clarke says.

With tight dresses, however, seamless is key. If you're worried about lumps, side boob, or underwear lines, this might be exactly what you need.

Commando Two-Faced Tech Full Slip, $98, available at Commando.
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Of course, you could also just go for a seamless bra and some laser-cut underwear. "A lot of underwear now is laser-cut, so there’s no elastic and it lays totally flat against the body," Kaplan says. "Most of them are hipster style."

With buying underwear, however, you need to have the right fit — lest you end up with visible panty lines when you don't want them. "Bikinis come up well under the belly button, so if there's a roll there that's not the right shape for you," Kaplan says. "You want something that is high-waisted."

If your underwear is bunching up or riding up, on the other hand, Kaplan suggests finding a size down, or opting for a stretchier fit that grips under your butt. "Full coverage would not be good for someone with a problem that something rides up," Kaplan says, "But I would say bikini or thong."

Third Love Seamless Cheeky, $16, available at Third Love.
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Photo: Chelsea Lauren/REX/Shutterstock.
Mermaid Dresses

Even tighter than a body-con dress, these gowns won't work with a slip, but might require some smoothing of your legs.
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This means opting for shapewear that goes down to your knees, which is great if you've got a tight skirt with just a hint of sheerness.

Leonisa Invisible Rear Lift Shaper Short, $30, avaialble at Leonisa.
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Photo: Simone Comi/IPA/REX/Shutterstock.
The Sheer Dress: Beginner Level

We're definitely expecting the naked dress to continue its red carpet reign next year, but if the bedazzled body-con option isn't your speed, a sheer frock in black is easily pulled off with any basic layering piece underneath.
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A slip or a half-slip can do the trick: "It's the old-school way," Clarke says. "I always wear a half-slip with my linen dress in the summer."

Calvin Klein Half Slip, $27, available at Nordstrom.
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For the more daring, a high-waisted brief lets a bit more show when you're decked out in a patterned, black-lace gown.

Hanro Vittoria High-Cut Bikini Briefs in Black, $40, available at Neiman Marcus.
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Photo: Chelsea Lauren/REX/Shutterstock.
The Sheer Dress: Intermediate Level

If you're going for an all-nude-underneath look, the first step is to find underwear that actually matches your skin tone.
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Luckily, Nubian Skin has a great variety of shades of "nude" — and super-smooth seams for a flawless finish. You could also go for shapewear or a sewn-in lining with material specifically chosen to match your skin tone.

Nubian Skin The Brief in Berry, available at Nubian Skin.
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Of course, no one would blame you for wearing a chic bodysuit under a sheer dress, either. With it, you get the coverage of a bathing suit, but the structure of something Beyoncé would wear on-stage.

TC Fine Intimates
Strapless Back Magic Bodybriefer, $89, available at Bloomingdale's.
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Photo: Matt Baron/BEI/Shutterstock.
The Sheer Dress: Advanced

If the design of the dress demands that you look pretty much nude underneath, it might be time to take out the stickies again. This does not mean tape, however.

"I would not advise using duct tape, since it's very rough on the skin," Kaplan says. "I do know Kim Kardashian did this whole thing with gaffer's tape, but that’s a lot of tape and a lot of pain taking it off."
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"If you can get away with fashion tape, that would be good," Clarke says. And yes, fashion tape and nipple covers do exist. However, this might not fly for larger cup sizes. "It takes more than a Band-Aid to hold up F and G cups," Kaplan says. You may have to go the route of sewing something into your dress if you can, or finding something custom-made.

Commando Top Hats Nipple Concealers, $36, available at Shopbop.
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As for underwear? You could opt for the stick-on thong, but a sheer mesh version with clear straps could also work — an option typically reserved for theater necessities.

Viki Thong by Bra* Tenders, available at BraTenders.
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Photo: Jim Smeal/BEI/Shutterstock.
The Draped, Micro-mini Dress

You know this dress — it's the one both Paris Hilton and Kendall Jenner wore on their birthdays — and it pretty much necessitates that undergarments are small, discreet, and never visible. So get your stick-on thong and...
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...your Reveal Bra. "Reveal is good for things that are plunge-y in the front and have no back," Kaplan says. "They stick on around the nipple and pull the breasts up, but they only work for average-sized breasts, not for heavy breasts."

Don't even want that? Fashion tape to cover up your nipples might do the job sufficiently.

Braza Bra Reveal Bra, $10, available at Target.
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