Adhesive bras got their start, believe it or not, as 1940s bikini tops. Just two fashionably-pointed, ruffle-edged cups that were held in place via gummy edges. But as quickly as they caught on, they disappeared back into obscurity.
That was, until a few years back, when suddenly stick-on bras were everywhere. In 2019 especially, you couldn’t open Instagram without seeing one of the lace-up versions being worn by an influencer or advertised in a pretty flat-lay. So what is the big deal with adhesive bras, and more importantly, what are the best ones for your bust size?
First, what are sticky boobs?
Adhesive, ‘stick-on’ bras or ‘sticky boobs’ are usually made from silicone, at least on the inside – some have a fabric outer (maybe even lace!) to look more like regular lingerie. The silicone is coated with a special, body-safe adhesive where it’s going to touch the skin.
This adhesive is not designed to last forever, but provided you keep it clean, it will remain tacky for multiple uses. Stick-on bras often come with a ‘liner’ sheet, to cover the adhesive between wears and prevent dust and other dirt from sticking to it during storage.
When to wear an adhesive bra
A stick-on bra gives you free reign to wear practically any garment – they’re popular for good reason! Whereas a strapless bra really only lets you wear strapless or thin-strapped looks without bra straps showing, a stick-on bra is also backless and, very often, sideless. They essentially just cover your boobs, and nothing else.
Why not just go braless, you ask? Well, a stick-on bra provides nipple coverage in sheerer fabrics, lifts your breasts, and certain styles can even create killer cleavage. So you get many of the benefits of wearing a bra, while looking like you’ve gone bra-free. We call it going faux-naturel!
Stick-on bras work great any time you have a tricky neckline to work with, but they’re especially popular for the following outfits and occasions:
Since adhesive bras have no band, they’ll stay invisible whether you’re wearing something with an open slit down the back, or something entirely backless.
Many stick-on bras are also sideless, meaning they work great below low, scooped armholes and revealing halter-necks.
Not all adhesive bras are ideal for plunge necklines. But the two styles that will be suitable here are ones with entirely-separated cups, and ones where the cups are joined by a panel resembling the front of a longline bra band, but with a low ‘U’ shape cut away in the center.
It’s well-known that finding a bra to go with your wedding dress can be very tricky. Whether your gown is strapless, backless, sideless, plunging, or all four, an adhesive bra will do the trick! The same goes for prom dresses and any other fancy evening dresses, too.
It’s important to note that most adhesive bras are not intended to be waterproof, and that sweating or a dip in a heated pool will definitely make them lose their stick. However, if you just want to look your best at the poolside, a stick-on bra can give you a little extra boost under your bikini or swimsuit.
Will an adhesive bra work if I have large boobs?
Think stick-on bras are only for the petite-chested? Not true! In fact, the stick-on bras designed to create cleavage are often more effective at doing this on large busts, because they’re easier to draw together than smaller breasts.
However, there are also stick-on bra styles that work better on smaller busts than they do on large ones. Most adhesive bras are only designed with invisibility in mind, and are not intended to offer support. Without a band or straps, they probably won’t offer the lift a large-chested person is used to getting from a regular bra.
Below, we explain the best adhesive bra types for small and large busts alike.
The best adhesive bra styles for small busts
The simplest style of adhesive bra, these have two cups that are not joined together in any way. They’re essentially just like silicone nipple covers, but extra large. This stick-on bra style offers the lowest amount of support, so it’s best suited to small and self-supporting breasts.
This adhesive bra style is similar to the one above, but after apply each cup separately, you clip them together in the center to draw the breasts inwards and create cleavage. Again, there’s no lift or support being provided here, so it’s best for smaller chests.
The Insta-famous stick-on bra style! This one has two cups joined by lacing (or occasionally a drawstring pull), which you tighten to create an adjustable level of cleavage. Once again, it doesn’t pull the breasts upwards, just inwards, so it’s generally best for smaller bust sizes.
The best adhesive bra styles for large busts
Cups with wings
Many adhesive bras have short side panels, which stick to the ribcage either side of the bust. These act like a sort of bra band, which is the most supportive part of a regular bra. These side panels boost the support by allowing the adhesive bra to stay somewhat lifted up. (Just remember to lift your breasts upwards before you stick the side panels in place!) Hence, adhesive bras with wings can be a good choice for large-chested people looking for a more supportive option.
Cups with bunny ears
Also sometimes referred to as ‘petals’, the ‘bunny ears’ are sticky panels that in this case go upwards, rather than around to the side. The purpose is clear – to lift the breasts upwards. You apply the cups as usual, then pull the panel upwards and stick it into place on the décolletage. Another ideal choice to lift and support heavier breasts.
Ultra-plunge / cups with ‘half bands’
Designed to wear with very low necklines, this adhesive bra style looks like the front half of a longline bra. The cups are joined by a tall band, which has adhesive wings at either side. At the center of this band, between the cups, is a deep ‘U’ shape, so that the bra stays hidden under plunging necklines.
As before, the adhesive wings help to hold things in place higher up the torso, while the addition of a band at the front helps to lift/push the breasts up from below. This is a great style for busts of any size, but especially good for large breasts because it offers the most support of any adhesive bra type.
Clip-together and lace-up cups
We put both of these adhesive bra styles in the ‘best for small busts’ list, because neither of them offer any lift. However, what they do offer is cleavage, and they’re especially good at creating it on large breasts that can be easily squished together. So if cleavage is your only goal, give these styles a go!
How to apply an adhesive bra
Once you’ve picked out your perfect stick-on bra style, here’s how to apply it so that it looks great and stays put until you’re ready for it to come off:
- Clean the skin on and around your breasts with a mild soap, then dry thoroughly with a towel. Sweat, body oils, and products such as lotion and perfume can all affect the sticking power of the adhesive.
- Peel the backing off of the cups of your adhesive bra. Don’t throw it away! You’ll want to reapply it once you take the bra off, to maximize its lifespan.
- Unclip clip-together cups, or loosen the lacing on lace-up cups all the way. Apply these types of cups one at a time, and clip/cinch them back together as the last step in the process.
- For all adhesive bra styles except the ‘half band’ ones, apply the cups to your breasts and smooth them outwards from the nipple to get rid of any air bubbles. If your bra has adhesive panels, peel the backing off, lift your breasts into position, and smooth the panels into place.
- For ‘half band’ bras, lift your breasts up and place the band so that it sits in the fold below your breasts. Stick the wings in place to keep the band in position here, then place your breasts into the cups. Applying the bra this way rather than cups-first-band-second ensures maximum lift.
How to remove and store an adhesive bra
- To take your adhesive bra off, simply peel the sticky parts slowly from the skin. If you’re having trouble, take a soak in a warm bath to loosen the adhesive.
- Once the bra is removed, you should wash the adhesive sections with mild soap and warm water. This is essential to maintaining/renewing the bra’s stickiness. Allow the bra to air dry – don’t try to use a towel or you’ll get little bits of towel fluff stuck to it! And don’t leave it near to a radiator or the silicone may melt.
- Reapply the backing that came with the bra before storing it, to keep the adhesive parts free of dust so that it’s ready to apply and go whenever you next want to wear it.
- Not convinced by adhesive bras? They’re not for everyone. You can get the same ‘invisible’ effect, often with added lift, by using boob tape – which works on any bust size!