For many people, summer means hot weather and skimpier clothing. Whether that means loose, flowy dresses, sleeveless or spaghetti strap tops, or opting for a bralette to make sure you don as few layers as possible, we are always finding ways to keep as cool as possible.
One of the items of clothing that comes out of the closet around this time of year is the bandeau bra or bandeau shirt.
What is a bandeau bra?
A bandeau bra or shirt is an item of clothing that is made of a strip of stretchy material sewn in the shape of a band that is worn around your chest. Generally, bandeau bras and shirts do not have any straps. They’re typically made with stretchy, form-fitting material that works to keep the bandeau in place.
A bandeau bra differs from a strapless bra in a couple of ways. One, there is generally no cup definition in a bandeau. Often times, the breasts are supported by a built-in shelf bra. Two, a bandeau bra visually looks more like a tube top than a bra, with a horizontal seam on the top and the bottom of the bra.
The Plus size bandeau bra
For a long time, bandeaus were squarely in the realm of clothing not meant for anyone over a size 8 or 10. Over the years though, the trend toward body positivity and acceptance have paved the way for people to be more open to seeing plus size women showing skin. I think this is such a positive thing.
I remember the first time my mother took me to a 14+ size store. As a teenager it was kind of terrible experience. The clothes were ‘old’. (For the Canadians reading this, think Pennington’s in the late 90s) There weren’t any fun or interesting prints, they were cut really large, and the mantra seemed to be ‘cover it up, don’t accentuate it’.
Just like the bra industry, the clothing industry has accepted the fact that people who wear bigger sizes still want to be fashionable. It’s awesome now to see brands like Ashley Stewart and Lane Bryant and Torrid carry plus size clothing that isn’t dowdy and that celebrates the female form.
Purely because of the way these bras are made, there’s not going to be a whole lot of support from this sort of garment. Most bandeaus are going to have shelf bras, as opposed to underwired cups. They are also usually made of a stretchy material, have no adjustability and no straps. That pretty much nixes all the support elements you’d look for in a bra.
Today’s roundup is a list of 12 plus size bandeau bras and tops that’ll be at home in any summer wardrobe.
So why wear a bandeau bra?
Bandeaus kind of occupy the same space as bralettes. They are an easy-to-wear garment that you can put on when you want support, but you also want a relaxed fit. They can work well under a sheer layer of clothing, or a strapless shirt of dress.
Some bandeau bras, on the other hand, are meant to be worn as outerwear. They can be worn as a top over a pants or a shirt, under a jacket, or under loose clothing with big arm or neck holes.
I want the bandeau look but I need support!
You can probably get away with just a bandeau bra up to a D/E cup, especially if your breasts are self-supporting. If you need more support though, consider the combination of a bandeau shirt/tube top with a strapless bra on underneath.
Ahh By Rhonda Shear Women’s Angel Seamless Underwire Bandeau Bra
The Angel seamless bra is designed to be worn underneath clothing, as it has got supporting built-in underwire. Unfortunately it’s not cup-sized, so it’s pretty much hit or miss as to whether it’s going to fit your breasts. This bra is available in sizes XS-2X and they also offer an option that ships with removable nipple pads as well.
Although the Angel seamless bra is probably worn best under a spaghetti strap dress or tank top, you could probably get away with wearing one of the darker colors under a shirt with big cutouts or a sheer shirt that would mask the appearance of the underwire.
Lucy Clothing – Nikibiki Bandeau
This bandeau is of a tube top than anything else. It’s meant to be worn in conjunction with a strapless bra and under your outerwear. It’s not going to help you reduce layers in the summer heat, but it can work in situations where you’ve got sheer clothing and prefer not to have your underpinnings showing.
Glamorise Strapless Leisure Bra
The Glamorise strapless plus size bandeau bra is cup and band sized, which I appreciate. It goes up to a band size 48, and accommodates B-D cups. It also has a hook & eye closure in the back, which is not a usual feature in a bandeau bra. Glamorise’s bandeau bra runs small though, so you may want to consider sizing up one or two bands, as it fits differently than other Glamorise bras. The bandeau could definitely work under casual tops, but should certainly not be used in place of a strapless bra, as it just doesn’t provide much support.
Another option similar to the Glamorise bra that could also work is Carole Martin Strapless Comfort Wireless Bra.
The Tube Top Company’s Zen Curvy Girl Bra
While putting this list together, I stumbled across the Tube Top Company who, as their name denotes, makes all sorts of tube-top type garments, including plus size bandeau bras.
This bra is only produced in one size, from 22-42, and has a padded bra insert, for those who need a modesty option. This is meant to be worn as a standalone bra, although your results are going to vary depending on the how self-supporting your breasts are naturally.
Fishnet & Ribbon Unlined Scoop Bandeau Bra
I talked a fair bit about bralette-ish bras in my round-up of bralette bras I put together recently. In the same vein, this is a bandeau-ish bra. It’s got underwire, straps, and an adjustable back. So how is a bandeau? It’s got a lace overlay above the cups that creates a nearly tube-like shape. If you’re looking for something a little more supportive and don’t mind straps, this one could work.
Bandeau Strapless Bra
Here’s a more traditional bandeau bra offering by Lane Bryant. Seamless, the bra does contain underwire for separation, although you should not expect the type of separation you will find in a typical strapless bra. It’s got rubberized strips on the top and bottom of the bra to hold things in place. Be warned though, while this bandeau is one of the more supportive ones on the list, a lot of its holding power comes from a very taut fit, which can make the bra a little tricky to put on.
Black Swirl Lace Bandeau Bralette
Just when we were finally managing to figure out where a bandeau ends and a bralette begins, Torrid combines the two with a lace bandeau bralette. Whatever its classification though, this bandeau has a lacy finish, meaning it can work well under sheer clothing.
I’ve also seen these sorts of bralettes worn under a dress with a very low neck in order to conceal cleavage. Torrid is honest about the support level this garment provides, and advises wearers to pair it with a bra in order to get a lifted look.
Wacoal Women’s Halo Strapless Bra
With the biggest band size offered being a 38, this bra barely qualifies as plus size. I included it on here anyway, because it is another solid offering from Wacoal. If you want smoother lines and less cup definition than you’d get in a standard strapless bra, the Halo strapless could work. It’s probably best worn under a shirt in with thin or sheer fabric.
If you’re looking for something in this style but with a smooth, non-lace finish, consider Lilyette by Bali Women’s #939 Tailored Minimizer Bra .
Curvy Sense Plus Size Seamless Bandeau Bra
Padded for some coverage, Curvy Sense Plus Size Seamless Bandeau Bra comes in some cute colors and is long enough that you could probably get away with wearing it as a top on its own over a high-waisted skirt or pant. For the more modest among us, this would also work great as a cover-up to hide your bra under sheer clothing.
Dinamit Jeans Women’s Plus Size Seamless Padded Bandeau Tube Top Bra
For a more inclusive size range and a similar fit, check out Dinamit Jeans Bandeau Tube Top Bra. It goes up to a 7x and is available in a wide range of colors.