Racerback bras are a must-have for the summer months. When it’s hot and sticky outside and you want to throw on an easy summer dress, the last thing you want is the eyesore of having your bra straps peek out from under your clothing.
While our smaller-breasted sisters might be able to get away with built-in shelf bras or even going braless, most of us D+ ladies will need a little more substantial support.
Apart from wearing a bra and just letting the straps show, we have a few options at our disposal when we need discreet support. We could go strapless, wear a multiway with clear straps, and of course, we can opt for racerback bras for large breasts.
Racerback styles are a great pick for larger busts because they provide strap support with center pull that can enhance cleavage and keep your breasts lifted. They are also a great option for women who have issues with slipping bra straps. Because the straps come close together on the back, they work well under sleeveless dresses and shirts.
For a long time, the racerback design was confined to sports bras, but we have seen them over time creep into bras designed for daily wear, which is a good thing.
When you look for a racerback style, you’re generally going to come across two main options. A bra that has been designed as a racerback, or a ‘regular’ bra with vertical straps that can be attached using a J-hook. The latter are often called convertible bras.
Today’s list will look at both types of bras. I’ve decided to focus moreso on purpose-built racerbacks though, because I think this is a category of bras women know less about. The Wacoal brands such as Freya, Goddess and Elomi, to name a few, all regularly produce convertible bras, so it’s relatively easy to find one that works. Purpose-built racerback bras for large breasts are still a bit harder to find.
Does your J-hook hurt?
When we buy a bra with a J-hook, most of us will just try it on with the straps as is, without bothering to check for fit in the J-hook. In the future, if you are buying a convertible bra, it’s worth it to take a few extra minutes in the changeroom to try it in both configurations.
If you’ve already got a convertible bra and it’s not quite working for you as a J-hook, here are a few things you can try:
- Loosen the straps
- Adjust the band of the bra
- Adjust your breasts in the bra
- Try moving the J-hook to different positions on your back
Wirefree option – Leading Lady Women’s Plus-Size Crossover Front Racer Back Leisure Bra
Leading Lady’s Racer Back Leisure Bra comes in limited cup sizing, but I thought it worth listing because it’s a wirefree option with a unique front closure. This bra actually has six fit settings, which is virtually unheard of on a front-opening bra. This bra is listed as a leisure bra, which is generally code for little to no uplift, so probably not something you’d want to wear under a flirty dress, although it might suit as a casual option under a tank top.
Simply Wire Free Lightly Lined Racerback T-Shirt Bra
If you want a wirefree option with more support that you can comfortably wear out of the house, Lane Bryant’s lightly lined t-shirt bra might be it for you.
In place of an underwire, it uses gel lining in the underbust part of the cup to create shape and lift. This feature makes it comfortably for those who hate wire and also gives a bit of oomph that will probably most benefit women with loose tissue/full on bottom.
It’s got beautiful lace sewn between the two straps that make this bra one that you might just want to showcase. The back band is nice and wide. On the upside, the band of the bra is done in such a way that it would look nice if it were visible under sheer fabric. On the downside, it’s not a leotard back, and doesn’t do as much smoothing as I wish it could.
Option in bigger bands – Leading Lady’s Front Closure Racer Back Underwire Bra
Leading Lady’s Front Closure Racerback has all sorts of goodies, from a solid leotard back, to side smoothing, and even padded straps. It also comes in some very fun colors. Accommodating a band size of up to 48, this is one of the better bras I came across for supporting plus size women, especially those needing smaller cup sizes.
The cups run large, and given their shape, might best suit someone with even fullness and wide roots.
Glamorise Women’s Full Figure Front Close Lace T-Back Wonderwire Bra
For a more fashionable option in a similar cut, I’d check out Glamorise’s T-back offering. It features some really pretty lace on the top half of the cup that will keep fuller women from jiggling up top. The stretch lace means that this bra will likely be a little more forgiving if you’re not full on top, making it a more versatile bra overall.
The back of the bra is cut wide to ensure smoothing, and has a nice design in the center of the back, should you wish to let this bra show under your clothing.
A back closing option – Paramour Women’s Plus Size Carolina Seamless Plunge
Most of the purpose-built racerback bras I’ve come across have all been front-closing, which can pose some style and fit issues, including a lack of uplift.
Paramour’s bra sets itself apart with a racerback style that still uses a back-closing band. The result is that you end up with a bra that provides some nice shaping and lift, as you would expect from a plunge bra.
The use of the lace sewn in the back of the bra helps to make the bra look more decorative. While the bra straps can definitely be hidden under skimpily-cut tops, the lace makes it stylish enough that you could artfully layer it under a top and let the straps show!
Now for the downside: this bra is probably going to be tricky to wear, and will involve you having to clasp it from behind. Not for the dextrously-challenged. As with most moulded cups, if you aren’t full on top, you may experience some degree of gapping.
If you’re into this style and looking for another option, consider Passionata by Chantelle’s Starlight Plunge bra.
An FOB option – Wacoal Women’s Front Close T-Back Bra
Here’s the bra on the list that I most wish came in my size. Wacoal has put out a front-closing, smooth cup bra T-Back bra that can suit full on bottom shapes, but it stops at a DD.
One of the issues with purpose-built T-back bras is the fact that the straps come too close to the neck in the front. Instead of having a bra whose straps peek out under clothing because they are too wide, you end up with straps peeking out because they’re too narrow. The spacing of the straps on the Front Close T-Back bra are a happy medium that would work under a variety of styles.
Splurge – CHANTELLE RIVE GAUCHE T-BACK BRA
I love Chantelle’s Rive Gauche bra. With a French bra, you know you’re going to get great craftsmanship and attention to detail, and this spacer t-back bra is no exception. It features molded cups that will keep the headlights hidden, and a beautiful lace detailing along the entire band of the bra. I know this list was meant to be for people looking to hide their bras, but perhaps the T-Back Rive Gauche is one that ought to be flaunted.
Sculptresse by Panache Women’s Plus Size Sasha Molded Plunge T-Shirt Bra
24-46, D-H (UK)
Panache’s Sasha Molded Plunge T-Shirt Bra is another molded cup that I’d consider adding to my trusted shortlist of molded cup bras for full on bottom breasts. Featuring a full-coverage cup with a lace gore and band, this bra has a delicate look, despite the amount of coverage it provides. While it doesn’t provide as much cleavage as a cut and sew plunge would without the racerback, it is a comfortable option that sufficiently perks up the ladies once you use that J-hook.
Molded cup plunge option – Freya Women’s Deco Vibe Underwire Molded Plunge Bra With J-hook
No J-Hook bra list would be complete without the Freya Deco Plunge bra.
This is one of the few molded cup bras that I trust with my boobs. The cups create a beautiful shape, and even on me, they gap less than I’d expect with this sort of cup. While it supports me well in the normal configuration, the J-hook takes my boobs to another level (literally) when I put it on. I’ve already written an ode to the Freya Women’s Deco, so I’m not going to repeat myself. If you are after a J-hook plunge though, take a chance on the Deco. It’s great in everyday situations and works well as an alternative to a t-shirt bra if you’re full on the bottom.
Cut and sew cup plunge option – Elomi Women’s Plus Size Matilda Underwire Plunge Bra
I cannot sing my praises about this bra nearly enough. I’ve reviewed it in full, and this bra remains one of my go-to bras that I wear multiple times a week. It’s got great cup separation and uplift for big breasts, and the shape is relatively round/smooth considering that it is a cut and sew bra. Personally, I get enough shaping from wearing the straps vertically. Every once in a while though, when the outfit requires, I wear it as a J-hook and it works well for me.
Molded Cup wide underwire option – Elomi Women’s Bijou Underwire Banded Moulded Bra
If anything, the Bijou bra is in many ways Elomi’s version of the Deco. It’s got a supportive, molded shape that lends itself well to different stylings. The Bijou might be a good starting point for someone who likes the shape and overall look of the Freya Deco, but prefers a wider band and wider underwire.
Push Up Option- Curvy Couture Women’s Plus Size Tulip Smooth Push up Bra
I admit I may have snuck this one in here, because technically it’s not a racerback. Curvy Couture’s Tulip line does wonders for big boobs, with graduated padding inside the cups to make your breasts look full and lifted. I’ve written about the cut and sew version of the tulip bra before, and was delighted to see that it came in a racerback version as well. There just aren’t many manufacturers out there making push-up bras with wide underwires in an H-cup, so the Tulip series remains one of my favorite picks.