The Ultimate Guide to Pairing Your Trickiest Bras and Tops

From plunging necklines to backless tops — here's every bra you need in your arsenal.

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The Ultimate Guide to Pairing Your Bra With Your Top

Stocksy/ InStyle

The trials and tribulations of getting dressed are never-ending. First, you must figure out what to wear — every single day — but then you have to work out your undergarments, too, and piecing together an ensemble is a cakewalk compared to working out what bras to pair with every top in your wardrobe. 

You know how different types of underwear serve different purposes? Well, the same can be said for the many styles of bras in your collection. Most of us were taught to shop for bras that are functional (re: supportive and comfortable) first, and fashionable second, but each design caters to a specific aesthetic. It’s just not always obvious what that aesthetic is. 

While it can take some trial and error before you instinctively know what works and what doesn’t, the truth of the matter is, bras can make or break an outfit, so it’s worth learning the best bra-to-top pairings to seamlessly execute your vision. Ahead, stylists break down the best bras to go with every kind of top, from casual t-shirts to the trendy sheer pieces hanging in your closet.


Stylist and fashion writer, Samantha Sutton tells InStyle that having a smooth base is key when putting together a t-shirt outfit so your top can lay smoothly. So skip bras with lots of padding or zfrills (think lace and ruffles), Sutton says, especially if said t-shirt is tight, as practically any detail could be detected through the material of your shirt.

Tank Tops

If your outfit of the day includes a spaghetti strap tank top, stylist and founder of A Style Set, Erin Eagle recommends choosing a straight-across wireless, strapless bra that “fits well enough to stay in place for a smooth, invisible fit.”

Tube Tops

Some tube tops are tight enough that you don’t have to wear a bra, but if you’d feel more comfortable with a little extra support, Young suggests reaching for a bandeau-style strapless bra. “[This style of bra will] give your chest a little support, provide a smooth surface, and will also provide a little extra grip for your tube top to stay up.”

Tight Tops

For tight tops that fit like a second skin, skip the bulky bras. “You don’t necessarily want a whole bra to show from underneath,” says Abby Young, a fashion stylist and the CEO of Abby Young Styling.  To keep your style looking seamless, try adhesive nipple covers or a backless bra, Young says.

Backless Tops

For backless designs, Sutton says you can’t go wrong with a classic sticky bra. “Even if you have a bigger bust, many [sticky bras] come in a variety of cup sizes and you’d be pleasantly surprised at how much support they can offer,” Sutton tells InStyle. But if you still require additional security, top stylists and celebrities swear by a little boob tape to go a long way. 

 Plunging Necklines

If your going-out outfit includes a plunging neckline, Young suggests opting for adhesive nipple covers or a plunge bra, depending on how much support your bust requires.

Racerbacks, Halter Tops, and One-Shoulder Tops

If versatility is what you desire, Eagle suggests a convertible bra that can work with raceberback tops, halter tops, and even one-shoulder tops. A convertible bra can be worn with or without both straps and can be maneuvered in a myriad of ways — making it a do-it-all option and must-have.

Sheer Tops

Sheer tops are a top fashion trend for 2023, and if you’re looking for the right bra to pair with your sheer top, there’s no need to be subtle. 

“There’s a time and place to show off your bra, and a look with a sheer top is definitely the right occasion,” Young says. “Be [selective] with the color of your bra, though.” She suggests pulling a shade that matches a multi-colored bottom, or to have your bra be the only pop of color in a monochromatic cream outfit — think jewel tones, like emerald, dark blue, or burgundy.”

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