Wide Set & Center Pull Straps
Bra straps placed closer to your shoulders are called wide set straps. Demi and balconette bra styles usually have this strap design. Their wide positioning provides a very attractive open neckline.
Wide set straps get unfair claims of always falling off shoulders. This is not true unless you have considerable sloping or narrow shoulders. Strap slippage is more about being in a band size too big. My image below shows the same bra, but in two different band sizes on the same mannequin. Note the larger band’s strap placement further out on the shoulders. If this is a consistent problem for you, try going down a band size and up a cup size and see if your strap slipping problem goes away – see my video to learn more.
Clever bra designers have also figured out that wide set straps stay put better with a “kicked-in” back strap placement. This allows most women, regardless of their shoulder type, to wear wide set straps without worrying about straps slipping off shoulders.
Center Pull Straps
If you do not want your straps to show under sleeveless tops, wear a bra designed with center pull straps. Positioned more directly above your breast apex, center pull straps give the best breast uplift and pretty much ensure your straps won’t slip. The characteristics of a bra with center pull straps include a more triangular cup shape and greater upper breast coverage (see earlier image).
Fully Adjustable, Partially Adjustable & Non-Adjustable Straps
If you are tall or short, long waisted or short waisted, you are probably more tuned in to checking out a bra’s strap adjustability. A bra designer must make some assumptions in their designing. Traditionally, they select strap lengths based on someone who is around 5’3” to 5’9” tall. Strap length is also a bit tricky due to the math – a strap with 10″ worth of adjustability will only give the wearer up to 5″ of adjustability due to the doubling of the strap as it adjusts.
Fully Adjustable Straps
Straps that can adjust from the base of the bra back all the way to the top of the cup in front are fully adjustable straps. Anyone tall or short should look for these because they have the most adjustability to work with. The bras with absolutely the longest strap adjustability will be fully adjustable straps that are also convertible, meaning capable of disassembling from the back or front of the bra and made long enough to allow crisscrossing.
Partially Adjustable Straps
More and more, bras are now ascending their lace and details up the front of their bra straps and this makes the straps partially adjustable – only the back half of the strap can be adjusted. These bras are beautiful, but can be problematic for women who do not fall within the height range determined in their design.
Bra designers also like to vary the shape of their bra straps. For example, start them wide and then taper down in the back, or flare out wider along the top of the shoulder. These are just a few reasons a strap would become partially adjustable.
The popularity of comfort bras that include wide straps or simple designs without back closures or strap hardware are examples of non-adjustable straps. Wide straps simply do not adjust well due to their added bulk. And, again, this lack of adjustability means women of outlier heights will possibly have fit issues.
Bras with racerback styling and bras with interesting back designs primarily have non-adjustable straps.
Elastic, Restricted Stretch & Non-Stretch Straps
The elasticity of your bra straps can greatly impact your strap comfort.
Traditional elastic straps are very comfortable for women with small to average bra sizes. Their ability to stretch as you move makes the bra comfortable to wear. But, not so with larger cup sizes. Constant breast bounce in larger cups creates shoulder pain.
Restricted Stretch Straps
The name of this strap style says it all. Restricted stretch straps exist primarily on large cup-sized bras. They significantly reduce breast bounce, which in turn makes them more comfortable for the wearer. They do provide just a little stretch, so when the wearer is reaching for something or makes other arm movements, there is some give.
A 34C breast weighs roughly 1 pound or 2 pounds for the pair. Contrast this to a 38DD breast which has been reported as weighing around 8 pounds, so roughly 16 pounds for the pair. It becomes clear that reducing/preventing everyday breast bounce will help the wearer be more comfortable. Many women, therefore, prefer a strap with zero stretch, and these straps are mostly found in the much larger bra sizes.
As mentioned earlier, convertible straps have one end, or both, which can be removed from the base of a bra and moved to work under a halter, racerback, one-shoulder, or other challenging necklines. If the straps can be completely removed, this bra many times can become a strapless bra – but not always, so read our details. A somewhat recent addition to many convertible bra straps is having added tabs for more placement options.