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What to Wear Under Your Wedding Dress

No matter how complicated the cut.

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A bride in her underwear Photo: Valentine

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Okay, so you’ve picked out the dress you want to get married in. Now you just have to figure out what you want to wear underneath it — which is a lot trickier than it sounds.

Thanks to the popularity of backless, strapless, deep-v, or otherwise skin-exposing gowns, it can difficult, if not impossible, to find a bra that won’t show through when you’re walking down the aisle, let alone moving around and dancing. Regardless of your dress type, one popular option is having bra cups sewn into your dress. This won’t offer you much in terms of support, but it will create shape and prevent anyone from seeing your nips (if that idea happens to bother you, which it might not).

But the bottom line: Bridal undergarments are a pretty personal choice. The most important thing is that you’re happy and comfortable in whatever outfit you’ve chosen! If you’re into free-boobin’ it and don’t care for constricting shapewear, you do you, girl. But if you want the support of a bra or feel better in a pair of Spanx, here’s what the experts recommend wearing under various types of wedding gowns.

If your dress is strapless: sewn-in cups or a strapless bra.

With a strapless dress, you can get away with wearing a strapless bra, if you want one — just make sure that everything fits perfectly up top, because any gap will reveal your bra. (If you are having your dress altered, experts recommend bringing your undergarments to each fitting for this very reason.) Try the American Eagle Summer Strapless Push-Up Bra ($28) or the Freya Idol Allure Convertible Strapless Bra ($72).

If your dress is backless or has an illusion back: Sewn-in cups or a sticky bra.

“Any wedding dress with an illusion back almost always needs cups sewn in or self-stick cups,” says Tina Zimmerman, the alterations manager at Kleinfeld Bridal.

Courtney Morrissey, the alterations manager at Gabriella New York, also recommends sewn-in cups or sticky cups — but cautions that these types of dresses might be uncomfortable if you wear a larger bra size and want your chest supported. “Low-back and backless gowns can be tricky to gain support if you have a larger bust size,” she says. “Cups can be stitched in; however, that will never provide lift and support in the case of a backless gown. If the gown has a low back, sometimes a low-back corset or a plunge bra can be your best friend, but that is not always the case.”

For sticky bras, options are far more extensive than you’d think. I’d suggest comparing the options at both Nu Bra and Fashion Forms, both of which make several options in different colors of nude and silicone (check out the Fashion Forms Lingerie Solutions Superlite Adhesive Bra ($17) and the Nu Bra Seamless ($42)).

If your dress has a low back, but isn’t totally backless: A low-back bra.

Low-back bras don’t always live up to their name, so make sure you try on a few options with your dress. Check out the Dominique Noemi Strapless Longline Bra ($29) and the Va Bien Ultra-Lift Low Back Bustier ($79).

If your dress has a deep-v or plunging neckline: Sewn-in cups, a sticky bra, or a deep-v bra.

“For a deep-v neckline, we generally recommend that cups be sewn into your wedding dress,” says Zimmerman. “But if you’re looking for more support, there are many deep-v bras available, as well as self-stick bras.” Two deep-v bra options: the Nordstrom Convertible Plunge Bra ($28) or the La Perla Up Date Underwire Bra ($164).

If your dress has a trumpet or mermaid skirt, or is otherwise tight around your midsection: Shapewear (if you want it!).

Zimmerman says that 99 percent of the brides she works with opt for a skin tone color if they do go with shapewear. And obviously, whether or not you want to wear shapewear is a personal choice in the first place.

Spanx and Yummie make fantastic shapewear options with everything from high-power hold to very thin, barely-there styles,” says Morrissey. It’s also something to consider even if you’re not trying to suck anything in: “I find that thin, nude, natural waist shorts like the Spanx Skinny Britches helps diffuse corset boning when worn with the corset tucked inside.” Try the Camo Mio Smoothing Boyshort (from $10) or the Spanx Skinny Britches Mid-Thigh Short ($48).

If you’re wearing a sheath-type dress and want some full-body support: A curve-hugging slip.

Again, this is a personal choice. But if your dress is fitted in all the right places and you’d feel better with a bit of shapewear on, you can’t go wrong with a full-body slip, like the Triumph Perfect Sensation Bodydress ($90) or the dMondaine Rita Slip ($159).

And what about underwear?

If you’re concerned about VPL but don’t want to wear full-on shapewear shorts, go for a skin tone-colored seamless thong, like the Commando Classic Solid Thong ($22) or the Target Women's Seamless Bonded Micro Thong ($5).

If your dress has an A-line, ballgown, or otherwise poofy skirt, all undies are fair game. This is your chance for some fun, cheeky, or just really pretty bridal underpinnings: Fortnight’s Ruby Seamless High Waist ($62)? Valentine’s Bangle Bikini ($32)? Negative Underwear’s Essaouira Thong ($30)? These white briefs from Etsy that say “Just Married” on the butt ($15)? Anything and everything is possible. Check out the special occasion section of Racked’s guide to lingerie shopping for even more ideas.