Hunting down a t-shirt or plunge bra that fits you like a glove is already hard enough. But trying to find the perfect strapless bra? That can feel like searching for the Holy Grail.

Strapless bras are no doubt some of the hardest to shop for, with common complaints being that they don’t offer enough lift or slip down through the day. But find a well-designed, well-fitting strapless bra and they can be highly supportive and stay in place!

That’s because the vast majority of support in any bra comes from the band – it’s this part that often carries as much as 80% of the weight of your breasts, not the straps as some people believe. So when the straps get taken away, there’s still plenty of potential for heavy lifting.

But just how do you go about finding a strapless bra that functions well? Here are four things you should, or could, be looking out for:

A firm fitting band

In a normal bra, when the band is too loose the straps will keep it up. They might dig in, but at least your bra won’t be falling down. A strap-free bra however has no such built-in backup!

Plus, as just mentioned, the band provides most of the support – but it can only do its job if it’s fixed securely in place around your ribcage. It should never be uncomfortably tight, but it should feel nice and firm. And if it curves up at the back instead of lying horizontally across, you need a smaller size.

A longline band

Another way to make a band more supportive is to make it taller. Just be aware that not all longlines are made equal – flimsy lace is really just there for decoration, whereas a band that’s thick or boned creates a sturdy base for the cups to sit on.

Moulded or boned cups

In an unlined bra, the straps help to pull the cups taut so that they don’t wrinkle or flop over. So when choosing a strapless bra, it makes sense to look for one with cups that are self-supporting. Usually that means moulded cups, though you can also find non-moulded ones that having boning to hold their shape.

Silicone trims

Silicone is another way that lingerie brands have to make a bra stay in place. It gently sticks to the skin, making it an especially popular feature on strapless bras. Look for a clear, plastic-y strip lining the upper edges of the cups and/or along the inner edges of the band.

Be aware that body lotions, oils, perfumes and even sweat can all affect the adhesiveness of silicone. So it’s best to wear a silicone-trimmed strapless bra against completely clean and product-free skin.

And a few more options…

If your outfit calls for strapless undergarments, you do have choices other than a strapless, wired bra. Smaller-busted people can often get away with a bandeau – essentially a strip of stretchy fabric that wraps around your bust. It won’t offer any support, but at least it provides some coverage.

Stick-on ‘bras’ also exist, which are just a pair of cups. They’re typically made from silicone and can be the best solution when you need something that’s not just strapless but backless too. But since they lack that all-important band, again, these offer very minimal support.

For those who do want lots of lift, how about a strapless bustier or bodysuit with wired cups? Think of them like a longline bra, only even longer! If the lower portion is very fitted to your body, there’s no way that these will be slipping down.