You've picked out your perfect dress, you know what shoes you're going to wear, and you've even decided on hair and makeup. Now, for something that may have slipped your mind: undergarments. It's easy to forget about what goes under the gown, but even though no one is going to see that part of your look, it's still incredibly important to take into consideration.
Meet the Expert
Lesley Brickman is a wedding gown scholar and stylist who offers concierge services for the luxury bride, under her brand The One Gown.
Undergarments help shape a wedding dress and can change the look in a drastic way. When selecting a gown and when going to fittings, it's essential to keep your undergarments in mind. For example, will you be wearing a bra with your dress, or are sewn-in cups suitable? Do you want to cinch your waist in with a corset? Is your dress so tight that you need to go commando for the night? These are all things to consider.
To ensure you feel comfortable through and through on your big day, we spoke with an expert stylist to figure out exactly what to wear under your wedding dress.
The Most Important Undergarments to Remember
There are actually no real rules on what type of undergarments brides should wear. "What a bride chooses to wear on her wedding day is a personal choice, in my opinion, and should be based on what she will be most comfortable and happy wearing," says Lesley Brickman, wedding gown scholar and stylist.
That said, Brickman notes that most brides opt to wear, at the very least, underwear and a bra. Your wedding gown might be luxurious and fancy, but your undergarments don't need to be. A bra that fits well and underwear that doesn't bunch, ride up, or produce panty lines are really all that's needed for most to look and feel their best.
Shapewear is always an option, but Brickman says it's not necessary. "I only recommend women explore shapewear to target any areas that could make them feel less confident on their wedding day," she says. "If you feel that your tummy needs a little 'control,' selecting a pair of higher-waisted underwear that doubles as shapewear is a great option. If your thighs bother you, look for a pair of shapewear shorts that can help smooth that area and allow you to focus on the fun of your big day!"
In other words, don't wear shapewear under your dress because you think you have to. Shapewear can feel restrictive and uncomfortable, and it should only be something brides wear if that's their preference.
As for the traditional thigh garter, that's another personal choice. "It isn’t as popular these days as it was a decade ago, but some brides still enjoy the tradition," Brickman says. So in short, only opt for one if you want it. And if you choose to go the garter route, it's worth pointing out that it can be a secret item. "You can still wear a garter without having to do the whole 'hubby removes it from your thigh in front of your whole family' thing during the reception," she says. "To each their own!"
What Color Undergarments Should You Wear?
The color of your undergarments is important for your big day, especially if you're wearing pure white. While many wedding gowns have a lining, to prevent them from being see-through, you probably still shouldn't chance it with a bright pink, lacy thong.
"Opt for undergarments that are as close to your natural skin tone as possible, especially if you’re wearing an ivory or white gown," Brickman recommends. "Many of the common fabrics we see in bridal gowns are often rather see-through, so leave the neon-colored thongs or the white bra with hot pink flowers at home, or better yet, pack them for your honeymoon!"
You can also opt for white undergarments if you really want to go full-on bridal. In general, natural and neutral tones that are close to your skin tone and whites are your best bet. If you really need some color, opt for blush.
"Bring your intended day-of undergarments to your bridal gown fitting so you can test them to see if they’re noticeable under your gown," Brickman advises. "You don't want to arrive at your wedding venue and have to scramble over a pair of ill-fitting or wrong-colored undies! "
Should Brides Skip Underwear Altogether?
Some brides might feel more comfortable wearing no underwear at all, especially if they generally opt to go commando or skip the bra. This isn't an inappropriate option, but Brickman warns caution. "I personally would opt for at least a pair of thong underwear, even for the sheerest of wedding gowns, to ensure there are no 'wardrobe malfunctions' throughout the event," she says. "Remember, some fabrics become nearly see-through with flash photography!" That said, she notes it's completely up to the bride.
It's also worth noting that some wedding gowns make it easy to skip a bra. "Many wedding gowns can have built-in bras, which is a great option for women who need extra support in the bust area," Brickman says. If your cup size is small enough, you may be able to get away without a bra, while brides with larger busts might feel more comfortable in a bra.
"Sewn-in cups or built-in corsets can be sufficient for support for larger chested brides if they’re done well," Brickman says. "This is where spending money on quality alterations can really pay off. Ask your alterations team about this during your first appointment, so they can plan appropriately to explore all options that will make you feel supported and comfortable, regardless of your bust size or neckline!"
What to Wear Under a Revealing Gown
For classic ballgowns and more simple A-line dresses, undergarments can be easy to decide on. In many cases, a regular old bra and a pair of seamless underwear will work. But for dresses that tend to be more revealing (think plunging necklines or backless looks), things can feel more tricky.
If your gown has a very low neckline, cut-outs, or illusion netting around the bust, Brickman recommends working with an alterations team to see what they can do to offer enough support with sewn-in cups. "Adhesive bras—including those that can be unhooked and worn separately, such as Perkies or NuBra—can be a great option," Brickman also notes. Additionally, she recommends fashion tape if you're up for it.
For gowns that have a very low back, are backless, or feature a lot of illusion netting, wearing a bra can feel impossible. For this, Brickman again recommends adhesive bras since they don't show on the back and still offer support for the breasts. It's even important to keep panties in mind for a dress like this: "It's crucial to look for underwear that dips low enough to be invisible, so be sure to look for options labeled 'low rise,'" Brickman says.
When shopping for your wedding day undergarments, there are a few other tips you should always keep in mind.
- Avoid anything with embellishments. Brickman recommends avoiding rhinestones, large appliqués, and any other similar embellishment that could snag or catch on your wedding gown. Save the fun lingerie for the very end of the night.
- Buy the correct size. It sounds obvious, but it's actually an easy mistake to make. It's always a good idea to get sized, especially for your bra, before or during fittings. As Brickman points out, this "ensures comfort all day and night long, and also helps you avoid lumps, bumps, or gaps between your skin and the garment."
- Think about bust support before you buy your dress. Brickman highly recommends this tip, especially for those who may be concerned with support for a larger chest. "Look for gowns with straps, or strapless gowns with built-in corsets, that offer immediate support without the need for complex and often costly alterations," she says.
- Wear something you already know you love. "You don’t have to spend money on new or 'special' undergarments for your wedding day," Brickman says. "If you have a great strapless bra that is comfortable, fits well, and is of the right color, wear it!"
Even if you think you have the perfect undergarments on, it's always a good idea to be prepared. "Bring a backup pair of underwear and bra (if wearing one) to your wedding venue," Brickman says. "I also recommend women pack adhesive strips in their day-of kits just in case a strap starts to slip."
The Best Undergarment Brands for Brides
There are so many bra and underwear brands out there that it can be hard to know where to shop, especially if you don't have a tried and true favorite. Luckily, Brickman has a few picks that she recommends to her brides.
One that she loves is SKIMS. "Kim Kardashian knew what she was doing when she created SKIMS," Brickman enthuses. "I love their low-back Shapewear shorts—ideal for those low-slung gowns women are loving lately! And the one-legged Shapewear shorts, perfect for gowns with front slits!"
For comfortable and barely-there panties, she recommends both Commando and Cosabella. "They both make wonderful, nearly invisible thongs that are go-to's, for many of my clients, for both comfort and affordability," she says. If you want to splurge, Brickman is a big fan of La Perla, which she notes "comes at a higher price point but deliver on both beauty and true luxury feel."
For unique bras, she loves Perkies adhesive bras and nipple covers. "I recommend these to all of my clients as they appear invisible under even the sheerest of clothing and stay put all day and night long," she says.