• DIY: How to make a bra strap converter for low-back dresses

    If you’ve ever passed on a low-back top or dress due to qualms about what bra to wear, here’s a quick DIY project that might nix such qualms in the future. After posting about a few holiday dresses this season, several readers (thank you all!) informed me about a low-back bra converter. It’s very affordable to buy, but not always easy to find right when you need it.

    Thankfully, the converter design is not rocket science. The night before my event, I scrounged up some supplies at home and finished one in 5 minutes. All you need is:

    1) Snip off the clasps from an old bra, making sure to leave enough “band” on to attach to the elastic. Bra clasps for the most part are universally sized, but do test out the clasps on the bra you plan on wearing just to be sure.

    2) Sew one clasp to the end of an elastic band. Make sure you sew it on securely because there will be tension pulling on the band.

    3) Clasp it on one end of your bra, and wrap around your tummy to measure the length you need. You want it to be taut so that the tension pulls the back of bra band down low enough, but not so tight that you’re uncomfortable. Cut your elastic to the length you need, then sew on the second clasp. Voila! This will not work on completely back-less items, but is adjustable enough to work on a range of lower-dipping backs.

    Photo for illustrative purposes only…please resist any snickering : )


    A few of you have asked how the Zara sequin dress in XS worked out, so here is a belated update. There was once a time when I’d go for the tightest fit possible, but that time has long passed. The XS will work nicely for some, but on me, it was very snug and less flattering than the small. For reference, I’m about 5ft tall and 32-24-32.

    Small (left)  vs  X-Small (right)

    I’ve mentioned before that I find clothing to be most flattering when it just skims your figure – and this is most evident in the side view comparison of these two dresses:

    Small (left)  vs  X-Small (right)

    I did find the waist on the S to be slightly loose, and altered it last minute by making a small incision along the inner lining. There’s a zipper along one side of the torso (which I didn’t want to touch), so I took in the other side by about an inch, right at the waist line. The amount was small enough to not make the dress too lopsided, but enough to make a little difference in the overall silhouette. Photos above are post- DIY alteration.

    bra_converter5Readers – Please share your favorite undergarment solutions for tricky clothing designs!

    79 thoughts on “DIY: How to make a bra strap converter for low-back dresses

    • rhaindropz December 18, 2012 at 12:25 am

      wow.. this is helpful =) thank you

    • Tiffany December 18, 2012 at 12:27 am

      Great solution to lower items. Do you have a solution to prevent tops from moving around when you wear them with a pencil skirt? If so, I would love to know!

    • Vickai! December 18, 2012 at 12:43 am

      YES! I would LOVE tips on that. Also how to keep pencil skirts from rotating… 😉

    • lin December 18, 2012 at 12:48 am

      thanks. this idea for bra strap converters will be very useful when i wear my low-back dresses or tops.

      you are totally correct in that the s sequin dress looked so much more flattering than the xs. it looks great on you after the slight alteration.

    • Michelle December 18, 2012 at 12:49 am

      Genius idea, Jean!! I do usually avoid dresses/tops with plunging backs for that reason. Now I will re-think if I am ever in love with a piece with a lower back. 🙂

    • Loan Truong December 18, 2012 at 12:53 am

      I gained quite a bit of weight this winter, so I was debating between the Small and the Medium. The Small was tight but looked sexy. The Medium was loose, but looked classier and could probably be worn again for classy events. I was going to get the Medium and get it taken it; however two Sales Assistants highly suggested that I get the tight-fitting Small instead. I hope my date likes it for NYE!

    • Jenny B. December 18, 2012 at 12:57 am

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    • Jenny B. December 18, 2012 at 12:59 am

      What a ingenious DIY. This will definitely come in handy with some of my scoop-back dresses. Thank you for sharing Jean!!

    • Lisa - respect the shoes December 18, 2012 at 1:09 am

      Brilliant – I seriously would have never thought to do that myself, thanks for sharing!

    • Anonymous December 18, 2012 at 1:45 am

      this is an awesome idea! and simple to make too:) thanks jean!

    • Anonymous December 18, 2012 at 1:58 am

      I think Jean mentioned in her YouTube video before. U can tuck your top into your underwear (a full underwear, not g-string or mini version).

      As for how to prevent pencil skirt from rotating, hey Jean, I would love to know too! 🙂

    • Anonymous December 18, 2012 at 2:04 am

      I noticed that your waist line looks unbalance after the post alteration photo. Could it be due to the one inch incision at only ONE side of the dress? I personally have an imbalance waistline. Do u have any idea how to overcome this problem? My right waistline is straight down, while my left side is more like hourglass shape. I'm so sad :'(

    • jen chung December 18, 2012 at 2:05 am

      Dang you are patient! I would've just worn pasties LOL. Love this more appropriate solution though, thank you for sharing! 🙂

    • Sabrina December 18, 2012 at 2:28 am

      What a great idea with the bra! And your comparison pictures really make me think about some pieces in my wardrobe and if they are too tight or not. Now I see the difference one size bigger can make, I am not quite sure anymore.
      Anyway, great and helpful post!


    • Anonymous December 18, 2012 at 2:46 am

      Love this! Great dress!

    • I Am Alexa December 18, 2012 at 2:59 am

      Whenever I wear low back/ backless dresses, I usually just wear an adhesive bra. But thank you for sharing this solution! Awesome idea! 🙂


    • AubreyOhDang! December 18, 2012 at 3:07 am

      wow awesome! i'm gonna keep this in the back of my head next time i want to buy a low back dress.

    • Carol Li December 18, 2012 at 3:32 am

      What a great post. It looks so easy that I might even attempt it!


    • ✿Cathie✿ December 18, 2012 at 4:09 am

      So helpful and ingenious, and I did not even think of snickering! 😉

    • Kelly Olsakovsky December 18, 2012 at 7:14 am

      I love that you recognize the fact that just because you can technically fit in a smaller size, it might not be the most flattering. I'm not petite at all (far from it) and I find a lot of helpful information, especially about fit and customization. I see way too many people who get excited because the zipper goes all the way on a dress or pair of pants, without realizing it's not at all flattering, and going up a size would actually make them look smaller. Thanks for reminding us it's not about the tag on the inside that no one else will see!

    • Kathleen Lisson December 18, 2012 at 7:58 am

      Thank you so much for this DIY!

    • Laura @ Chaotic Domestic December 18, 2012 at 8:34 am

      This is such a great tip! Genius! Thanks for sharing!

    • Jane December 18, 2012 at 8:39 am

      Not "taught" but "taut."

      Sorry to be so English-teachery.

    • Emily December 18, 2012 at 9:14 am

      I third the rotating skirt dilemma!

    • Petite-ish December 18, 2012 at 10:28 am

      I too would love a tutorial on how to keep a skirt from rotating! And this bra-strap fix is brilliant. Thanks, Jean!

    • Candice December 18, 2012 at 10:53 am

      Hi Jean,

      Thanks for sharing this great bra DIY! It's very useful. I too would love a tutorial on how to keep a skirt from rotating.

      You looked great in the S sequin dress.

    • Anonymous December 18, 2012 at 10:55 am

      Totally agree. I love that you don't give in to vanity sizing and instead look for the most flattering fit. I can be guilty of it from time to time, but the reminder and evidence is right here: the S with slight alterations looks incredible on you! I also appreciate that you are willing to showcase true fit on your blog, so that the readers who don't live in a shopping metropolis can ascertain how clothes will really fit. I can judge how well an item will fit me based on your reviews. Thanks for blogging with integrity!

    • phiphis blog December 18, 2012 at 11:00 am

      love this tip. i didn't snicker until you told me NOT to snicker!! 🙂

      the dress is beautiful on you – i'm so glad you got it. xox

    • Tien December 18, 2012 at 11:14 am

      This the an awesome tip Jean!! I have a dress I'm wearing to a wedding with a low back and it's lacy too! Do you have any tips for bra wearing or are pasties my only option?!


      Tien xo

    • Anonymous December 18, 2012 at 11:57 am

      I'm not crafty at all–and lazy too! Victoria's Secret Very Sexy convertible bras all come with matching bra converters. These converters can be used with any other bra. I personally have 3. Worth checking into! Jean, i love your posts and always look forward to them.

    • Sabrina December 18, 2012 at 12:52 pm

      This comment has been removed by the author.

    • Sabrina December 18, 2012 at 12:53 pm

      About the Zara dress and its fit… I'm actually quite surprised, because Zara's XS have always been a bit loose on me (and I'm saying that as a slightly curvier girl at 4'10" and fluctuating between 90-95), so I guess their sizing is bit erratic? Anyway, you look absolutely smashing in that dress and that bra strap converter? GENIUS! I know that I've personally hesitated or put down dresses because I otherwise had no idea how to conceal my bra. Thanks for yet another brilliant DIY, Jean! 🙂


    • Carol December 18, 2012 at 1:19 pm

      You are adorable and ingenious. I can't sew, so I'll be buying the $8 version from Amazon. Thanks for the tip!

    • Stephanie Lam December 18, 2012 at 2:34 pm

      Such a genius idea! I actually use those "Nu-bra" things whenever I have a low cut/backless/strapless dress!


    • Fashion Foward Mommy December 18, 2012 at 3:30 pm

      Great tip…awesome dress!

    • Anonymous December 18, 2012 at 4:02 pm

      Agree 100% – well said ladies and thank you Jean!

    • Bromeliad December 18, 2012 at 4:06 pm

      You are such a smarty.

      I use a paperclip to adjust bra for racerback tops.

    • Bromeliad December 18, 2012 at 4:07 pm

      Part of what makes it rotate is your bag. If you carry a bag on both shoulders, it helps a tiny bit.

    • newpetite December 18, 2012 at 4:25 pm

      That is genius! I have put down many dresses so many times because of hits. But not any more!!

    • Anthro Blogger December 18, 2012 at 5:13 pm

      A belt usually helps for me. If it's a super silky skirt, I sew on a little velvet or other similar fabric along the inner waistband for a little friction, especially if I am wearing tights. That solves it for me! HTH.

    • Anonymous December 18, 2012 at 5:22 pm

      Have you tried oblique workouts? You can work on just one side.

    • Suzie Q December 18, 2012 at 8:02 pm

      You're so clever, great DIY bra converter! Also, great comparison between the small and XS of the dress. That dress is absoulutely gorgeous!

      Suzie Q

    • gjeometry.com December 18, 2012 at 9:24 pm

      I'm so glad I found your blog. I am also petite and just started my own blog where I'll be posting fashion and clothing items that I've sewn and altered. I have to agree that the small size looks so much better. I have also realized as I get older that tight, no matter how small you are, is not really flattering. Unless you are 5 years old. 🙂 Look forward to more posts.

    • Steffi December 18, 2012 at 10:56 pm

      What a clever idea, Jean! I have passed on several low back outfits because I couldn't be bothered to find appropriate bra. Bookmarking this for reference.

    • Mia Zoobzie December 19, 2012 at 4:25 am

      This comment has been removed by the author.

    • Mia Zoobzie December 19, 2012 at 4:25 am

      I feel so enlightened, like I've been doing it wrong all these years! Hahaha!
      I'm afraid that may wear out the elastic much faster than usual?


    • Debora December 19, 2012 at 5:21 am

      Love the way you explained the process with the bra… the pictures were great! I was initially a little confused and started skimming through the content (short attention span!) but was able to follow with the step by step pictures. I will have to give it a go!

    • Susanna December 19, 2012 at 8:21 am

      Great post! And the pictures are helpful. I'm familiar with this converter and you are right about it being difficult to find. I've never thought I could made it myself but it seems to be very easy. Thanks for the tip!

    • Janki December 19, 2012 at 9:42 am

      I find that your attention to those little details helps us all dress better and understand proper fit. I'm now always on the lookout for the S curve and blouse gaping. And I'm realizing that for me, mid knee is the perfect hem, even if it means hemming just an inch to get it right. I often go thrifting and will pick up sizes that are per-vanity days. Now, I bring a tape measure and look for ways to DIY alter, per your awesome posts.

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