What To Wear Under Racerback Tops and Dresses


Reader Question:

Hi! First of all, I love your blog. It has truly helped me re-do my “mom-drobe” and get back to looking like a regular person.

Server I love these racer back tank tops (pictured at left from madewell.com), but I never know what to wear under them. I usually do a strapless bra, but I feel like I need something else because the arm holes are usually really big and reveal most of the bra, not to mention someone could sneak a peak at my back/belly flab 🙂

Should I layer another tank underneath? If so, does that have to be racer back as well, but tighter? Do I try to find a tube top or something? Help!



Julie – LOVE your taste in tops.  I’m also a huge Madewell fan – a perfect place to look for non “mom-drobe” items.  And I think I’m going to have to steal your phrase “mom-drobe”.  Look for it in future posts.  🙂

In terms of what to put under a racerback….try one of the following strategies:


If your racerback is tight enough, or the armholes are cut high enough so your bra won’t show, strapless bras are the way to go.  I just updated our Best Strapless Bras for Post-Nursing article from last summer with current links…because the strapless bras featured there are still be the best around – post-nursing or not.

Racerback Bras

F2564cal_bv Typically, I don’t mind cute bra straps peeking out from a tank top.  With a racer-back top, however, even cute bra straps start to look weird.  Your best bet for a racer-back style tank (or dress) is to simply invest in a good racer-back bra option.

Julie, as you pointed out, many racer-back style tops have rather large armholes. V301862 For this reason, I’d stick to racer-back bras that look like they were made to be seen.  Find bras in a cute color (black, red, burgundy, yellow, etc) and avoid anything too bra-like (namely beige or white).

Calvin Klein’s Perfectly Fit Racer-back Bra, $42 at Bare Necessities.com is a great basic option (pictured above in black), or for fun summer colors, try Victoria’s Secret’s Body By Victoria Racerback Bra, $45, pictured at right in orange.  I love how this bright orange would be a perfect pop of color peeking out from under a tank.

D1509cal_fsbv If possible, find bras that have a fairly wide band (to avoid back fat), and a band that also looks like it was meant to be seen.

I’m not usually a fan of obvious labels, but Calvin Klein’s X Cotton Racerback Bra, $30 at Bare Necessities.com, would be a cool, comfortable and sporty choice to peek out from underneath summer tanks.

Racerback Sport Bras

Gp636142-05p01v01 There are a few racer-back sport bras that manage to walk the line between sports-bra and real-bra.  The key here is to forgo sport-style support and look for sports bras with thinner straps and lower necklines.

One of my very favorite options is Gap’s Racerback Bra, $20, pictured at left.  I’ve also managed to nurse in this bra, which is an added bonus.

If you need more support, Nike’s Seamless Airborne Sports Bra, $40 at Bare 339323nik1 Necessities.com, is the way to go.  For Summer 2010, this bra is available in turquoise, violet and plum (in addition to the basic black and white, which is pictured at right).

Cross-Back Bikini Tops

77128_DT9 One of my very favorite ways to rock a tank top is to layer it over a cute bikini top.  And racer-back tops look amazing over bikinis that have cross-back straps.  Bikini tops are almost always cuter than actual bras, so if they show, who cares?

Pictured at left is Patagonia’s Solid Kupala Top, $45.

Layer A Tank Underneath

If you want to cover more back flab and post-partum tummy, then try layering your racerback top over another tank.  But beware:  You’ll want a paper-thin tank (for comfort and to prevent overheating) and the layering tank should also be a racerback style.  Too many straps all over + too much fabric = disaster.  101423_glare_l_thumb

By far, my favorite layering tank is C&C California’s Basic Tank, $34 at candccalifornia.com (pictured at right).  These tanks  were big several years ago, but remain my go-to layering tank due to the paper-thin fabric, long length, and wide array of colors.  They have a slight racerback and thin straps, and will layer nicely under just about any racerback top.  And yes – I’ve nursed in these babies, also.

Julie, pair this tank with any of the bra options described above, add your fab Madewell racerback top, and voila!




  1. Hi there,
    I was just about to post the same question! I would love to wear these tops but I literally LIVE and must wear my nursing tanks…therefore there is no racer back. You had mentioned nursing in the racer back layering tank…but how? Is there a racer back nursing bra?
    I just need flowy shirts for my upcoming trip to disney that I can easily nurse in and that aren’t too hot!
    Thanks in advance!

  2. Ok, so useless for those of us with huge boobs/huge bras. 1. they don’t make many racerback bras in large cup sizes. (think f, g,h,i, j) and 2. if they do, you end up with severe neck pain/headache. Really wish they would make tanks in normal (non-racerback, wear a regular bra) styles. So what do you do if you need a serious, (read: giant) bra? wear plain, basic tanks.

  3. I agree when you said that seeing bra straps come out from a racerback shirt can look weird once you get used to it. I was really looking for some underwear options that let me wear one without the straps showing. It seems a racerback bra or strapless is the way to go. Having them be in cutesy colors sound like a great idea to make them stand out even more. I’ve been planning on going to the gym since I just gave birth and want to shed off some of that fat. I wouldn’t want to just go in my normal clothes though, something fashionable would be nice, which is why I’m looking for some fashion tips to wear while working out.

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