Bobo hates on…the clear bra strap.

by Ranim Elborai

What can I say — I’m a hater. I look at the world with a critical eye, and every person I come across gets a good once over. If we engage in conversation, I’ll  find at least three flaws to do with their personality or demeanour. Failing that, I’ll have to make do with an assessment of what they’re wearing. And no one escapes Bobo’s eagle eye.

As I wrote in the Marlie Boot post  a while back, aesthetics matter a lot to me. There I claimed I wasn’t trying to be the arbiter of good taste. I was lying.

Unlike the lovely fashion mags that you and I like to flick through, I’m not here to give you ideas. Style is personal. And personal is interesting.

I’m here to deliver a diatribe against a fashion pet peeve — a grievance anyone with an ounce of fashion sense would harbour.

Namely, the clear bra strap phenomenon.


I first came across these as a teen.

I had only just started wrapping my head around the idea that I would have to start wearing proper bras once and for all. I had coasted by the previous year by smushing the damn things in sports bras. Rather than go bra shopping with my mother, which is how you expect things to shake out, my dad came back from a trip to Europe with a set of generic teen bras in his suitcase. I was horrified by the idea he had gone out there shopping at some department store with my nubbins in mind.

Looking back I should have sought solace in the fact that my poor father was out there on his own in a lingerie department — rather an awkward place for a middle-aged man to be wandering around solo.

father-ted-lingerie-deptIn a Christmas episode of Father Ted, a band of hapless Catholic priests found themselves stranded in the middle of the lingerie section of the department store. Hilarity ensues.

As a teen, these new bra contraptions were yet another source of anxiety for my fevered mind. Was I supposed to wear them even while I slept? How tight should the back be? Should the straps be pulled taught, foisting my tits up high, or should I be hanging a little looser? How many times could I wear one before I washed it? Should bras be tumble-dried? Underwire? Push-up? No-wire? What colour bra would go best underneath this shirt?

One more question that I hadn’t quite thought up yet was brought to my attention by a classmate. We were at some school dance a and the cafeteria was getting hotter and soggier by the minute. There were about 250 teenagers in there beginning to smell like teen spirit. I was dancing away, thinking I looked pretty cool in my pink tank top, when suddenly Erica b tapped me on the shoulder and hissed in my ear. “B.S.S!”

“B.S.S?” I asked.

“Bra strap showing!” She hissed in my ear.

Apparently, my arm-waving antics had caused me to break a cardinal rule of womanhood: “Ye shall wear a brassiere, but never shall the brassiere’s mechanism reveal themselves unto others.” c

So I bought my first strapless bra. Problem was no matter how tightly I fastened the clasps, within an hour that thing had dropped down to my waist. I was constantly adjusting it and I’d have to go to the bathroom to pull it all the way up at regular intervals. It was not working for me.

When I came across the clear bra strap that summer, I was jubilant. My strapless problems were history. Or so I thought.

After buying one of those bras, I took it out for a test drive at a party. Where almost every other girl was wearing them as well. They all seemed pleased with their boobage solution, but I was not. I was wearing a strapless dress and, albeit clear, those plastic straps were not invisible. Their pathetic attempt to be invisible made them all the more conspicuous to me. “You’re not fooling any body, bra straps. Least of all me.”


images-5Do those straps look invisible to you? I think not.

And they chafed!

The physical discomfort coupled with my uneasiness with feeling that I looked tacky compelled me to unhook the clear straps. The bra immediately slipped down to my waist so I decided to take it off too. I tucked it in my little purse, took a deep breath, and set off into the party, hoping that none of the other girls would notice that I was going commando on top.

I felt like a badass. But it wasn’t that big of a deal for me, since, well, there’s not that much to talk about there.

But what if you’re a lady who’s been blessed with a little more of nature’s pillows? Or who feels uncomfortable without support. Or likes to shield her mammaries from the elements? For these women, doing away with the bra in toto is a no no.

Well, unlike the prudish Erica, I’m a staunch advocate of the brazen showing off of bra straps. If you have a nice lacy bra, in a nice colour (not nude, that looks grubby), I think it’s quite stylishly debonaire to show it off a bit.



Gwen Stefani’s doing it.


And Carrie Bradshaw, the fashion idol of my youth, never balked at showin’ a bit o’ bra.

Heck, if it’s a nice lacy bra, feel free to show it off a tiny bit more. Tastefully, of course.

If it’s a strapless dress you want to wear, you have a few options. If it’s a fitted dress, I would suggest taking in the dress at the chest area so it fits really snugly. That’ll keep things in place. If it’s a loose dress, you should invest in an excellent strapless bra. Here you’ll find a guide to all the of the key features a good one would have. It may be pricey, but I guarantee it’ll be worth it.

When faced with a backless dress, you have the option of these ingenious bra converters that can make your regular old bra hook around your waist! Going for a plunging neckline? Those hokey stick-on cups never seem to work for me, but some women swear by them. Then there’s always double-sided tape, and failing that, some hardy duct tape.


I’m sure there are duct-tape breast support tutorials online.

See? There’s never, ever, any excuse to look wear this look

Unknown images

They may be clear, but they’re still clearly there.

  1. How awful those things were. Even more awful was how excited I’d get about them.  (back)
  2. Clearly not her real name  (back)
  3. You may think that this is silly, but women as recently as 2010 have been debating whether or not it is acceptable to show your straps in public.  (back)