A strapless or off-the-shoulder gown demands the most support because there are no straps holding up the bodice. A bustier, which surrounds the torso while pushing up the bosom, may be preferable to a strapless bra, especially if the dress has a low-cut back or the bride has a voluptuous figure. "A bustier really molds your body so you fit nicely in the dress," says Joyce Andrews, a corsetiere at Bra Smyth, a New York City lingerie boutique. She adds that sometimes custom alterations can be made to a bustier, such as lowering the back or removing boning from the front so it can't be seen through the fabric of the gown. A strapless bra might be preferable for a small-chested bride; it is important that the cups sit flat against the ribs and that the back doesn't ride up.
Popularized in the twentieth century, the bustier combines a bra with a waist cincher. It is favored among brides who love its femininity and appreciate its control. A long, boned bustier (above) creates a continuous line and supports the bust; it will hold in the abdomen with a dress that has a fitted or dropped waist. A short bustier (below) that comes only to the rib cage is better for brides with small chests. Bustiers are made with fasteners in either the front or the back.
For centuries, corsets shaped women's bodies in the style of the times. Today, corsets come in supple, stretchy fabrics with light boning and torso control panels. You'll find a multitude of styles: demi or full cup, with straps or strapless, with or without garters.