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What are Spaghetti Straps?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 21, 2024
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Spaghetti straps are thin shoulder straps on garments such as tank tops, formal dresses, camisoles, some brassieres, and summer dresses. They are similar in width to the spaghetti pasta after which they are named. These straps are a lovely way of showing off the shoulders and décolletage.

Spaghetti straps are popular in the summer months because they’re cooler than the traditional tank top, which has a much wider strap. Yet they can also prove somewhat inconvenient if you need to wear a bra. Usually the shoulder straps of the bra are wider than spaghetti straps. If you wear a traditional bra underneath a top or dress with these types of straps, you will end up showing off your bra straps, which is not a very attractive look.

There are several ways to handle this issue. First, you can choose not to wear a bra, which may be a fine option for some, or you can wear a strapless bra, which will not show under the top. Alternately you can try an adhesive bra. Unfortunately, most strapless and adhesive bras do not provide the same amount of support. This problem increases for women with larger bust sizes, when that support is more desirable.

Designers have noted this issue, and some tank tops with thin straps now feature a built in bra. Clothing designed especially for a woman, like a wedding gown or formal gown with spaghetti straps may also feature a built-in lift when needed.

Of course, this issue doesn’t exist for the many lingerie garments that feature spaghetti straps. Some may have built in bras, but in many cases they are meant to be worn sans brassiere and do not require additional support. Similarly, swimsuits made of Lycra and other stretchy materials may not require a built in bra.

Sometimes spaghetti straps are considered indecent in certain settings, and some school dress codes ban them. In office settings, a top that provides more coverage of the shoulder area is generally smarter “office wear.” Tops with these straps may also not be the best choice when you are traveling to countries with strong religious backgrounds. If you plan to pack spaghetti strap tops for foreign travel, be sure to check recommended dress code for the areas you will be visiting, particularly when the culture is very different from Western culture.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a BeautyAnswered contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By popcorn — On Aug 24, 2011

For those ladies that like traveling it is a good idea to not wear tops with spaghetti straps into churches, mosques or temples. Usually there will be signs posted noting a dress code but in some cases you're pretty much on your own. I find that just not showing skin in places of worship avoids any misunderstandings.

I find that ditching shirts with spaghetti straps altogether can be a bit of a problem, especially if you are in a really hot country. The easiest thing to do is just bring either a shawl, light t-shirt or thin cardigan and just toss it over you when you enter the site. Afterward you can just remove it so that you're more comfortable.

By Mae82 — On Aug 23, 2011

Spaghetti straps are great for the summer but I find they are really hard to keep in place. I hate having my strap slip and letting my bra show. I think it looks terrible.

An easy solution for those that find their bra strap peeking out is to invest in some bra clips. These little clips are translucent plastic and you can buy them in most stores that sell bras. These clips are cheap and basically hook your spaghetti strap and bra strap together preventing either from slipping.

I think that the clips are a great investment as you can reuse them for years as long as you are careful. They can break, but I find if you're gentle with the clips you shouldn't have any problems.

By amysamp — On Aug 22, 2011

I love my spaghetti strap mini dresses; just having a little strap goes a long way in comparison to having a completely strapless dress. With strapless dresses you always have to readjust the dress, which is not the most flattering of movements, but with spaghetti straps adjust no more!

Unless of course you have a bad strapless bra - then you end up adjusting that all night. My suggestion, having a good strapless bra whether it is an adhesive bra or other type is priceless, so go and spend a bit more on it.

Otherwise you end up never wearing your cute strapless items or spaghetti strap items because the strapless bra is too uncomfortable! And then it makes it more difficult to show off those beautiful shoulders!

By StarJo — On Aug 22, 2011

I like swimsuits with spaghetti straps because they leave smaller tan lines. Thick straps leave such a broad area of paler skin that it looks weird when I wear anything else with spaghetti straps.

Spaghetti strap swimsuits are usually designed like a regular top, with the straps going directly over the shoulders. You don’t usually see halter tops with spaghetti straps, because they need thicker material to tie around the neck securely.

My swimsuit has a top that runs straight across. The material is slightly loose on purpose for a light draping effect. The straps are nice and tight, though. Soft bra cups are part of the interior lining, and they help with shaping and coverage.

By OeKc05 — On Aug 21, 2011

I went with my sister when she picked out her wedding gown. After trying on about thirty dresses, she decided on a spaghetti strap dress with a sweetheart neckline.

This store offered high end dresses, so they tailored the gown to her needs. Part of this included sewing padding right into the bust of the gown to serve as a bra. They could what size padding she needed by how the dress looked on her. The seamstress stuck the pads into the gown while she was wearing it to make sure they would look right.

This padding allowed her to wear the spaghetti strap wedding dress without worrying about exposed bra straps. I wish more spaghetti strap dresses came with this feature!

By shell4life — On Aug 20, 2011

@Oceana - You should check some online lingerie stores for wireless strapless bras. I have one that is smooth and seamless, but it still provides just the right amount of support with its interior padding.

I had the same problem as you. Also, I hated the built-in shelf bras, because they were basically just a lining that provided no shape whatsoever.

I will tell you that I paid a good amount of money for this bra. However, it was worth it, because I can now wear my large collection of spaghetti strap clothing, which I paid much more for and would hate it to go to waste!

By Oceana — On Aug 20, 2011

I have trouble with spaghetti strap garments. I have some that I would really love to wear, but I have bra issues.

I have a beautiful hot pink and white hibiscus patterned spaghetti strap dress. I have worn it before, but I had to wear a strapless bra with it. The support it offered was fine for me, but it was so uncomfortable!

The bra had underwire and removable cups. The underwire applied pressure to my skin and made the area painful and tender. Also, the dress is meant to be worn in summer, and the tight bra made me sweat a lot.

I have a couple of spaghetti strap shirts that I bought before I knew how uncomfortable the strapless bra would be. Now I can’t wear any of them.

By ysmina — On Aug 19, 2011

@comfyshoes-- Many spagetti strap dresses and tops now have adjustable straps. So you can adjust it accordingly when you wear it. It won't fall down that way.

There are also some which have a built in bra, so you don't have to worry about wearing a strapless bra either! They really have thought of everything.

My favorite PJs has a top with adjustable spaghetti straps and and built in bra. It is extremely comfortable. I wear it to sleep and when I'm hanging out at home by myself.

By sneakers41 — On Aug 19, 2011

@Comfyshoes - I wanted to say that I think that a spaghetti strap sun dress is sexy in a subtle way. The spaghetti straps offer a nice degree of comfort because they are so light and will tend to keep you cooler in the summer.

I think that a white spaghetti strap dress is so pretty with a pair of strappy espadrille sandals. It is really a classic summer look that anyone could wear.

I don’t like spaghetti straps on formal attire. For example, I think that a wedding dress with spaghetti straps makes the dress look too common and not special enough for a wedding. For a wedding dress, I prefer lace sleeves because I do not like any straps on the dress.

By comfyshoes — On Aug 18, 2011

I think that a black spaghetti strap dress is pretty to go out on a date, but it might be a little uncomfortable because you have to wear a strapless bra.

I also have to say that I hate when the straps slide down and every now and then and I have to constantly lift them back up. This is why I prefer thicker straps that will stay up longer. I think that is the major drawback of a spaghetti strap dress in my opinion.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a BeautyAnswered contributor, Tricia...
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