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You Asked For It: The Duct Tape Push-Up Bra | Manolo for the Big Girl

You Asked For It: The Duct Tape Push-Up Bra

I learned this little lesson from a couple of Washington, D.C. drag queens back in my plus-size modeling days.

What you will need
duct tape
a towel/ or sweater

First, and I cannot stress this enough. You must use your own rack. Barring that, use that of a willing friend. The best taped plans gang aft a-gley, as our friend Bobby Burns would say, when you try to lift and separate a stranger’s sweatermeat.

Secondly, unless you want your “crowning glories” to pop off like pen caps (is that creepy sounding? That’s creepy sounding right? I’m just trying to be delicate, but I guess that horse left the barn with sweatermeat.) you’ll need a nice fuzzy towel or sweater. You need the fuzzy sweater or towel to reduce the adhesive properties of the duct tape. If you forget to do this, it will End Badly and you will probably die.

Also, you should probably stretch first.

Tear two pieces of duct tape long enough to wrap across your torso from side to side. Place them sticky side down on the towel. These are the foundations of your foundation garment.

Tear two pieces of duct tape long enough to stretch from the underarm to the middle of the chest. These are your “underwires.” Tear each piece lengthwise so you will have four thin strips. Put those on the towel as well.

The assembly of the bra is more art than science, so you may have to winnie around a bit, but here are the general rules of application.

Leaning forward, place one of the long strips along your torso just under the bust line. This should give a bit of a heave to the whole bosom area. If you are applying the tape from the left to the right, lean a bit to the right and then to the left so that the gals are arranged for maximum cleave and minimum splooshy back fat.

Leaning forward and a bit to the left, apply one of the thin strips in a curve from under your arm –where your underwire would go– and pull snugly until the mammary in question is more or less where you feel it ought to be. Repeat for the right.

Apply the second long strip across your torso over and slightly above the first and add the final “underwire” strips in the same method as the first.

This might take a bit of fiddling, and as always, your cleavage may vary. If you’ve got a hard to wrangle rack you may end up using more tape, although, for structural integrity, I would not suggest using less.

To remove: hold the skin taut and peel back. It’s really not painful, as long as you remember to use that towel. Alternatively, take a shower.

Have fun, but be responsible! Oh, and there’s no use asking for a photo essay or diagram. I’m hopeless with a sketch pad and my dog can’t work a digital camera.

36 Responses to “You Asked For It: The Duct Tape Push-Up Bra”

  1. Jules October 18, 2007 at 2:20 pm #

    Yeah, I really think we’re going to need some sort of schematic diagram to go with these instructions.

  2. marjorie October 18, 2007 at 2:32 pm #

    ok, you have outdone yourself with this post. pack up, everybody go home, the blog is closed, nothing more to see here. this is why the interwebs were invented. OSCAR! OSCAR!

  3. Bridey October 18, 2007 at 2:43 pm #

    I’m speechless. I mean, in a good way, but… speechless, is what it is.

  4. Patia October 18, 2007 at 2:43 pm #

    I’m sorry, I’m going to need illustrations.

  5. Storme October 18, 2007 at 3:19 pm #

    oh, but im so lost!!!! it sounds like a great idea, but i just cant for the life of me see myself doing it without some kinda visual guidance. stick figures would work! lol

  6. dangermouse October 18, 2007 at 3:47 pm #

    If I had to be stranded on a desert island and could only bring three things, I’d ask for: unending supplies of sunblock, water, & duct tape.

    Sadly, the last time I duct taped my body was when I was deep in the throes of anorexia & thought it would be a great minimizer. Another unfortunate thing about that is it didn’t occur to me to ‘soften’ the adhesive before stripping the tape across my body — the soft skin from my breasts to thighs did not forgive me for weeks :(

    This is a much better way to go :)

  7. Brittany October 18, 2007 at 4:18 pm #

    i mean i guess i just don’t get it. i think i’m going to need specific examples of when ths would come in handy. i just can’t imagine a time where all that tucking and pulling would be necessary. does it not create like this giant voluminously strange boob explosion. because that’s what i’m a imagining.

  8. Sara October 18, 2007 at 4:20 pm #

    I was soooo ready for pictures. Darn!

  9. Ottermatic October 18, 2007 at 4:30 pm #

    I am also having trouble visualizing this. I think a diagram would be most helpful!

  10. Sara October 18, 2007 at 4:48 pm #

    Thank you Plumcake!

    I haven’t done this since high school, but mine wasn’t nearly as well-engineered and was far more sticky. This is exactly what I need for going under that Halloween bustier.

  11. caitlin October 18, 2007 at 5:08 pm #

    “The best taped plans gang aft a-gley…” I don’t have any idea what this could possibly mean.

  12. Jen C October 18, 2007 at 5:11 pm #

    I use the adhesive tape they use to tape on large bandages, which you can buy in different widths. I don’t use quite this technique but I think I can see the advantages. The thing I find you have to be very careful about, especially if the gals tend to be less than perfectly symmetrical (and whose aren’t?), is making sure everything looks well balanced and even. I have a whole set of pictures I just want to reach out and … well, adjust everything just a smidge. And, of course, I can’t help but pointing out the odd mismatch to anyone who sees the pics.

    My personal use was for a formal gown that didn’t accomodate anything else well. And strapless, etc, don’t do nearly the job that some tape does, IMO.

  13. K October 18, 2007 at 5:27 pm #


    It’s a line from a Robert Burns poem and translated from his Scottish dialect means, “often go awry.” The full line (in American English) is the well-known proverb, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” You can read the full poem here:


  14. Plumcake October 18, 2007 at 5:30 pm #

    Och Caitlin lass, where’s your Highland spirit?!

    In his poem “To a Mouse” The 18th century Scottish poet Robert Burns–famous for writing in the Northern vernacular instead of the Royal English– claimed:

    “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men gang aft a-gley”

    Which has, over the years, been translated into boring modern English to read:

    “The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray”

    British literature and bra construction, just two of the services we offer here at Manolo for the Big Girl. Thanks for being one of our faithful readers!



  15. Nabushi October 18, 2007 at 6:16 pm #

    “O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!”


  16. Kimocean October 18, 2007 at 7:53 pm #

    What great timing! I’m in a wedding this weekend and one of my biggest worries is that I can never find a dang strappless bra that works well for me and there’s no other option with this dress! I have two possibilities (I’ve tried on about 40!) but I wasn’t happy with either.

    I need a little more guidance. When you say across the torso, do you mean below the Girls or right over the top? Does the tape go around the back at all?


  17. Plumcake October 18, 2007 at 8:04 pm #

    Kim, you lean over so that the gals are in a sort of free-float and the first wide strip goes just below the girls where your bra would go. it doesn’t go around the back at all, but leave yourself a good bit on each side of your torso for support.

  18. Margo October 18, 2007 at 8:30 pm #

    This is both brilliant and giving me de ja vu, as my flatmate performed this particular operation last night. She has it down to a fine art, only using two fairly small sized squares of tape. Must remember to ask about removal; does it use a residue? I’d imagine a little lemon juice would take it off.

  19. Curvy Diva October 18, 2007 at 10:19 pm #

    Wait…why would I want to do this? *confused*

  20. Jabri October 18, 2007 at 10:53 pm #

    Does this work for giant boobies too? Cause that’s what I got.

  21. Sheila October 18, 2007 at 11:24 pm #

    I’m going to need some sort of illustrations. I’m having a little bit of trouble here..

  22. shiloh October 19, 2007 at 8:57 am #

    Ah, all is finally revealed. Thank you, superfantastic Plumcake!

  23. Bridey October 19, 2007 at 10:54 am #

    Nabushi, that made me laugh out loud :)

  24. Teapunk October 19, 2007 at 1:52 pm #

    And then again: Why would I want to do this? I know shopping for bras can be tricky (polite for “an extreme pain in the ****”), especially when Victorias Secret isn’t doing more than these tiny C-Cups but given time I’ve always found a bra in my size for the very special decolletee.
    Doesn’t it hurt quite a bit when you pull it off?

  25. Sara October 19, 2007 at 4:20 pm #

    Why? Because you know how strapless bras cover a lot? There you are with something gorgeous, and there’s your bra showing. The funky cutlets that hook in the middle tend to smoosh down and flatten. The tape bra does the opposite.

  26. GoingLoopy October 19, 2007 at 4:26 pm #

    I thought that was the point of the towel/sweater – put the sticky side against one of those first, then pull off the towel and apply to the girls?

    I believe peroxide will also dissolve the adhesive, or so said a former co-worker who had tried this particular operation.

  27. Mango October 19, 2007 at 6:04 pm #

    If you can get your hands on a roll of gaffers/gaff tape, this is even better than duct tape. It’s got a great hold, but won’t take any of your skin with it, nor will it leave a residue. Not as cheap as duct tape, but way better.

  28. Kimocean October 20, 2007 at 12:50 am #

    Hmmm…I tried and tried and could not make this work. Of course I do have giant bustoumas. They’re purty but I think they’re just too big for the Duct Tape solution. Ah well it was fun tryin’ and I did not lose any skin in the process. The towel thing and slow peel off were essential.

  29. Kimocean October 20, 2007 at 12:51 am #

    oh please make that “too big”… geez I hate when I do that!

  30. Max July 13, 2008 at 4:06 am #

    Thanks for this post!

  31. June November 19, 2008 at 2:40 am #

    I get it LOL

  32. Diana December 3, 2009 at 12:16 am #

    I’m going to give this a try.
    I will post later and tell you guys how it goes lol

  33. LalalalaLauren May 10, 2010 at 11:27 pm #

    Thank you so much for thiss!! Hahaa I really needed something I could customize for my prom dress and this is perfect!! :)

  34. Busty June 1, 2010 at 6:38 pm #

    Thank you for the post! I am definately going to try this! I am big chested, so IDK if it’s going to work for meh!

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