What is a Tube Bra?

Alex Tree
Alex Tree

A tube bra is also known as a bandeau or bandeau bra and by definition does not have straps to keep it in place. The garment covers the breasts and either fastens at the back or is made of a stretchy material to slip over the body. Tube bras generally offer light support for the breasts and rarely come with underwire or padding like a strapped bra. Some tube bra garments are very simple, while others are more lacy and ruffled for use as intimate wear. Besides their use as a simple bra, these strapless garments are commonly found in clothing stores in Western countries to be used as sportswear, sleeping garments, and lingerie.

A tube bra is made of stretchable fabric and conceals the breasts.
A tube bra is made of stretchable fabric and conceals the breasts.

This strapless garment is typically made of a stretchable fabric like cotton. It is essentially a thin tube and is commonly built into tube top garments to provide support for the wearer’s breasts so that she does not have to wear a strapped bra. In fact, a tube bra with a wider tube is called a tube top, and a tube bra with straps is a bra. Likewise, a tube bra with a wider tube and a strap that goes around the neck is called a halter top.

While a tube top bra is commonly used as a simple and strapless bra to provide light support, it is also used as lingerie and sportswear. The construction and appearance of the latter two normally vary quite a bit. Lingerie is often lacy, ruffled, or made of a finer fabric, while sportswear is usually cotton or spandex and designed to provide as much support as tube bras can give. Some people also prefer to sleep in tube or normal bras because they find them more comfortable than sleeping without one, or they believe that doing so will help keep their breasts from sagging later in life.

Bandeaus have existed since the 1920s, when tube bras were simple bras or garments meant to flatten the breasts to give the wearer a more waifish appearance. Eventually, the garment became less popular but came back again in the 1940s as part of a new bikini style. Since then, the term bandeau has largely fallen out of use, replaced with the term tube top. The designs of these tops have become increasingly more elaborate, sometimes incorporating O-rings and twists in the fabric. In historical times and some cultures, garments similar to tube bras usually have another term.

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Discussion Comments


@Almita - You know, you should try halter tops out. I'm a little top heavy too and I'm always worried that tube tops are just going to fall off -- so I wear halter tops. My bathing suit is a halter top bikini too. The larger straps gives me more support and isn't in danger of sliding down!

They're still off the shoulders, but the strap around your neck provides enough support to make it comfortable. Plus, the halter top styles are flattering to almost every figure. Give them a try if you haven't yet.


@Almita - I wear the ruffled tube tops too. I thought it was funny that tube tops were made to flatten out your chest and now smaller breasted women like me wear them with to enhance their figure.

I prefer tube tops for exercising too, just because it gets rid of that extra layer of cloth. I like to work out for long periods at a time, so the less heat that's held in the better.


I have tried to wear tube tops, but I'm too top heavy for them alone. I can wear them for sports if I use jelly straps with them. But since I have to wear straps -- why not just wear a regular bra and a tank top? It makes sense to me.

My daughter loves tube tops. She wears them all the time in the summer. She likes tube tops with the ruffles on the front -- she's a little flat on top so they ruffles make her look like she has a bigger bust line.

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    • A tube bra is made of stretchable fabric and conceals the breasts.
      A tube bra is made of stretchable fabric and conceals the breasts.