Bra Photo Glossary... and "Bra Mysteries" Revealed!
From Balconette to T-Shirt bra; below are 20 different types or styles of bras, from the purely functional to the purely fun!
The bra is, obviously, the most uniquely feminine item of clothing.
A lovely bra, that supports well and is comfortable can improve the "look and feel" of any outfit more dramatically than any other piece of lingerie!
On the other hand, a poorly fitting and uncomfortable bra can ruin your look, and your day, all by itself.
Learn the different types of bras that are available to you, so you can better select a bra will give you that great sense of well being; when you know you look good, and feel good!
A few things to note, at the start:
The bra cups join in front at what is called the "center gore". This can be stretchable, but bras designed for greater support feature non-stretchable center gores.
The part that comes from the cup, and wraps around to the back, is called the "back wing". The back wing can be a bit elastic or very elastic, depending on the support desired.
The shoulder straps are normally thin, except "comfort straps" which are wider, and usually padded. As in the center gore, the shoulder straps can be stretchable, or not, depending on the amount of support you desire.
The thing that closes the bra is of course the clasp, and can be in front (at the "center gore"), or in back (at the "back wing").
Bra inserts are used to increase volume, to better fill the cups and to provide shape. These can be foam pads, or air, liquid or gel filled sacs.
Demi Cup- Covers about half of the breast, or less. A very revealing version is called the "shelf bra" or "platform bra", which, as the name implies, covers little, but does provide support under the breasts. Photos of both a demi cup bra, and a shelf bra, are shown below.
With the photos and text below, you can see some of the variety of bras available, and you can get an idea of what you prefer beyond those that you are already familiar with.
Also, I have added a link the appropriate page of HerRoom, so that you can see many more examples of the type you are interested in. If you would like to purchase that type of bra, you may do so from HerRoom, one of my
"Top 5" favorite lingerie stores online!
You can view the bra photo glossary by scrolling down the page; or you can just use the links below to "jump" to the bras you are interested in (I show 20 different types, here).
The balconette is designed to increase the appearance of the top of the breasts, and the cleavage between them by its being low cut (about 1/2 to 3/4 coverage), and lifting. The breasts are not pushed together, as they are in a "push-up" bra. The cups are often cut almost horizontally across the tops of the breasts, though in this lovely example they are cut for more of a plunge.
The shoulder straps are set wide, to make this ideal for wear with a top or dress with a wide and deep neckline. See more, at HerRoom.
The front closing bra is removed by opening a clasp that is located where the cups join each other, at the center gore; which makes it much easier to put on and take off. Many women prefer them for exactly this reason. Also, men find them far easier to handle, too! See more, at HerRoom.
A full cup bra completely covers most or all of the breast, offering both more coverage and more support than a demi or balconette cup bra.
This type of bra is best for when bra exposure is not an issue, (or when you actually want some of the bra to be seen) but comfort and support are, such as when wearing sweaters etc., and when physically active (but, see sports bra, below). See more, at HerRoom.
A mastectomy bra is worn by women who are overcoming cancer surgury, and have had a breast (or breasts) removed.
Outwardly it looks identical to any other full cup bra, the magic is inside; the bra cup contains a pocket that securely holds a breast form (prosthesis), which provides a natural look, feel and weight to that side. It also provides proper support to the other breast.
Molded bras have cups that are machine molded, meaning they keep their "cuppy shape", even when not being worn. When worn, this helps to enhance the natural shape of a woman, for appearance and comfort.
Molded bras are generally unlined and may be either soft cup or underwire. They can be of any cup type (full, demi, balconette, etc.) See more, at HerRoom.
The plunge bra is designed to allow you to wear a very low cut neck line, and still remain out of view. They do this by using a very small center gore, and by cutting the cups away from the middle (as in the picture). Also, the shoulder straps are usually set wide apart.
This creates the effect of a sexy neckline by uplifting the bust, revealing the top part of the breasts, and displaying the cleavage.
The plunge bra is excellent for wearing with low cut styles, and with tops that have a wide cut neckline. See more, at HerRoom.
As the name suggests, the push-up bra pushes breasts up and together, in order to create more prominent cleavage. This can give a real boost to appearence to women of smaller cup sizes, causing the bust to appear much larger (think Wonder Bra
Also repositions the bust (in the cup), a look achieved through built in foam padding, and removable inserts such as liquid and air bags or other "cookies".
The cups are cut at an angle, for visible cleavage, and are balconette or demi type. See more, at HerRoom.
Rapidly increasing in popularity, the shelf bra (also called a platform bra) has only under-bust cups, and is designed to support the breasts from below, but not cover them.
Obviously, this bra is worn for special occasions. But, shelf bras are more useful than you might think, at first; especially for women with smaller breasts, and for more mature women who are sagging a bit, but still enjoy feeling very flirty.
Of course under a top, the nipple may or may not be visible, depending on the thickness of the material. So, you need to be "careful" how you "use" this bra! :-)See more, at HerRoom.
The sleep bra is designed to be extremely comfortable to sleep in.
Any woman can wear them if they want, of course, but they are particularly meant for use after breast surgeries, or while pregnant, or for large breasted women who need the support while laying down.
They are made of soft, very stretchy material, and one bra can handle cup sizes from A to D! Of course, they are not underwired.
Because of how comfortable they are, some women prefer to wear them all day, as they do provide support while standing, also. That is why they are sometimes called "Leisure bras". See more, at HerRoom.
Sports bras are designed to give the needed support to the breasts, during physical activity that could cause them to bounce painfully.
They are easy to recognize, by the large size of the center gore, shoulder straps, and backwings. Many are designed with zippers, in front, but it is better to buy the ones that just go on like a t-shirt, with no snaps or zippers that could become uncomfortable during activity.
Good sports bras are made of special "wicking" fibers, such as Intera and CoolMax, to remove sweat from the skin, and aid cooling. You can even buy them with built in heart-rate monitors and other high-tech gear.
Needless to say, they can be worn as outer clothing, and most do not have underwires. See more, at HerRoom.
A triangle bra has cups that are triangle shaped; the cups come to a point on top that rises to meet the shoulder strap, rather than the shoulder strap coming down to meet the cup. This gives great coverage and support for smaller to medium size busts.
Triangle bras can have padded cups, and/or lined cups, but they usually are not underwired.
Most triangle bras have thinner shoulder straps, smaller center gores, and narrower back wings. See more, at HerRoom.
T-shirt bras are designed to be invisible under even the thinnest fabrics. They are seamless, and usually made of micro-fiber with contoured (or, molded) cups. In many ways, they are similar to seamless bras, since the intent is basically the same; to have the bra be virtually unnoticable under clothing.