Types of Bra Guide for Every Woman’s Needs

A good bra is like your faithful invisible friend: it makes you feel and look your best in any clothes. Unfortunately, there’s no one-type-fits all. Every body shape and occasion require a different model. So let’s see what the current lingerie market has to offer and try to decide which styles you need to add to your wardrobe.

We will talk more about finding the size and cup that fits you well in our Fitting Guide, but for now let’s dive into the kingdom of womanliness with a little bit of vanity spice to it: the kingdom of 1000 and 1 bra types.

Types of Bra Guide for Every Woman’s Needs

Table of Contents from A to Z

Full Support Bras

Full Support BrasBasically all the bras have either hard-shaped cups made of padding, or they are made of other soft materials, often cotton, viscose, nylon, lace or silk. Full-busted bras can have either big solid cups or are often made of soft materials. If the cup is made of soft materials it will have 2, 3 or even 4 seams to create a perfect shape that repeats your natural breast form and provides you with needed support. The bigger your breasts are – the more pieces should your bra consist of.

Often such full figure bras will be made of different materials in the center, in the outward side and on the bottom, which serves not only design purposes, but also helps define the perfect shape and provide you comfort while wearing it daily.

Soft fabrics are very rich in patterns, colors and styles, and even though they might show less cleavage, they definitely provide enhanced support for bigger sizes.

Go for it if:

  • You have big breasts that need strong support;
  • Your breasts lost their initial shape after pregnancy or breastfeeding, and you need to give them nice shape without adding volume;
  • You want to eliminate breast spillage or get a seamless look under a T-shirt;
  • Your right and left breasts are facing different directions and you need to give them one shape.

Avoid or be extra careful if:

  • You have small breasts that don’t need additional support, make sure your cup is filled in completely.

Push-up bras

Push Up BrasOne of the most advertised and misused bras at the same time. The push-up bras are a kind of padded bras that unlike cupless bras conceal your nipples and are more powerful in keeping your breasts in certain shape. They don’t simply support, they align your breasts with a predefined shape. That’s why it’s so important to choose this shape carefully in accordance with your body type.

The push-up bras varieties are created by varied thickness of the padding and its placement in different locations. The padding allows the bra not only to push your breasts up, but also keep them closer together for the sake of sexy cleavage. The extra padding distributed over the band line and closer to the outer side will push your breasts up and create nice cleavage. If the padding is spread out evenly or there’s more of it in the middle – this bra will visually increase your breasts.

The models that have an option to pull out the padding are perfect for ladies with slightly different breasts sizes.

Go for it if:

  • You want to add some volume without radical methods;
  • You have asymmetrical breasts – choose the removable padding models.

Avoid or be extra careful if:

  • You want to preserve your natural breasts shape;
  • You sweat too much or plant to wear it to the gym – choose “breazing” models.

Strapless bras

Strapless BrasThis bra is like a regular bra with cups and padding, but its shape is specially designed in the way that it stays on firmly even without the straps support. For such purpose it is made in one solid shape and has silicon inserts on the top and bottom.

This kind of bra is one of the hardest to design and make – manufacturer must pay special attention to modeling, materials, cutting. That’s why such models are better bought from brands that specialize in underwear instead of general stores.

Often referred to as convertible bras, its straps can be either completely pulled off or adjusted in different manners (X-back, over the shoulder, etc).

Go for it if:

  • You are one of those people who freak out when they see more than one strap on somebody’s shoulder;
  • You need a basic bra to wear everyday that provides decent support;
  • You are looking for one travelling bra – this will fit most of your clothes styles.

Avoid or be extra careful if:

  • You are into think straps (these kinds mostly offer thin ones);
  • You belong to bigger-busted women that need a lot of support;
  • You hate when the straps are sometimes pulled out from the bra during laundry or storing.

Adhesive bras

Adhesive BraSuch bras are often called nude or stick-on bras and they are not made for support, but to accommodate clothes (often evening wear) where all other kinds of bras risk being visible and spoiling the look. Nude bras will enhance a natural rounded shape of your breasts and even add a little bit of volume thanks to the silicon inserts.

Modern materials guarantee you secure fixture of the stick-on bras for more than a couple of dozen times, however, they do require a certain body temperature to be worn comfortably, so don’t expect to wear it at the beach. Today more and more manufacturers add an extra line of adhesive stripes to many bra types to make sure it stays in place.

Go for it if:

  • You are attending an evening gala wearing a sexy backless dress;
  • You want to visually improve the shape of your breasts, add some 0.5-1 size without heavy push-up;
  • You need to hide sticking nipples under a thin top garment.

Avoid or be extra careful:

  • You have big breasts that need extra support.

Balconette bras

Balconette BraPlunging into the depths of bras history, this might be the most recent and welcomed type of bra in the life of women intimate clothing. This bra covers about ¾ of your breasts and has straps set wide apart.

These models are extra elegant and sexy (usually made of soft materials). Their small wires and low cup push your breasts up, but don’t expect to see much difference in cleavage – this bra is simply not high enough to move breasts closer to the middle.

Go for it if:

  • You are petite with small and middle-sized breasts – the small wires and tight grip of the cup will highlight your gentleness even further;
  • You belong to women that are shallow at the top and need some “lifting”;
  • You are suffering from wires rubbing in-between your breasts – these wires are lower;
  • You have a lot of low tops or dresses with wide neck.

Avoid or be extra careful if:

  • You have too much pendulous breasts;
  • You have big nipple aureoles that might stick out of the low cup;
  • You have sloped shoulders – the straps may fall down easily.

Shelf Bra

Shelf BraThis is a sexier cousin of a balconette bra – it’s a low bra with small wires and very small cups that don’t cover more than 1/3 of your breasts. This bra is a prefect option for petites who are going for a natural breasts look, but want to push them up a little. Important: the band of shelf bra must sit directly under your breasts and grip firmly to your rib cage.

Go for it if:

  • You are satisfied with you natural breasts shape and want to go neutral;
  • Your breasts are size C or lower;
  • You want to create illusion of not wearing any bra, but still want to get some support.

Avoid or be extra careful if:

  • You have pendulous bust line;
  • You have big breasts size D or more.

Longline Bras and Corset bras

Longline BraThis is a long bra, often strapless, reaching your waist or all the way down to your hips. The ladies know this underwear from old movies where duchess and queens tightened their lacing lines in the back until they can’t breath. Nowadays the same purpose of making your waist look thin and seamless can be achieved with much less pain: thanks to tiny hooks in a back, hard shaping or very elastic materials, every lady can become a Barbie for a time.

Because of wires, laces, hooks and hard cups that make the magic happen, corset bras are not the most comfortable models for everyday use. However, longline bras, that have elastic materials down from the cups to the waist can actually help you take the extra weight off your shoulders and give extra support to your loins, belly, upper back and blades.

Go for it if:

  • You need to adjust your waistline a bit;
  • You are looking to surprise your partner: corsets are definitely one of the most creative models; (image)
  • You have big breasts and want to distribute support between shoulders and your lower body;
  • You want more back support.

Avoid or be extra careful if:

  • Your breasts are set apart very much – the non-adjustable cups will cause you inconvenience;
  • You are very tiny in your waist or short in height – take extra caution choosing the size;
  • You have visible spine deformations;
  • You belong to apple-shaped body types – you will need to enlarge the middle part and choose a smaller cup.

Bustier Bras

Bustier BraBustier bras can be a one big confusion for those who don’t know what they are searching for exactly. Looking a lot like corsets or longline models, many stores also refer to “bustier” as a plus-size bra.

The classic lingerie ranking places bustier bras into the fancy category of undershirts for brides or pretty lace longline bras. Very often these models will have non-adjustable cups and elastic fabric extending down from the band. Quite commonly these brassieres have no straps or come with removable ones.

Most of the models are available not only in big girl sizes, but in A cups and petite variations. Due to enhanced sexiness and firm support, bustier bra is one of the prettiest upper lingerie items a girl could own.

Go for it if:

  • You are looking to diversify your lingerie wardrobe;
  • You need to hide a couple of creases on your belly;
  • You are searching for a sexy bridal bra;
  • You are looking for enhanced back support.

Avoid or be extra careful if:

  • You are a non-standard size when it comes to cups;
  • You don’t like feeling firm grasp around your body.

Bandeau Bras

Bandeau BraThese simple models are very popular among women of all ages thanks to their convenience. Such bra tops represent a strap of elastic fabric that is made of different materials: cotton, viscose or nylon and wraps easily around your bust line. Your tube top bra can have no zippers at all, or it can zip in the back, in the front or under the arms area.

The downside of this model is that it usually smashes your curves and can make you look flat. After all historically such t-shirt bras were worn by Roman women with an intention to conceal their bosoms. However, today some models include padded cups and even wires for better shaping.

Go for it if:

  • You are a fan of strapless tops and dresses;
  • You have smaller sized breasts;
  • You like the feeling of immobilizing your bust line;
  • You want to create a layered look with a different color of bandeau bra;
  • You don’t like having to adjust straps on your shoulders.

Avoid or be extra careful if:

  • Don’t expect such bra to provide a lot of support and shaping.

Plunge Bras

Plunge BraLow cut bras are the best prof that lingerie is a major factor in how a woman feels about herself. Ever wondered why some of us have that sexy cleavage while others don’t? Well, here’s why.

You don’t need a plastic surgery to look like Merlyn Monroe if you manage to find a well-fitting deep V bra – it will push your breasts up and to the middle, and thanks to its low-cut center it will create well-defined curves while staying invisible.

Current variations of these deep V bras include backless (silicon insert in the back), U-plunge, balcony styled and many more models, that will virtually give you a miraculously pump bust that looks so natural!

Go for it if:

  • You have small or medium-sized breasts;
  • You like wearing V-neck shirts, low-cut dress and low-buttoning blouses that require low and firm cleavage.

Avoid or be extra careful if:

  • You have big bust;
  • You are very sensitive in your diaphragm area – choose the height of the centered part very carefully;
  • Avoid bright colored models – after all concealment is the main purpose of plunge bras.

Bra is such an indispensable piece in our wardrobe, that we can’t imagine living without it for a day. That’s why there‘s a great variety of bra models destined for special moments in our life - such as exercising or feeding a child, - that combine both necessary support, keep your nipples hidden and serve various additional functions.

Sports bras

Sports BraSuch bras resemble a short top with straps (that are often think and non-adjustable). They are made of soft natural materials (cotton, nylon) and may have two or even three layers, offer minimum support but don’t affect the shape, since they don’t have a proper cup.

The main purpose of a sports bra is not to cause you any inconveniences during exercise or relax time, absorb your body’s sweat and be very easy to put on and put off. For these reasons many models have a V- or T-shaped back that gives you 100% freedom of hands movement.

Go for it if:

  • You are looking for something cozy for gym and staying at home;
  • You have small or middle-sized breasts.

Avoid or be extra careful if:

  • You have big breasts (combine with your regular bra);
  • You want to see your breasts have a nice defined shape.

Racerback Bras

Racerback BraRacerback used to be a popular variation of sports bras where the thick straps are brought together in a middle of your back creating an X-shape. Such straps position is very comfortable when exercising and offers great support taking your breasts weight off your shoulders.

But since such back design is quite attractive and interesting, today you can find many tops and sexy lace racerback bras: they are seductive and comfortable at the same time, since you don’t have to worry about straps falling down.

Any convertible bra can be made racerback with the help of transformer straps or a bra clip that holds the straps together. By the way, many of the posture-correcting bras are also executed in racerback designs.

Go for it if:

  • You have a sleeveless top that needs proper underwear;
  • You are looking for an interesting sports bra;
  • You want a sexy brassiere that will leave your shoulders free.

Avoid or be extra careful if:

  • You are into classic bra models.

Nursing bras and Maternity bras

Nursing BraOur body endures serious transformations during pregnancy, so does the lingerie we use. During this period a women’s bust line is growing and changing in shape, it becomes more sensitive thus requires a flexible brassiere without any parts that will squeeze or suppress this zone.

The maternity bras are made of very pliable materials that can accommodate a change of up to 2 sizes and its design is specially constructed to eliminate possible strain and discomfort. Nursing bras are intended for women who breast-feed their infants and combine the support of a maternity bra for the oversized breasts and a removable part for convenient and discrete feeding process.

When is the best time to switch to maternity bra:

  • After week 16 of your pregnancy, when you begin experiencing swelling in the breasts.

Avoid or be extra careful:

  • Don’t try to accommodate your changes with a bigger size of your regular bra. Without proper support for the stretched muscles and connective tissues, you risk experiencing deformation and back pains.

Mastectomy bras

Mastectomy BraDealing with the cancer consequences is difficult both physically and emotionally so mastectomy bras are a medical equipment that is destined to make the patient feel comfortable and pretty at the same time. Such surgical underwear is used not only in post-mastectomy surgery practices, but also as a solution for women with inherited breast size asymmetry.

The modern models don’t only imitate the look of a real breast; their padding also provides a close to real feeling and balances the weight for each shoulder evenly.

Of course the models we discussed above do not represent an exhaustive enumeration of every bra you will find in Bra4her search section. This is only a basic set every woman might feel the necessity to wear at least once in her life. The actual assortment of brands, colors, models and materials is endless and that’s why we created this website for you – to accumulate and provide you with the largest database of bras from leading American brands and stores. Here you can easily find and compare thousand of models and find that one that will make you feel like a goddess.

Materials used while compiling this guide:

  1. Bra Fitting Advice by Tomima Edmark (herroom.com)
  2. 11 Bra Hacks Every Woman Should Know (Youtube Video)
  3. How to Find the Right Bra for Your Dress (michellephan.com)
  4. Bra Mistakes (herbeauty.co)
  5. The Best Bra for Your Breast Type (shape.com)
  6. How-to bra shop (wikia.com)

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