List of brassiere designs
There are a great many brassiere designs that are suitable for a wide variety of business and social settings and suitable to wear with a variety of outer clothing. The bra's shape, coverage, functionality, fit, fashion, fabric, and colour can vary widely. Some bras are designed to offer basic, practical support and coverage while others are purposefully sexual, sensual, or revealing. Other terms for bra designs include bridal bra, BBW bra, vintage bra, leather bra, belly dance bra, and others. There is no standardized system for categorizing bras or their design. Many bras fulfill more than one purpose, like a balconette bra made of sheer material. Manufacturers' bra styles constantly change.
Alphabetical list of brassiere designs
- Adhesive Sometimes described as backless/strapless bras or a stick-on bra. Usually made of silicone, polyurethane, or similar material, they are attached to the underside of the breasts using medical-grade adhesive. Some versions provide one piece for each breast. May be reused for a limited number of times and provides little support. Suitable for backless and strapless outerwear where a strapless bra is not possible or preferred, or as an alternative to going completely braless.
- Athletic See Sports bra.
- Bandeau A simple band of material, usually stretchy, that is worn across the breasts. Suitable for small-busted women, they sometimes have built-in cups, but provide little support or shaping. A band of cloth can sometimes be used to bind the breasts in place.
- Balconette Sometimes known as a shelf bra. Lifts the woman's breasts to enhance their appearance, shape, and cleavage. More revealing version of a demi-bra, offering little to no coverage. The name is borrowed from the idea that when looking at the breasts from above, as from a balcony, the bra cannot be seen. First designed in the United States in about 1938, and came into mainstream fashion in the 1950s. Compare to full-cup and demi-cup bra.
- Bralette A lightweight, simple design, usually an unlined, soft-cup pullover style bra. The breasts are covered but the bra offers little, if any, real support and is suitable for small-breasted women or pubescent girls early in puberty. Sometimes sold built-in to a camisole. This style is often used by preadolescent girls as a training bra. Similar to bandeau.
- Built-in Sometimes described as a shelf bra, although completely unlike the shelf bra described below. Contained within or as an integral part of an outer garment like a swimsuit or tank top. Some built-in bras are detachable. They provide brassiere-like breast support utilizing a horizontal elastic strip like a bandeau, although some are shaped with cups and underwire.
- Bullet A full-support bra with cups in the shape of a paraboloid of revolution with its axis perpendicular to the breast. The bullet bra usually features concentric circles of decorative stitching centered on the nipples. Invented in the late-1940s, they were still being sold well into the 1980s.
- Contour Sometimes referred to as a molded cup bra. Contour bras sometimes contain underwire. They have seamless, pre-formed cups containing a foam or other lining that help define and hold the cup's shape, even when not being worn. May be available as full-cup, demi-cup, push-up, or in other styles. Suitable for women with asymmetrical breasts—up to 25% of women's breasts are asymmetric —or with enlarged or differently shaped nipples who want to create a symmetrical silhouette. Also see T-shirt bra, below.
- Convertible The bra straps can be detached and rearranged in different ways depending on the outer garment. Alternatives strap arrangements include traditional over-the-shoulder, criss-cross, halter, strapless or one shoulder.
- Cupless See shelf bra below.
- Demi-cup Sometimes referred to as a half-bra or shelf bra. A partial-cup bra style that covers from half to three-quarters of the breast and creates cleavage and uplift. Most demi cup bras are designed with a slight tilt that pushes the breasts towards the center to display more cleavage. The straps usually attach at the outer edge of the cup. The lingerie industry generally defines a demi-cup bra as covering about 1 inch (25 mm) above the nipple. The underwire used is shorter and forms a shallower "U" shape under the cup. Suitable for low-cut outer garments. Compare to full-cup and balconnette bra.
- Front-closure Bras with a single, non-adjustable clasp positioned in the center front gore between the breasts.
- Full support Sometimes known as a full figure or plus-size bra. A practical design that offers maximum coverage and support for large-busted woman.
- Full cup Designed to offer maximum support and coverage for the entire breast. A practical design for large-busted woman. Compare to balconette and demi-cup bra.
- Jogging See Sports bra.
- Leisure Sometimes referred to as a sleep bra. These are very soft, stretchy, comfortable easy-to wear bras that do not provide much support. They are an alternative to going braless and intended for wear at home when relaxing or asleep. Some full-figured women feel more comfortable sleeping in a bra. Small-busted women who don't need a lot of support may choose to wear a leisure bra for everyday wear.
- Long-line Extends from the bosom to the waist, offering additional abdominal control and smoothing of the woman's torso. Distributes support over the entire lower torso instead of just the shoulders.
- Mastectomy Designed to hold a breast prostheses that simulates a real breast. Suitable for women who have undergone a mastectomy or lost a breast to injury.
- Male Worn by men with enlarged breasts. Usually designed to flatten and conceal the breasts rather than to lift and support them.
- Maternity A full-cup design with wider shoulder straps for maximum support and to reduce bounce. A practical design that uses comfortable fabrics to prevent irritation. May be adjustable to allow the woman to expand the cup size as her breasts grown during pregnancy. Sometimes known as a nursing bra, but does not utilize removable panels or cups that facilitate nursing an infant.
- Minimizer Designed to de-emphasize the woman's bosom, it compresses and reshapes the breasts. A practical design usually worn by large-breasted woman.
- Novelty A fashion bra designed for appearance and sensuality. May include unusual materials, like leather or feathers. Includes unusual designs like the open-tip, peekaboo, or peephole bra that feature holes or slits in the fabric that reveal the woman's areola and nipples. Usually made of sensuous material like Lycra, nylon (nylon tricot), polyester, satin, lace and/or silk. Suitable for erotic situations.
- Nursing Like its sister the maternity bra, this is a practical bra designed with fuller cups, comfortable fabrics, and wider shoulder straps for increased comfort. Designed to support a woman's increased breast size during lactation. Aids breastfeeding by providing flaps or panels that can be unclipped and folded down or to the side, exposing the nipple. Underwire is not recommended for nursing bras because they can restrict the flow of milk and cause mastitis. Some designs utilize stretchable fabric allowing the woman to pull the entire bra to one side to facilitate nursing.
- Padded Designed to enhance a woman's perceived bust size and cleavage. The lining of the cups are thickened and enhanced with shape-enhancing inserts or foam padding inside the entire lining of cup. Padded bras support the woman's breasts but, unlike push-up bras (see below), are not intended to significantly increase cleavage. Also see water bras below.
- Plunge Sometimes known as U-plunge. Allows for lower and increased cleavage. Designed with angled cups and an open and lowered center gore. The shoulder straps are usually set widely apart. Suitable for dresses or outfits with a deep décolleté or plunging neckline, like a blouse or dress. Unlike push-up bras, are not generally as heavily padded.
- Push-up A fashion bra that creates the appearance of increased cleavage. Use angled cups containing padding that push the breasts inwards and upwards, towards the center of the woman's chest. A push-up bra is usually a demi-cup bra. The Wonderbra was the first push-up bra made.
- Racerback Designed with shoulder straps that form a "V" or "T" pattern between the shoulder blades. Suitable for outerwear like tank tops that would expose traditional over-the-shoulder straps. Provides extra support. Many sports bras use racerback design to improve support and reduce bounce.
- Sheer A fashion bra made of translucent material that displays the woman's nipples and breasts.
- Shelf Sometimes referred to as a open-cup, half-bra, or even quarter-cup bra. An underwire fashion design that offers minimal breast coverage, supporting only the lower half of the breast, pushing the breast upwards, and leaving the nipple and aerola uncovered. Suitable for erotic purposes or when a woman does not want to go completely braless, a shelf bra is an alternative to going braless. The exposed nipples may be visible beneath an outer garment. "Built-in bras" (see above) are sometimes referred to as a shelf bra.
- Soft cup A practical design that does not use underwire for support. Traditionally regarded as offering less support than underwire models, soft cup bras now offer competitive support and shaping. This is accomplished by using crisscross frames, inner under-cup slings that rise no more than half the height of the cup itself, and padding or lining the bra cup with 2-ply, molded, lined, or seamed material.
- Sports Designed for athletic activities to provide firm support and minimize breast movement during exercise. Various designs are suitable for a range of exercise, ranging from yoga to running. Usually made of stretchable, adsorbent fabric like Lycra, and designed to wick perspiration from the skin to reduce irritation. (For bras worn by girls during puberty, see training bra.)
- Strapless A fashion design that relies on an extra wide band for breast support. Achieve their strength through longer underwire that encompass more of the breast, and cups with added padding, boning, and shaping panels. Suitable for bare-shoulder outer garments like a strapless evening gown that exposes the woman's shoulders and chest, as low as the tops of the areola. Some convertible bras (see above) allow women to remove the straps, making a strapless bra. It may have rubberized or silicone beading inside the top edge of the cup to help keep the bra attached to the breast. An alternative for women who choose not to go braless.
- T-shirt Designed without raised seams, hooks, or other construction that can be seen under an outer garment. A contoured style that fits the woman's breasts smoothly under tightly fitting T-shirts, sweaters, lightweight knitted fabric, or clingy tops with minimal visibility. The cups may be lined with foam or lightly padded with polyfill to help conceal the nipples. Also see contour bra, above.
- Training Designed for adolescent girls who have begun to develop breasts to help conceal the girl's emerging breast buds and nipples. As a girl's breasts grow larger, these include regular bras in smaller styles, from 30AAA to 32B. Some are padded to help hide a girl's emerging breast buds. Most styles are soft-cup bras. Also see bralette, above. For athletic-type bras, see sports bra.
- Underwire Many bra designs may utilize an underwire built into the bra cup. A "U"-shaped wire, either metal or plastic, is sewn under each cup to help support the breast. The wire is usually encased in soft fabric to make them comfortable to wear.
- Water Sometimes known as a liquid or gel bra. Contains water- or silicone gel-filled cups that enhance the size of the breasts. Air bras were a similar concept.
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