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Styles of bra

Styles of bra

Style Glossary

Size matters – but to find the best bra for a particular occasion, you’ll have to think about the style too.


Want to look fuller in the bust? Resist the temptation to wear a bra that’s a size too small. Instead, try a push-up bra. It’s designed to push your breasts inwards and upwards to create a better cleavage under those plunging necklines.


A balconette is a sexy style of bra with a low neckline that goes straight across the bust. It has wide set straps for a square neckline. The cups are seamed to push the bust upwards to give a shelf like appearance similar to the look created by a corset. Non padded balconettes create less of a cleavage than the padded versions, but they still have a square neckline. On larger cup sizes the neckline may be higher.

Moulded bra

So-called because the cup is moulded from a single piece of foam or fabric – so that it’s seamless.

T-shirt bra

Like a moulded bra, a t-shirt bra’s cups are seamless.What makes it a t-shirt bra is the thickness: a t-shirt bra has a level of padding to ensure that your nipples do not show through when you’re wearing a figure hugging top.

Half cup

Lingerie manufacturers do not always agree on what makes a half cup bra but as a general rule, it’s one where the cup stops just above the nipple. Known in the US as a demi bra, it is generally more suitable for smaller cup sizes. However, larger cup brands are becoming increasingly skilled at creating supportive bras that give a good impression of a half cup.

full cup

Again, lingerie manufacturers don’t always agree on what makes a full cup, but a full cup bra is generally one where the cups cover the entire breast.

Soft cup or soft bra

A soft cup bra is one without an underwire. Maternity and sports bras tend to be soft cups, and soft cups are also a good solution for teenagers who can’t wear underwired bras while they are still growing, as well as for some larger cup size women who cannot find an underwired bra to fit. If you have a larger back size too, it can be easier to find a well-fitting soft cup bra than one with an underwire. Don’t think that a soft cup bra is necessarily less supportive than its underwired sister – heavily constructed soft cup bras like the Triumph Doreen can be very supportive indeed.


Minimiser bras are designed with a specific need in mind: if you take a larger cup size, how do you deal with those gaping tops? A minimiser bra redistributes the breast tissue so that your breasts do not protrude so much – and you can do up your shirt buttons.


ndispensable under strapless tops and tricky party dresses, a strapless bra deserves a place in every wardrobe. It’s important, though, to get the tension right: too loose, and it won’t give you enough support; too tight and it will pull itself down the ribcage. Many multiway bras have detachable or clear straps and can be worn as a strapless bra as well as a halterneck or with the straps crossed over at the back. Look out too for backless bras, which criss-cross around the waist, and – most unobtrusive of all – the latest self-adhesive solutions that you simply stick to the body. (This is only recommended for smaller cup sizes.)

Sports bra

The breasts are supported by the Coopers ligaments, which stretch when you exercise. This can cause them to sag – and the bad news is that once this happens, they will never recover. A good sports bra, however, can cut breast movement by over 50 per cent.

What to look for? A sports bra is designed to provide both comfort and support. Seamless cups and cushioned fastenings will stop the bra chafing against your skin, while moisture-wicking fabrics like Coolmax® will help keep you cool. As for support, look for wide, non-stretch straps, racer backs and multi-hook fastenings – a sports bra with no fastenings will have more stretch, which makes it less supportive. Most sports bras have a support level rating and are recommended for different sporting activities. Always check that you have the correct the level for your chosen sport to ensure that you are properly supported – and as comfortable as possible.

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