Bras are available in a variety of styles that can serve different purposes and create different shapes and appearance.
Bra shopping can be made easier if you understand and recognise these different styles and what they can offer.
Balconettes tend to offer less coverage with a lower cup than full cup bras and are therefore sometimes better suited to more shallow (shorter) or firmer breasts.
Plunge bras have a short and low centre front (the fabric that sits between the breasts) making them suitable for close set breasts and low cut and ‘V’ neck tops and dresses. They can be particularly good at creating a cleavage. However, the lower centre front can reduce the support required for fuller busts.
Full cup bras offer full breast coverage and therefore offer greater support which is particularly beneficial for bigger and fuller breasts.
Half cup bras (also known as a demi cup) are designed to cover the breast up to just above the nipple. This low cut neck edge is ideal for low cut tops and dresses. Half cup bras offer less support than full cup bras due to covering and holding less of the breast and therefore tend to be better suited to firmer or more shallow (shorter) and smaller breasts.
Nursing bras are designed to provide support for women who are breast feeding and have cups with removable flaps to enable breast feeding without the need to remove the whole bra. To offer additional comfort during milk production, nursing bras usually do not have under wires.
Strapless bras have removable straps making them suitable to be worn under strapless dresses or tops. The absence of straps can reduce the support provided and so strapless can be unsuitable for larger and heavier breasts.
Moulded bras are made with moulded foam cups to create the desired, non collapsing, breast shape. Due to this process the cups are seamless, making them suitable for tight or thin clothing. The pre-formed structured shape of moulded cups can prevent them from fully holding breast tissue resulting in gaping within the cup.
Quarter cup bras support the lower part of the bust and are ideally worn as a fashion item as opposed to a functional/practical item due to the lack of full bust support. They are not suitable for bigger and/or less firm breasts.
Non wired or soft bras don’t contain a wire in the cup and rely on the structure of the cup to provide support and shape. Some women find wireless more comfortable than wired bras and are often use during pregnancy when wires can rub into an ever increasing baby bump.
Sports bras are designed to offer additional support during physical activity by minimising breast movement to reduce discomfort and potential damage of breast ligaments.
Multiway bras have removable straps, enabling them to be worn as a halterneck, strapless and two strap, making them suitable for wearing underneath various items of clothing.
Images copyright: Katherine Hamilton