Welcome to the Bra Glossary. In this section,
you can learn more about brassieres from our definitions.
Back Wings: back wings are the
strips of fabric that extend from the outer base of the cups, around the
wearers sides, and latch in the back. Some manufactures utilize basic
back wings and others take great care with decoration and styling.
Bras: Balconette also often referenced as a demi cup bra. However,
the balconette typically has a little less coverage then a demi cup bra.
A true balconette cup will be cut horizontally just above the bust line
and give ones breast the look of fullness and uplift. A balconette
cup often has some padding to enhance bust size appearance. Here is an interesting
piece of history for the term. The name balconette originated because
men in the balcony of a theater had been looking down upon women (trying
to catch a sneak peak). A balconette bra could not be seen as easily
Bra Cups: If you are familiar
with bras, you most likely already know what the bra cup is used for…
Bra cups consist of the fabric that covers and supports your breasts.
Cups may be cut and sewn with multiple pieces seamed together or they can
be produced seamless (made of just one piece). Cups may be padded
or non-padded. Locate bra cup factories.
Bralette: a bralette is also often
referenced as a softcup bra. This type of bra offers little in regard
to support of shaping. This type of bra is comfortable and delicate.
The bralette typically has no underwires.
Center Gore: The center gore is the piece of fabric that joins the wearer's bra cups
together at the front. The center gore should always lie flat against the
breastbone. If the center gore does not lie flat, the bra will not
fit as well as it should. When looking for "support", you may want
to go with a non-stretch center gore. Some center gores are made with
stretch fabric and others with non-stretch fabric.
Cups: Contour cups are used in bras to help hold their shape, even
when the bra is not being worn. This type of bra cup has an underwire and
a foam lining molded into a specific shape (foam or some other type of material).
Contour cups are beneficial for women that are wishing to obtain a more
sculpted silhouette. The contour cups offer the appearance of a symmetrical
breast shape. Although the contour cup has padding, it is not typically
worn for the sole purpose of padding (increasing the size appearance) of
the chest. The concept of the contour bra is to add definition and
a smooth shape to the breast to help eliminate uneven appearance from nipple
Demi Cup Bra: a demi cup bra is
also referenced as a half cup bra. Essentially, the bra cups are approximately
half the size of a full coverage bra cup. Therefore, a demi cup bra
has less breast coverage. The underwires of a demi cup are usually shorter
and more shallow. The
fashion industry typically
cuts a demi cup to approximately 1 inch above the nipple point. However,
there is not a one hundred percent fixed rule for all manufacturers. Most
push-up bras are demi cups so that the wearer can show more cleavage.
The majority of demi cups are designed with a slight tilt to push the breasts
towards the center to present more cleavage. If a demi creates a particularly
straight line across your bust, it is often referred to as a balconette.
Because they create great cleavage and are often designed to be seen, demi
bras are very popular when in the mode to look sexy.
Findings / Bra Components: in the fashion industry, findings are also called trimming or components.
In regard to bras and lingerie, findings refer to the plastic or metal hardware
found on the bras. Findings may actually come in other materials then
plastic or metal as well. Findings may include rings, slide closures,
and clasps of various styles. Findings are often dyed to match the garment.
However, they can be in contrast colors such as gold, silver, etc. as well.
Foam Cups: this is rather self
explanatory. The foam cup bras use foam padding in the cups of the
bra. The goal is to have padding that avoids bunching up during the
washing process if you use machine washing. Foam holds up better then
some other materials. We are not saying foam is perfect, but it should
hold up better then some other types of padding materials.
Bra: The full cup bra is designed so that fabric covers the majority
of your breasts. This type of bra provides good support and is aimed
at assisting with the comfort of women with naturally large cup sizes.
In addition to providing more coverage, full cup bras are designed to provide
more support then bras such as demi cup bras. The full cup bra would
typically not cause a crease or lines along the top of the breast.
They are not guaranteed to prevent creases, but they should help.
Inner Sling: The inner sling is a curved strip of fabric in underwire bras that mimics
the line of the underwire. This fabric is usually made of non-stretch material
and typically rises no more than half the height of the cup itself.
The inner sling is utilized to offer additional support. An inner
sling provides a taut, invisible shelf that supports the weight of the wearer's
Lined Cups: Lined cups provide additional support and added opaqueness to the bra
Bras: maternity bras are typically made for comfort. They use
breathable and soft fabrics. The goal is to prevent irritation.
Bra Cups: The purpose of a minimizer bra is to give the appearance
of smaller breasts. Basically, to "minimize" the appearance.
The minimizer bras help to allow larger breasted women to wear front-button
shirts and blouses without as much gapping. Rather then allowing the
breasts to project outward, a minimizer bra distributes the breast flesh
more towards the underarm and the center front. A minimizer basically shifts
the position and shape of the breast. This bra can not reduce the volume
of breast tissue.
Bra Cup: A molded cup is seamless and has a pre-formed breast shape
molded into the cups fabric.
Nursing Bras: A nursing bra is a bra that has specially designed bra cups and closures
that open to allow access for a baby to nurse without the mother having
to take off her bra. They are often made with snaps for easy opening
and closing. This bra type is a very practical method for nursing
Padded Bras / Padded
Cups: A padded bra cup has some sort of padding in the bra cups.
This is often referenced as fiber-fill in the cups. This padding adds both
size and definition to give more size and a proportioned look to smaller
bust lines. All padded bras have some sort of extra thickness added
to the cups. The padding can be manufacturered of foam, silicone, air pockets,
liquid, etc. When shopping for bras, you may see the term graduated
padding. Graduated padding will be thicker at the base of the cups.
This helps add to cleavage.
Peekaboo Bra: they say a diamond
is a girls best friend and that a dog is mans best friend. However,
it is very possible that the peekaboo bra is really mans best friend.
A peekaboo bra will be structured for the most part like any other traditional
bra with one major difference. The peekaboo bra has an opening at
the center of the bra cups which exposes the breast and nipples. This
type of bra can be designed as a demi, plunge, or even full cup. However,
to make this a peekaboo, the breast is expose thru the bra cup location.
Plunge Bra: the plunge bra is one
of the suggested styles if you plan to wear a low cut top. The very
center of the plunge bra (the center area where the two bra cups meet) drops
down below the level of the nipple. This will basically form a bit
of a v-shape. Subsequently, giving the breasts a bit of a push to
the center which helps form cleavage.
Push-up Bra / Push-up
Cups: Push-up cups enhance a woman's bust line by creating cleavage
and the look of fuller breasts. With the help of padding that is hidden
inside the bra, the push up bra will help push breasts in the upward direction.
Certainly not straight up, but pushed up to an appropriate level.
Most push-up bras also have wide-set straps. Setting the straps toward the
outside edge of the cups will further assist in directing the breast tissue
towards the center to create more cleavage. Designed primarily for
women with C cups or smaller, the push-up cups are often shaped like a demi
cup with significant padding at the bottom of the cups. The cups are
angled inward so that the breast tissue is pushed towards the center, thus
Racerback: The straps on a racerback
bra pass between your shoulder blades, rather than outside of them. In addition
to buying a bra specifically made as a racerback bra, you can use a convertible
bra to achieve the similar result. Many convertible bras can be made
to accommodate racerback style tops by crossing the detachable straps in
Cup: A seamed cup bra has a cup made with 2 or more fabric pieces. Seaming
(using sewing seams) on a cup allows more variations in cup shapes. Vertical
and diagonal cup seams add to the cups support and tend to be more flattering
to one's breasts. A bra cup with seams can be made out of many
more fabrics such as lace, silk, satin, etc. Seamed cups (especially
3 section cups) will almost always be more supportive than a molded cup.
Bra: a self adhesive bra is a bra with no straps and no back. This
top of bra is used when wearing an open back top or dress when you do not
wish for people to see your bra straps. Silicone-based products are
often used to create self-adhesive bras.
Shelf Bra: The cups of a shelf bra
fall slightly under the wearers nipples, rather than covering them completely. The
shelf bras are like abbreviated demi bras. This type of bra provides
less support. The shelf bra is worn for sex appeal not for comfort
Soft Cup Bra: A soft cup bra is
a bra with molded cups and no underwire or padding. Due to the lack
of underwire and molding, the soft cup bra is comfortable to wear.
It's most popular with A and B cup sized women. Women with larger
breasts would enjoy the comfort, but would probably not receive enough support.
Strapless / Convertible
Bra: Strapless bras that have detachable straps, would be called convertible
bras. This type of bra can be worn in multiple ways. Beneficial when
wearing a revealing top and you are trying to hide the straps. By
adjusting the straps, you can wear it strapless or with the straps in their
normal position. If you hook on the straps so they cross in the back, you
now have a racerback bra. And if the straps are long enough, you can extend
just one and halter it around your neck. Then you would have a halter bra.
The bra straps rise up from the cups, pass over the women's shoulder, and
attach to the back. Straps may be constructed of rigid or stretch material,
or some combination of the two. Rigid straps offer more support and are
often thicker than stretch straps. Some straps may be more comfortable
then others. Bra straps are some times an annoyance to the wearer.
Bras / Contour Bras / Lined Bras / Molded Bras are all ways of describing
styles of bras that are not padded, but do have a measure of foam or other
material that mirrors the contour of the wearers breast. This helps
provide structure and protection against nipple show through.
Underwire: A thin, flexible wire
that is curved to offer additional support to the bra cups. The underwires
are typically encased in soft fabric to make them more comfortable to wear.
Well constructed bras that fit properly should not have underwires that
would pinch or poke. If not used properly by the manufacturer, underwire
can become uncomfortable.