Bra Style Guide

No two bras are the same. Different styles are designed to do different things for your body. A woman needs a variety of bra styles in her wardrobe for different purposes and to create unique looks for certain occasions. So which style is right for you? Take a look through this glossary to find out!







Plunge bras are exactly what the name suggests… this style offers a neckline that is much lower than your average bra. The style is designed to allow you to wear dresses and tops with lower necklines, without the world knowing what colour bra you are wearing that day! Plunge bras can be either lined with foam (molded) or lacy, but either way they often show off a hint of cleavage. This is because the lack of a separating center wire will cause your breasts to naturally meet at the center of the bra.

Who It Works For
This style is great for a woman with full, firm breasts. However, if you have a softer breast type, you must be cautious! Soft breast tissue will spill towards the center of a plunge bra, which can result in a little more showing than you bargained for. If you have a soft breast tissue, try to stick to a bra with a higher center wire that separates and contains your breasts. A balconette bra is great, as it provides similar fullness and cleavage to a plunge bra, but the center wires are a little bit higher. If you must have that lower neckline, an unlined, fabric plunge bra is a much better option than a molded foam cup, for a soft breast type.

Balcony / Balconette

A balcony bra is a sexy bra style that boosts your bust to show off your curves! A balconette has a center wire that is a little bit higher than a plunge, but the whole neckline is low, with a straight-across cut, like a balcony! The straps on a balcony bra are set farther out on the shoulder; a great option for underneath boatneck tops and clothing with a square-cut neckline. While plunge bras are designed to bring your breasts together to show off cleavage, balcony bras are designed to give your breasts an umph for more subtle cleavage and a rounded, full look on top. It’s kind of like getting the heaving-bosom effect of a corset, while still being able to breathe and sit normally!

Who It Works For Balcony bras work with most breast types, including full and round, or mature and soft tissue. This style is a great alternative to a plunge bra for a woman with soft breast tissue, as it contains the breasts a little more and provides a fuller look on top. Balconettes are not ideal for women with narrow or sloped shoulders, as the straps may be set out too far and may slip off the shoulder.

Push Up

Push up bras are bras that boost the breasts for a full look on top and cleavage, through the use of plunge or balconette styling, extra foam padding, or a combination of both. There is one important thing to keep in mind about push up styles: Just because it’s a push up bra does not mean it’s a supportive bra. Push up bras are designed to achieve a sexy look. Full support bras are designed to lift, separate, and contain the breasts, minimizing bounce with maximum structure. Knowing the difference helps you to buy what you’re really in search of.

Who It Works For
Push up bras are best suited to a firm breast—especially those styles that have extra foam padding. Push up balconettes and unlined plunge bras are better “push up” options for a softer breast type.

Montelle Prodigy

Full Support

Full support bras are designed for maximum, everyday support! This style is almost almost always a cut-and-sewn (seamed) underwire bra and is often full coverage, although we are beginning to see very supportive bras being made with a slightly lower neckline, While full support bras are characterized by structure and more rigid materials, they don’t all look like body armour! Brands such as Panache, Goddess, Elomi, Curvy Kate, and Freya are whipping out beautifully designed full support bras, season after season!


An underwire bra is any style that has a metal or plastic semicircular wire sewn into the cups. The benefits of an underwire bra are that they provide more support, separation, and shaping for your breasts. While most women find underwire bras to be comfortable, some women may not like wearing an underwire. But before you rule out the style completely, make sure that the reason you’re uncomfortable isn’t because you’re wearing the wrong size.

Many women who have either not been properly fitted for a bra, or who haven’t been fitted in a while, attribute their discomfort to the underwire in their bra. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding can wear underwire bras, but they need to be careful that the styles they are wearing are not too tight, as this may cause discomfort problems with milk production.

While there has been some controversy regarding the relationship between underwire bras and poor breast health, there is no conclusive evidence that connects the two. Keeping in mind that some people are very opinionated on the topic, we recommend that you seek the advice of a qualified medical professional if this concerns you.

Wirefree / Softcup

Wirefree, or soft cup bras, are styles that do not have a semicircular metal or plastic wire sewn into the cups. While wirefree bras can be worn as everyday bras, many of them are designed with an emphasis on comfort.

Wirefree bras are generally not as supportive, separating, or shaping as underwire styles, but for some women comfort is more important. Some soft cup bras have plastic side stays, which are essentially little pieces of plastic boning in the side of the bra. If these are uncomfortable to you, you can easily remove a couple of stitches and take them out.

Soft cups have come a long way over the past decade, and more styles are being introduced in fun colours, prints, and cuts, with some styles even being offered in moulded cups and plunge necklines! See the Freya Deco Softcup Plunge on the Bottom Right!

Cut – and – Sewn

Cut-and-sewn bra styles are those in which the cup is made up of more than one piece of fabric. The pieces of fabric are sewn together, resulting in seams on the cup. Cut-and-sewn styles can be anywhere from two to six-part cups, which each fabric panel making up one “part.” Cut-and-sewn bras can be either foam-lined (moulded) or unlined (just fabric). Generally, the more seams and parts the cup has, the more structured and supportive the bra will be. But don’t panic—not all cut-and-sewn bras will show prominent lines underneath clothing. Often, the seams will soften with wash and wear and become invisible.

Who It Works For
Cut-and-sewn bras work with any breast type and are often the best choice for women with large, heavy, or augmented breasts, and for women with softer breast tissue. The seaming provides a better, more customized fit than an inflexible one-part, seamless cup and each seam serves a purpose in terms of fit. For example, in a four-part cup the bottom two parts lift the breast, the side vertical part and seam bring the breast forward, and the horizontal center seam and top part of the cup contain the breast.

Felina Melina
Fantasie Rebecca

Seamless & Molded

Seamless bras are those in which the cup is made from only one piece of fabric, resulting in a seam-free cup – no lines! This style can be either foam-based (moulded) or just simply a fabric lining. Sometimes known as the “t-shirt” or “demi-cup” bra, seamless bras are great to wear underneath t-shirts and slinky materials that show off bumps and lines easily, because they provide a smooth look. The downside to seamless bras is that they are not as supportive as cut-and-sewn styles. Plus, it is difficult to find a seamless bra in larger cup sizes due to this reason. The larger your cup size, the more likely you are to need a seamed bra for the added support the seams give.

Who It Works For
Moulded seamless bras work best for women with firm breasts that are not too full or round. Unlined seamless bras or bras made with ‘spacer’ foam work well with either firm breasts or a softer breast tissue. See the Elomi Amelia (top left in the gallery to the right)!


Longline bras are regular bras that have a wider, longer base. The bra band usually extends a few inches below onto the ribcage. This popular, retro-inspired style is trending in just about every major lingerie brand!

Strapless & Backless

Strapless bras are just that – bras that are designed to be worn strapless! While they often come with removable/convertible straps, they’ll typically meant to be worn on occasions when you do not want your straps to show. Strapless bras often have more structured back bands, with inner tensor bands, plastic side stays, and silicone grippers that warm to the skin to help prevent slipping. Backless styles usually stick on to the body with some kind of adhesive. To avoid skin irritation, make sure that the style you choose is medical grade adhesive and hypoallergenic. The adhesive on The Natural Backless Wing Combo Bra (pictured on the top left) is invisible, reusable, and replaceable.

Who It Works For
Strapless bras work best with full, firm breasts, but some limited cut-and-sewn styles with flexible foam (such as the Panache Evie collection, top right) can work well with a softer breast tissue. Backless styles work best for a small breast (38D or smaller), as they simply do not have enough support for larger breasts.

Natural Wing Combo Bra
Elomi Smoothing Strapless Freya Deco Strapless

Convertible & Racerback

Convertible or multi-way bras are bras that allow you to change the strap position to suit your particular needs. A convertible bra may allow you to convert the straps from orignal to halter (one strap behind the neck, with both ends attached at the front of the bra), racerback (criss-cross back), strapless, and/or one-shoulder.

While previously, convertible bras were only available in smaller sizes, lingerie manufacturers are beginning to offer supportive convertible styles in larger band and cup sizes. See the Curvy Couture Sexy Plunge Bra on the top right!

Front Closure

Front-closure bras fasten in the front instead of the back. This usually involves a row of hooks, a clip, or buttons. Front-closure styles are a good option for women with shoulder injuries, or elderly women who have trouble with bras that close in the back.

While convenient, front closure bras provide little to no separation and the support is often not comparable to a back-closure. They are often used as comfort or sleep styles.If you have trouble reaching back to close your bra, you may want to try an alternate method for putting on and taking off your bra—twisting the bra around your body while it is done up, to bring the closure to a place where you can easily hook or unhook your bra. For some ladies, this is the only way they have ever done their bra up.


Sports bras are athletic bras designed to minimize bounce to maintain breast health and improve comfort during physical activity. Sports bras have quite an important job to do, and are structured as such. They often are made with more durable materials and designed in a way that provides maximum support and containment.

They feature technology fabrics to wick away sweat, keep you cool, and prevent microbial growth. Every woman, regardless of her size, needs a good sports bra to protect her breast health and prevent premature aging. There are a range of different styles to suit every activity, from light to high impact exercise.

Who It Works For
The great news is, everyone can wear a sports bra! Whether your breasts are firm, soft, round, pendulous, augmented, swooping, or wide set, there is a sports bra for you. Just make sure you choose the right bra for your intensity level. You won’t need the same bra for golfing that you would need for running or horseback riding.

Rhonda Shear

Comfort & Leisure

Leisure bras (also called comfort or sleep bras) are soft, flexible, wire-free bra styles. They are designed for wear around the house or sleeping. Comfort bras don’t provide much support. Their primary purpose is to cover and contain your breasts so you are more comfortable when you are lounging around or laying in one position for a long period of time. The great news is, anyone can wear one of these soft, comfort styles!
Elita Cotton Lycra Comfort Coobie Lace V-Neck
Rhonda Shear Leisure Coobie Strappy Scoopneck


Nursing bras are designed for wear while a woman is breastfeeding. Nursing bras have several distinct differences from regular bras. Firstly, they have clips at the base of the strap that allow you to bring one cup away from your body so you can breastfeed easily. Second, while regular bras usually have 3 rows of hooks, nursing bras often have 6 or more for flexibility in band size. Nursing bras are also usually lined with cotton to provide breathable comfort. In recent years, nursing bras have come a long way in terms of style and are now available in a variety of attractive colours, prints, and cuts!Who It Works For
It’s best not to invest in a well-structured nursing bra until a 7-14 days after you have given birth, once your milk supply is regular and your breasts are no longer engorged. For the last 3-4 weeks of your pregnancy and for a short period after giving birth, a comfort style like the Cake Cotton Candy (bottom right) or the Bravado Original Nursing Comfort (top left) are ideal.
Bravado Original Comfort Hot Milk Luminous
Bravado Allure Cake Cotton Candy Comfort