Anyone who’s ever been bra shopping – either in person or online – knows just how challenging and downright confusing it can be. You are assaulted with so many choices and options that you often end up struggling to decide what it is you actually want from your bra. There are so many styles and types out there that it can be baffling to figure out what they all do and what will work for you. What’s the difference between a balcony and a half cup? Is there a difference between plunge and push up? Which style is going to suit my body shape best? In this post, we’re going to cover the basic bra styles out there, what each one looks and feels like and how it will make you look. And if you want something more fancy, don’t worry, we cover that next year.
Full Cup Bras
A full cup bra is designed with a high neckline in order to cover almost all of your bra. Full cup bras can come in a variety of types (underwired, non-wired, moulded etc.) and are most popular with ladies with biggest busts (although many small busted women still prefer the modest coverage and shaping they offer). The main benefit they offer larger women is the elimination of breast spillage from the underarm area, smoothing the lines under your clothes.
Also known as the balconette, this is one of the most popular and versatile styles of bra out there. On this style, the top of the cups makes a straight line across your bust while the centre dips slightly, making it perfect for low neckline dresses. It shows more cleavage than a full coverage bra but still offers that great support and a little bit of lift to make you look great. Balcony bras suit almost every body type and are ideal for everyday wear but are particularly good for women with bigger, bottom heavy breasts who want a more youthful modern look.
The plunge bra is known as ‘the queen of cleavage’. Its cups are cut to be very low in the centre to create a deep V neckline, and the shape of the cup will push your breasts together to give some killer cleavage. These work really well under tops that would show normal bras or with low cut dresses. Most plunge bras will have a little bit of padding to add effect, so you may want to try one in your normal size and one size up. Remember, there is a difference between cleavage and spillage!
Half Cup Bras
Half cup or demi cup bras are fairly similar to the balcony bra, but with one key difference. With the half cup bra, the neckline is cut in a straight line (with no dip in the middle) and lower down on your breast. This style is more popular for lingerie and lace cup bras, as the depth of the cut can make it impractical for some to wear every day. However, if you are shallow chested or have breasts that are bigger at the bottom than the top, this style will give you a subtle lift and help you feel sexy.
Moulded/Seam Free Bras
The easiest way to tell if a bra is moulded is if it retains its shape when you take it off. That’s because they have been designed with seamless cups and a thicker padded lining than other bras, helping them create the perfect shape for you. These bras are perfect for larger ladies, as they tend to be a truer fit while lifting and shaping the bust. It’s important to make sure this style of bra fits perfectly to avoid gaps at the top or bottom of the bra.
Strapless bras are simple normal bras without the straps, allowing you to wear shoulder-baring styles without showing off your bra straps. Many strapless bras will have a thin silicone trim around the top and bottom of the band to help it stay in place in lieu of straps for support. It can take some time to find the right strapless bra for you, especially if you have a bigger bust, but they can be the perfect bra for hard to wear outfits.
While many styles of bra are designed to enhance your shape and look, sports bras are designed to offer a high level of support and minimize movement while you are working out. Sports bras are put into 3 categories – low, medium or high impact sports. Each style offers a different level of support and will minimize your breasts bouncing to different levels. Low impact activities include walking or yoga, while high impact might include running or mountain biking.
Push Up Bras
This is one of those ‘all thumbs are fingers but not all fingers are thumbs’ scenarios. Most push up bras will have a plunging neckline, but not all plunge bras are ‘push up’. Push up bras have padding at the bottom or sides of the cups to ‘push up’ your bust and give you the appearance of bigger breasts and more cleavage. Most push up bras have padding made of a soft foam, but others will have liquid, air or even removable gel pad inserts to give you more flexibility and a natural feel. Push up bras are very popular with women who have smaller breasts, or bigger women who just want to show off what they’ve got!
That covers all of the basic styles of bra you will find in the average store. In our next post, we will take a look at some of the more specialised bra styles or those that have been designed to work well with different fashions, and the trends that fuel them. At Elle Courbee we have a huge range of shapes and styles of bra, all designed for ladies with larger busts who will sometimes struggle to find the correct size in the shops. Browse our collections based on style, comfort or purpose, and find the perfect bra style for you.