With so many different varieties of bra to choose from, we can often forget why we might need or want this garment in the first place! As with any garment, bra function and style is subjective. Some women are rarely without a bra while others prefer not to use one. Different bras are designed with different purposes in mind, both practical and aesthetic. So there is no all all-round use of a bra, instead we take a personal approach to wearing one.
Top 10 Bra Styles
While not limited to these styles, you’ll often find bras fall into a selection of categories. Within these bra types there are of course variations of detail, design and focus.
- Underwired – covers most styles of everyday bra.
- Soft Cup – without underwire, providing support through the band.
- Balconette – or half cup, designed to wear with lower wide necklines.
- Full Cup – encloses the breast for full support.
- Plunge – the centre front section sits very low to reflect a deep V neckline.
- Sports – high compression to prevent breast movement from activity.
- Corset – using support and compression, lifts breasts and shapes waist and hips.
- Shaping – cup and panelling is designed with stretch fabric to shape the whole breast area.
- Strapless – to sit under strapless dresses without associated shaping support.
- Multi-way – moveable straps to follow the neck and shoulder line of an outfit.
The Practical Bra
The practical reason for wearing a bra is to redistribute part of the weight of your bust onto your shoulders and torso. A properly fitted bra takes around 80% of breast weight into the band, with the remainder taken by the shoulders.
If breast support is your primary concern, look for bras that spread your breast weight. Key features are a wide band and wide shoulder straps. Shaping bras will offer you great support as they smooth around your torso with wide panelling along the bra band.
Some women achieve comfort through less structure in their bra, others prefer more. So a bra chosen for comfort could be a soft cup t-shirt bra, or a sports bra (which doesn’t always have to be worn for sport!)
Whether you’re playing a game of tennis or catching a train, the stability of your breasts is a key practical concern. The more enclosed the cup, the more secure your breast support will feel, which is why sports bras cover so much area. It follows, then, that full cup bras are popular for everyday wear.
The Aesthetic Bra
A bra may be styled in a specific way for aesthetic reasons. This might be to do with the style of outfit that you can wear the bra with, or the shape and look it gives to you underneath your clothes.
Whether you want to balance out asymmetric breasts or make a splash with a busty look, your bra is central in forming your shape. Always fit to the larger breast for balancing sizes, and go for a shaping corset for a dramatic hourglass look!
The primary aesthetic benefit that we look for is lift. This is important for back health and also the drape of your clothes. When a dress has been cut within specific dress size measurements, it will hang best on uplifted breasts.
Your breasts are an inevitable part of your silhouette: the overall line from your head to your toes. Most shapewear is simply about smoothing this line to increase both elegance and confidence. So a useful bra should not add any unnecessary bumps to this line.
This is where sizing comes in! A bra is only fully useful to you if it is sized correctly. A badly fitting bra can contribute to back and shoulder pain, and won’t make you look your best either. So make sure you check your measurements every 6 months or so, and refresh your bra stock if needed. If you find that you fluctuate between sizes it’s worthwhile to have a couple of sizes to hand. Find out more about measuring yourself here on our blog, and enjoy bra shopping!