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Bra styles, uncovered!: Bra definitions & images

With so many bra shapes available now it’s useful to have a little insight into exactly what their names mean. Here’s a little insiders’ guide for you… keep it handy when you’re shopping online for bras and need help with the often confusing terminology!

The Balconette Bra – originating from the late 1930’s, it’s the most retro looking of bra shapes. It lifts and supports the breasts, the cups are stitched into a frame, and it has good coverage.  Many fashion bras like strapless bras (with fully detachable straps) and convertible bras (see below) have balconette shapes.

The Convertible Bra – usually a balconette shape with many different straps that can be detached and rearranged in different ways, such as halter neck, racer-back, crossed in the back, etc.

The Strapless Bra – is reliant on the fabric used, the design, the width of the band and the shape of the underwires. Ideally it should have a wide even band all around the torso, solid boning under the arms and special siliconed elastic to grip. Boning in the cups gives additional support for bigger busts. Strapless underwires are different from the usual, they’re taller and curve inwards to cup and support the breast and reduce slippage when you move.

The Moulded Bra – with moulded cups made from a fine layer of fabric or lace with or without lining and sometimes featuring a seam across the cup for additional shaping. With wires it is also referred to as an Underwire Bra.

The Contour Bra – moulded fabric cups with polyurethane foam, with or without seams. Commonly (and loosely) referred to as a Padded Bra.

The Tee-Shirt Bra – another term for a seamless cup, foam lined contour bra with a very smooth almost invisible appearance that’s ideal to wear even under fitted t-shirts.

The Push-up Bra – deliberately cleavage enhancing, structured so that the breasts are lifted and pressed together in the centre. Many have multiple layers of padding or wadding to boost the bust size, and some also have invisible cookies that can be removed.

The Demi-Bra – a bra with less breast coverage, the cups finishing about 1 inch above the nipple point, with wide set straps and short or shallow underwires. Designed with a slight tilt to push the breasts upwards and together to give more cleavage.

The Plunge Bra – a Push-Up Bra ideal for wearing under low cut garments with a deep V neckline, with a narrow centre gore and foam lined cups.

The Full Cup Bra – covers the entire breast, making the bra appear larger than it actually is. It has great support and gives an attractive rounded shape to the breast. Ideal for larger bust sizes (D or DD cups and up) since these bras often offer full support.

The Half Cup Bra – with less bust coverage, this style gives a younger, sexier look. Popular for more fashion styles, yet still provides support and cleavage.

The Minimiser Bra – for larger cup sizes (like DD cups and up), this type of full coverage bra helps make the breasts appear smaller and helps prevent “spill over” and “gaping button syndrome” (in shirts and blouses!). It gives a flattering smooth look and offer full support, perfect for everyday.

The Triangle Bra – may or may not be underwired, less supportive but gives a natural looking bustline to smaller busts and (obviously) has a triangle shape.

So have fun browsing through Now That’s’s selections when you shop for your next bra online!
And don’t forget to sign up to enter their free contest to win free lingerie! You even get 10% off your next order just by signing up to their newsletter!


All illustrations by Teresa.




  • Cathie

    Cool!! Now I know that the bra I’m wearing is a demi-cup! 🙂

  • admin

    Thanks for your comment, Cathie, glad we could help! 🙂

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