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The Ultimate Guide to Bra Types

BY: Editorial Staff | Jun 22, 2017

When you find one or two bra types you love (and a size that fits), it's tempting to keep buying the same ones again and again. But not all bra types are created equal. For instance, your favorite may look great with a polished work blouse but strange under a casual T-shirt. That's why it's important to stock your lingerie drawer with multiple styles of bras.

Start by taking stock of the tops and dresses you wear most and the activities you engage in. Next, consider if they'd be better served by any of the following styles of bra:

Comfortable Bras

Full Coverage

Buy this full-cup side lace bra in a 6-pack for $34.99 or shop similar styles here.

Why it's great: This bra style covers most of the breast and provides maximum support.
What to wear it with: casual or work clothes, but nothing too low cut if you don't want the bra to peek out
Who's it best for: women with larger busts

T-Shirt

Buy this padded T-shirt bra in a 6-pack for $29.99 or shop similar styles here.

Why it's great: Designed to remain invisible even under very thin fabrics, this bra usually sports a seamless design and provides ample coverage.
What to wear it with: T-shirts, obviously, but it'll look great with most everyday clothes
Who it's best for: everyone

Soft Cup

Buy this wire-free padded bra in a 6-pack for $29.99 or shop similar styles here.

Why it's great: These types of bras are defined by their lack of an underwire: that means extra comfort. They may be padded or unpadded, seamed or seamless, and lined or unlined.
What to wear it with: just about everything
Who it's best for: most women, particularly those who don't need the intense support of a wire cup

Full Figure

Buy this Angelina plus-size bra with lace and convertible straps in a 6-pack for $34.99 or shop similar styles here.

Why it's great: Thicker straps with more coverage and tons of support mean ample bosoms stay comfortably in place.
What to wear it with: Higher necklines will hide these bras best, as they have a tendency to come up higher on the body in order to provide the most support.
Who it's best for: women with larger busts

Sexy Bras

Demi Cup

Buy this demi-cup adjustable strap bra in a 6-pack for $29.99 or shop similar styles here.

Why it's great: This style covers anywhere from half to three-quarters of the breast and provides modest cleavage.
What to wear it with: just about everything
Who it's best for: most women, particularly those looking for a little sex appeal that's not too over-the-top

Balconette

Buy this Intimate Women's Comfortable lace unlined balconette bra and panty set for $15.99 or shop similar styles here.

Why it's great: With nearly horizontal cups, balconette bras offer less coverage than a demi cup and usually provide dramatic cleavage.
What to wear it with: low-cut tops or dresses
Who it's best for: women who want a bra with a sexier, more distinct look and who are looking to boost their cleavage

Pushup

Buy this push-up bra with heart charm detail in a 6-pack for $29.99 or shop similar styles here.

Why it's great: Pushup bras use underwire to boost cleavage with the help of either graduated padding or removable pads.
What to wear it with: low-cut tops or dresses
Who it's best for: most women, particularly those itching for that classic vampy look

Bralette

But this Sociology women's lace bralette in a 3-pack for $9.97 or shop similar styles here.

Why it's great: Bralettes combine comfort and style by eliminating wires and padding and relying on lots of soft, feminine touches such as lace.
What to wear it with: anything, from loose tanktops to T-shirts; since many are styled more like a crop top than a bra, they can work as loungewear or pajamas as well
Who it's best for: women who don't need much in the way of support and those who like their bra straps to show under certain garments

Specialty Bras

Strapless or Convertible

Buy this strapless tube bra in a 6-pack for $24.99 or shop similar styles here.

Why it's great: The convertible bra style is characterized by its straps, which can be removed or adjusted in myriad ways, while the strapless bra is, well, strapless.
What to wear it with: formalwear, strapless tops or dresses, or any garmet with an unusual neckline or straps
Who it's best for: women who don't want their bra straps to show under certain garments

Sports

Buy this women's seamless sports bra in a 3-pack for $22.99 or shop similar styles here.

Why it's great: Designed to minimize breast movement during athletic activity, sports bras provide firm support and are available with or without underwire. For maximum comfort, make sure you're wearing the right sports bra for your body type.
What to wear it with:
workout clothes, of course
Who it's best for: active women

Backless Gel

Buy this Reusable Butterfly Gel Push-Up Bra for $16.99 or shop similar styles here.

Why it's great: They use a tacky gel (instead of straight adhesive) to cling to your chest, making them reuseable. Some can be worn upward of 20 or 50 times, while others are still only intended for a few uses before they no longer cling.
What to wear it with: revealing strapless or backless ensembles
Who it's best for: most women, but women with larger busts may find the support inadequate or the cups too small

Nursing

Buy this seamless nursing bra in a 6-pack for $32.99 or shop similar styles here.

Why it's great: Nursing-bra cups have detachable clips at the top, which allow nursing mothers easy access for breastfeeding. Supportive cups keep the breasts comfortable.
What to wear it with: shirts or tops that are quick to unbutton or pull aside to allow for easier nursing
Who it's best for: breastfeeding moms