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Backless bra

This type of bra, which includes halter bras, is designed either with the band that dips low at the back to remain invisible under backless clothing or without a back band.

Balconette bra

These terms refer to a cup design similar to a demi cup. Balconnette bras are cut horizontally across the top cup and do not fully cover the breasts.

Boning, side stays

Thin plastic or metal strips that add structure to a bra, usually inserted in a vertical seam on each side.


An unlined, soft cup or cupless bra that resembles a short tank top, similar to a bandeau bra with straps.

Bulging (back or sides)

Lumpiness or unevenness on the sides and/or at the back of a bra, usually the result of a band that is too small. With the right size and style, you can reduce bulging. To smooth out lumpiness, also try a bra that has wider sides and back. Shapewear camisoles can also be effective.

Bustier, longline bra

A bra that extends down to the waist or hips and includes features such as garters, boning or a lace-up closing. Bustiers, often worn under formal gowns, are sometimes incorrectly called corsets.

Centre gore

The triangular piece of fabric between the cups of a bra. A non-stretch gore offers more support, shape and durability. Looped fabric in the gore allows for more freedom of movement. Some bras have a clasp in the gore that can be tightened for a firmer hold.

Cleavage bra, décolleté bra

A bra that enhances the décolleté area and cleavage. With angled and often padded cups, narrow center gore and side shapers, these styles give the appearance of rounder and more voluminous breasts.

Comfortable straps

Comfortable bra straps are wider than average straps and usually padded or lined to ease pressure on the shoulders.

Compression bra

Compression bras are a type of sports bra that basically compress the breasts against the chest. These are usually crop-top styles. Women with larger breasts should pick an encapsulation bra while women with smaller breasts may prefer a compression style sports bra.

Contour bra

This bra features a foam or fiberfill lining to give definition and shape while remaining invisible under clothes. A common misconception is that contour bras increase volume, whereas they actually reshape the breasts to give you a rounder and more symmetrical bust.

Convertible bra, convertible straps, multiway bra

Bras with straps that detach fully or partially and can be worn multiple ways. The straps usually have small hooks that unfasten and reattach in various configurations, including conventional, halter, one-shoulder, off-the-shoulder, criss-crossed and strapless.

Cookies, cutlets, cupcakes

A pad made from fiberfill, water, oil or gel, which is inserted in the cup of a bra to reshape, augment the breast, or to restore balance to different-sized breasts.

Deep plunge bra

A bra with a center gore that dips between the breasts, worn under low-cut garments to reveal cleavage while concealing the bra.

Demi bra

A bra whose cups are designed to expose the upper half of the breasts. Shoulder straps are usually wide-set.

Encapsulation bra

A type of sports bra. Encapsulation bras keep the breast separate in defined cups, more similar to a standard bra. Women with larger breasts should pick an encapsulation bra while women with smaller breasts may prefer a compression style sports bra

Front-close, front closure

A bra that closes in the centre of the front. Types of closures include hook-and-eye, zip and barrel.

Full coverage bra, full cup

A type of bra that mostly or completely covers the breast for added support.

Full support

Full support bras cover the bust completely and are made from non-stretch or low-stretch fabric. Closures are wider than average and straps are often rigid with an elastic release at the back. These bras are available with or without underwire in cup sizes B to DDD.


Women who wear bras sizes 32-34 D, DD and DDD are considered full-busted, but not necessarily full-figured or plus-sized. Bras in these sizes are generally reinforced for added support.

Fusion fabric

This material is made by combining two layers of fabric to obtain a product that offers enhanced comfort, support and durability.

Gel straps

The gel pockets in this strap give the shoulders extra cushioning while ensuring all-over comfort throughout the day.

Halter bra

A bra with a strap that loops around the back of the neck.

Hidden underwire

An underwire bra without a seam separating the cup from the band.

Inner sling

Soft and curved strips of fabric placed inside the cups for added support and shaping.

Light support

Made from low-maintenance fabrics and featuring thin stretch straps, light support bras are designed for small-busted women. These bras are available with or without underwire in cup sizes A to B.

Liquid-filled bra, air-filled bra, water bra, gel bra

A bra with filled cups to give the appearance of larger breasts. Some filled bras feel more natural to the touch. Depending on the style, they can also feel lighter or heavier.


This type of bra features an M-shaped frame, which stretches around the cups to provide a snug fit that easily adapts to your body.

Mastectomy bra

A bra designed for women who have had one or both breasts removed, usually made with a pocket in each cup to hold a prosthesis.

Maternity bra

A bra designed for pregnant women, offering more support with a wider underbust band. Other features include straps that reduce bounce, along with greater coverage and breathability to prevent irritation. Many maternity bras double as nursing bras.

Medium support

A medium support bra provides more coverage for fuller figures. The fabric offers greater support, while the straps are slightly wider with less stretch. These bras are available with or without underwire in cup sizes A to D.


This material is woven from ultra-fine threads to create a fabric with exceptional softness and elasticity.

Minimizer bra

A bra that reduces bust projection by holding the breasts firmly and redistributing flesh toward the underarm and the centre front.

Moisture wicking fabric

A type of fabric that draws moisture away from the skin for additional comfort.

Moulded, shaped, contour, lined, foam cup or T-shirt bra

Bras with cups that are lined or padded to retain their shape, even while the bra is not being worn. They offer smooth shaping, discretion and opacity under tight clothing. Contour bras typically provide more structure than moulded bras. T-shirt bras are seamless, have contour cups and are free of lace and ornamentation.

Nursing bra

Similar to a maternity bra, but with cups that open to allow breastfeeding without the need to remove the bra.

Padded bra

A bra with padding in the cups to add volume and definition. The pads, if removable, are known as cookies, cutlets or cupcakes.

Plus-sized, full-figured

Women who wear bras sizes 38C or larger are considered full-figured or plus-sized. Bras in these sizes are often designed for added support, with features such as wide cushioned non-stretch straps and reinforced fabrics, along with a wider back and centre.

Push-up bra

A bra with heavily padded cups designed to lift the breasts and/or push them toward the center.

Racer back bra

A bra with back straps anchored in the centre of the back and curving between the shoulder blades, often worn to hide the straps under sleeveless clothing.

Rigid straps

A feature sometimes found in full-figured bras, rigid straps are made from non-stretch fabric to provide additional support. For greater adjustability and comfort, certain styles have straps that are rigid in the front and stretch in the back.

Seamed bra

A bra with seams that join multiple pieces of fabric to form a single cup.

Seamless bra

A bra with cups made from one piece of fabric moulded into a permanent shape that gives a smooth look under clothing.

Sports bra, athletic bra

A support bra worn during exercise to minimize breast bouncing. The design includes wider straps and greater cup coverage and wicking fabrics.

Strapless bra

An underwire bra with wide sides and no shoulder straps or removable straps. Silicone is sometimes used on the inner side to keep the bra securely in place. In order to stay up, a strapless bra should be worn a little tighter than an everyday bra.

Training bra

A bra designed for adolescent girls who do not yet need a style with cups.

Underbust band

Usually made from elastic material, this type of bra band provides added support and comfort beneath the cups.

Underwire bra

A bra with built-in wiring in a “U” shape beneath each cup. These wires lift and separate the breasts and can be made of plastic-coated metal, flexible wire or moulded plastic.

Wide-set straps, wide-away

Bras with shoulder straps that are set farther apart to evenly distribute the weight of the breasts.


The side panel of a bra band, usually stretching around the back and supporting the cups by offsetting the weight of the breasts.

Wirefree bra, wireless bra, soft cup bra

A type of bra containing no underwires.