Adhesive or Backless bra: A bra without shoulder straps or a rear band, affixed to the breasts with removable adhesive.
Balconette: Also known as a balcony bra, it provides less coverage than a demi bra, with the top of the cup making a straight line across the breasts. Balconettes have the effect of lifting the breasts like a shelf.
Bandeau: A strapless band of fabric to cover the breasts. Some bandeaus have built-in cups, and are most effective for small-breasted women.
Bralette: An unlined, soft cup bra, most often resembling a crop-top. A bralette provides very little support and are generally best for the small-busted. They can also be great sleep bras for women of all sizes.
Contour Bra: A bra with a shaped cup that has fiberfill or foam lining. These are highly structured cups that retain the shape of a breast, even when removed from the body. Generally, contour bras have an underwire and can sometimes be known as T-shirt bras. Not to be confused with Molded Cup bras, Contour Bras have a sculpted look that can also help reduce “high-beams.”
Convertible Bra: A bra style that features removable straps that can be rearranged to fit under a variety of neck-lines, such as halter-top, one-shoulder and racer-back. Convertible bras generally double as strapless bras.
Demi Cup Bra: “Demi” in French means half – and that’s exactly what this bra style refers to – a half cup. These underwire bras expose the top portion of the breast and feature wide-set straps.
Front Clasp/Front Closure Bra: Exactly like the name implies, these bras fasten in the front, for easier access. Front clasp bras provide less support than a full cup or seamed bra because they don’t offer adjustable band support.
Full Cup: A full cup bra covers most of the breast, providing great support. Full cup bras were historically recommended for fuller figured women, although that is changing as more manufacturers focusing on full-busted and full-figured women enter the market.
Long line/Bustier: A bra that extends from bust to hips. Generally structured with boning and many hook and eye closures. Many long line bras also shape the waist and redistribute the weight of the breasts, making these a great choice for women with back and/or shoulder pain.
Maternity: A bra designed for women who are pregnant. These bras feature wider straps for increased support, which helps reduce the breast sensitivity that often comes with pregnancy.
Minimizer: Minimizer Bras make the breast appear smaller by up to one cup size by pushing breast tissue into a lower-profile cup. Minimizers, in fact, redistribute the breast so that it is spread wider on the chest wall, so while there is less protrusion of the breast, many minimizers end up making women appear thicker in the torso.
Moulded: A moulded cup bra is any bra created on a mould. These are also refered to as seamless bras or T-shirt bras. Moulded cup bras are often thought of as being interchangeable with Contour bras. The difference is that a Contour bra is always made with a formed cup (a cup that stays in the shape of a breast, even when off the body) while a moulded cup can be made from fabric that does not retain its shape. Moulded cup bras can be stretchy, and may not provide as much support for larger-busted women.
Nursing: A nursing bra is designed specifically for women nursing babies. They generally have some means of both supporting the bust and allowing for easy access.
Padded: If you want to enhance your shape, push em up or even out asymmetrical breasts, padded bras can do any (or all) of the above by adding fiber, foam, gel or even air to specific areas of the cup.
Plunge: A bra with a low center, which allows for deeper v-neck clothes, is a plunge bra. Plunge bras are also recognizable by their angled cups, and narrow center gore/bridge. Plunge bras, unlike padded bras, are generally not heavily padded.
Push-Up: Just like the name implies, a push up bra creates lift and cleavage by physically pushing the breasts up and in.
Racerback: Racerbacks are designed to wear under clothes that would otherwise expose bra straps.
Seamed/Cut and Sewn: A bra that is constructed out of pieces that are sewn together to shape and support the breast. Generally speaking, more seams = more support.
Soft Cup: Any bra without an underwire is a soft cup bra. Soft cup bras are designed to fit all shapes and sizes.
Spacer: A relatively new innovation in the bra market, spacer bras feature two separate fabrics knitted independently, and connected by a third, spongy, layer. Spacer bras resemble contour bras, but are lighter and breathable. Because the material is breathable, spacer bras provide less nipple coverage than contour bras.
Sports: First introduced in 1977 as a design featuring two jock straps sewn together, sports bras are designed to provide support during physical activity while protecting the breasts from tissue damage. Sports bras come in two designs, compression and encapsulation. Compression bras compress the breasts, pushing them up against the body. Encapsulation looks more like a standard bra, with a distinctive cup for each breast.
Strapless: A strapless bra is any bra that is designed to be worn without shoulder straps. Generally, strapless bras have something along the inside edges that adhere the bra to the body.