There are many brassiere or bra styles available for women to choose from, but two of the most common are demi-cup bras and full coverage bras. A full coverage bra is exactly what it sounds like: a bra designed to cover and support the entire breast. A demi bra, on the other hand, is cut out so that the upper portion of the breast is exposed. Both bras have advantages and disadvantages, and the decision about what kind of bra to buy can sometimes be difficult.
The most primary concern when buying a bra is fit. If a bra does not fit comfortably, it can be painful and look unsightly. A properly fitting bra should have straps which fit smoothly and snugly along the body. The rear strap should not pucker or ride up, and you should be able to stick your finger between the front strap and your skin. The shoulder straps should not dig into your shoulders, and on an underwire bra, the underwire should not gouge your breasts.
Style is also an important issue for many women when buying a bra. A wide variety of colors and materials are available, depending on choice. You may want to think about your needs before going out to try on bras. Cotton, for example, is often more comfortable and easy to wash. Silk and satin allow fabrics to flow more smoothly over them, while lace is often regarded as sexy. Bras often come with matching underwear or other coordinating garments for use as lingerie, and you may want to think about color coordinating your bras with other clothing or underwear.
Full coverage bras tend to be more practical and less stylish or sexy, although a growing number of companies are adding more style to their options. For larger breasted women and nursing mothers, a bra that offers full coverage is a must, since a demi bra will not usually provide the necessary support. This style also covers the nipples fully, ensuring modesty in thin tops, and will support the breasts for comfort throughout the day.
Demi bras can be worn on a daily basis by smaller breasted women. They are also very useful for low cut tops, in which the top of a full coverage bra would otherwise show through. Caution should be taken when buying a bra that exposes part of the chest, however, because if it does not fit properly, the breasts may appear bulgy or cut off. When trying on a demi bra, pull a shirt on over it to see how the fabric drapes. If you would prefer that your nipples be covered when wearing a bra, seek out one with more coverage. This type of bra should not be worn for athletic activity.