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What are the Different Types of Bras?

By Aniza Pourtauborde
Updated May 21, 2024
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When bras were first developed in the 1920s, they were simply undergarments that provided strong support for women's breasts, preventing problems like sagging breasts and backaches. Today, designers and manufacturers worldwide have added to the value of a bra by offering women close to 20 different styles to fit their needs:

1. Training bra. This type of bra is designed for preteen or teenage girls who are in the early stages of breast development. It is smaller than standard bra sizes, and its cups come without underwire support. Aside from providing some measure of breast support, it helps young girls to become accustomed to wearing a bra.

2. Full cup bra. This bra provides full support, as it comes with underwired cups and covers most of the breasts. It is recommended for all women, and especially for those with heavier breasts.

3. Demi cup bra. A demi cup bra covers only half the breasts, with its cups coming up above the nipples. This bra is suitable to wear with clothes that have plunging necklines. It is supportive, yet provides maximum exposure of the breasts.

4. Padded bra. This bra comes with padding inside the cup linings, adding volume to smaller breasts. Padded bras are popular with teenage girls, who may otherwise stuff their training bras with tissues to make their breasts look fuller.

5. Underwired bra. Bras can come with or without underwire in their cups. An underwired bra provides strong support to the breasts and also maintains the shape of the bra. Some women claim that underwired bras lift their breasts, while others find these bras uncomfortable or painful.

6. Strapless bra. Strapless bras come with no straps or straps that can be removed. This style is very useful for clothes that bare shoulders, such as tube dresses and halter tops.

7. Convertible bra. This bra comes with detachable straps that can be arranged according to one's needs. It is usually worn with clothes that reveal the back and shoulders, such as backless dresses with halter top necklines.

8. T-shirt bra. T-shirt bras are made without a raised seam in order to appear invisible when worn under a body-fitting t-shirt.

9. Minimizer bra. This bra is commonly sought after by large-breasted women who wish to reduce the appearance of their breasts by a cup size or two.

10. Maximizer/Push up bra. These bras lift the breasts and emphasize cleavage through their unique structure and extra padding. The padding may come in various forms, such as water sacks or silicone inserts. The goal is to give a fuller, more natural look to breasts of all sizes.

11. Sports bra. Sports bras are made for active women who engage in rigorous physical exercise. They are designed to be comfortable and supportive by holding the breasts in place during motion, therefore reducing damage to soft tissues of the chest. These bras are usually made of stretchable material to provide a snug fit.

12. Built-in bra. A built-in bra is one that comes with the clothing, eliminating the need for a separate bra. This style can be found attached to the insides of swimsuits and tube tops. Some built-in bras are just horizontal, elastic fabric, but others have padding and underwired cups as well.

13. Shelf bra. This bra covers only the lower part of the breasts, leaving the nipples and upper part of the breasts exposed. It is not supportive and is worn in sexual situations.

14. Peephole bra. A peephole bra features holes around the nipples. Its loose coverage of the entire breasts is insufficient to provide significant support. This type of bra is also worn in sexual situations.

15. Maternity bra. Women's breasts become more sensitive, heavier and larger throughout pregnancy. Maternity bras are adjustable and can expand to take these changes into account.

16. Nursing bra. These bras are worn to ease the breastfeeding process. They are made with flaps that can be unclasped or pushed to the side, keeping the breasts supported during breastfeeding.

17. Mastectomy bra. A mastectomy bra is intended for women who have undergone the removal of one or both breasts due to cancer treatments. Here, the cups are made with pockets to keep breast prostheses in place and simulate the existence of breasts.

Choosing a suitable bra is indeed a challenge these days. One bra does not fit all, and hence, it is best to invest in a good set of bras that cover one's usual range of activities. For instance, a regular jogger should purchase a good sports bra, while a more social woman should spend on convertible bras that fit her many formal evening outfits.

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Discussion Comments
By aholterman — On Dec 26, 2017

Off shoulder and bandeau are also trending nowadays.

By anon326897 — On Mar 25, 2013

My age is 21 and my breasts are too small. Which type of bra should I wear to make my breasts look larger?

By anon315964 — On Jan 26, 2013

I would like to wear a t-shirt bra, but my nipples show. Please suggest a brand that would not do this.

By anon235424 — On Dec 17, 2011

my breast is hanging. what should i do to stay stiff?

By anon191939 — On Jun 29, 2011

@Post 29: I can't think of a single reason not to wear a padded bra, if that's what you want to do. I can't imagine why or how a padded bra could harm your breasts. There's nothing to bother them.

The only side effect I can think of is that, because of the padding, you might be more prone to sweat in a padded bra, which could cause prickly heat or something like that under your breasts. If that happens, get some witch hazel or Sea Breeze and put it under your breasts when you take your bra off.

By anon164266 — On Mar 31, 2011

Are there any side effects of wearing a padded bra? Does it harm the breast?

By anon147407 — On Jan 29, 2011

I'm looking to find the name of the type of bra that also has some 4" - 6" of material which pulls in around the rib cage. I know sounds like a corset, but it is more of a bra.

By anon128994 — On Nov 21, 2010

they're called bandeau bras! they're strapless. i add straps, but I have them in black. When I wear a v shirt or a slightly lower shirt, the bandeau shows and I don't need a tank top anymore! So many places sell these. Macys, Target, anywhere!

By smkelkar — On Nov 14, 2010

a piece of cloth approx. 1 m X 1 m can be used as a bra. It can suffice from 30A to 40-42D size bras. By joining opp. corners over shoulders while wrapping over boobs, it can replace costly bras and still serve purpose of wearing a bra. I have tried it!

Let us achieve cost reduction.

By anon105088 — On Aug 19, 2010

Very good list of bra types. You could also add the Bandini Bra, which can be worn in many ways with convertible straps.

By anon97495 — On Jul 20, 2010

There is always this problem with me. I've used so many types of bras, but my nipples always show. What should I do? I can't go for a padded bra, as I am already a good size.

By anon97256 — On Jul 19, 2010

My size is 34c according to my height. i feel like my breast size is larger. Please help me -- which kind of bra will suit me?

By anon88986 — On Jun 08, 2010

What kind of bra should I wear when I am trying to seduce someone. I have C cups.

By anon65815 — On Feb 16, 2010

i am 18 but my breasts are not in proper shape. what do i do.

By anon59218 — On Jan 07, 2010

@ anon57833: Just ask your mom! She'll understand--especially if she already lets you shave. It's better to have a bra--for protection, security, and confidence. A bra is a woman's best friend!

By anon57833 — On Dec 27, 2009

i am 11 and i want to ask my mom for a bra. me and her have a strong bond but i just asked her if i could start shaving and she said yes but i should think about it so i am not right now. but i am afraid to ask her because she might think i am growing up too fast but all my friends have one so i don't know what to do. help me please! Please respond!

By anon56633 — On Dec 16, 2009

I am a 14 year old male trying to do a history fair project on the innovations and the technological advances of bras. this website helped.

By anon55154 — On Dec 05, 2009

my age is 24 and my breasts are not in the correct position. i mean it's like a 50 year old woman's breasts. i want to lift them up. Please give me suggestions on what should i do for that. Is there any solution?

By anon54011 — On Nov 26, 2009

There is always this problem with me. I've used so many types of bras, but my nipples always show. What should I do? I can't go for a padded bra, as I am already a good size.

By anon51980 — On Nov 10, 2009

i was wondering, what type of bra should i wear? i have these vest tops that i really like but my bra shows on the top. it needs to be supporting and so on or my mum won't let me buy it. :\ coming back please :)

By anon41851 — On Aug 17, 2009

balconette bras show a peep at the top.

By kesh1607 — On Jun 22, 2009

though am wearing t-shirt bra of 'lovable company, my nipples' shapes always appears, what's the solution for it? pls help..

By anon823 — On May 06, 2007

I have been looking for this one type of bra and I can't find anything on it. I heard about it awhile ago and thought it was lovely, now I want one.

It's one that's sort of straight cut over the breasts so the top of it peeks over your shirt (like if it's a low-cut shirt) so it makes it look like you're wearing a cami beneath it.

Do you know where I could find one like that?

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