It’s not enough just to know your proper bra size. Bras comes in various styles and shapes with different wardrobe functions. I’ve covered 9 different bra types and who each type is for, so you can learn which one is best for you, and navigate the lingerie department with ease.
Getting dressed used to be cinch when my lingerie drawer was stocked with pretty underthings and functional bras that paired perfectly with my outfits no matter where I was going, or what I was doing. In this post, I’m gonna break down the 9 different bra styles and shapes and what each bra is best used for so you can start to get an idea of what your wardrobe needs so you don’t have to pause and ask: but what bra would I wear with this? That’s the most common question I get in the dressing room when I’m fitting a woman for a special event dress. There’s deep plunging necklines, backless dress styles, halter necklines, spaghetti strap and other styles that simply prohibit the wear of a regular t-shirt bra.
Which One Of These 11 Bra Types and 5 Panty Styles Is Best For You?
Below I’m gonna share with you 9 different types of bra styles and shapes from Bergdorf Goodman’s Betty Halbreich. She covered this in her book, Secrets Of A Fashion Therapist. I’m sharing this valuable resource with you as a part of my Betty Halbreich blog series. She also lists 5 different types of underwear and shares a simple panty fit test so you can be able to tell which underwear is going to be flattering on you, or give you unwanted panty lines.
- Padded: These generally have cups that are padded (either a thin or thick layer evenly all over. Best for: anyone who wants to increase her overall bust size significantly. Also good to wear under tight tops if you want to make sure your nipples don’t show through.
- Push-up: Like the wonderbra, most push-ups are underwire bras with extra pads that slip in for more boost. Be sure to try these on both with and without the extra pads for the right fit. Best for: creating cleavage.
- Demi cup: Rather than a full cup that encloses the entire breast, these underwire bras have half cups, wide-set straps, and work by pushing in from the sides. Best for: enhancing A and B cups who have trouble filling out a cup.
- Underwire: Any bra constructed with curved wires beneath the breasts. Best for: support.
- Soft cup: Any bra constructed without an underwire. They need to fit perfectly or you will have a baggy cup. Best for: A and B cups who don’t want a lot of support.
- Molded cup: These are designed so that the fabric holds to its own shape, and if it’s a sturdy fabric you will get good support and more separation. Best for: C and D cups.
- Seamless: Cups that are completely smooth with no seams at all. Best for: wearing under tight tops.
- Front close: Bras that hook in between the breasts rather than at the back don’t offer as much support because the back hook is more adjustable. Best for: smaller busts or anyone who wants a more natural look.
- Racer back: The straps come together in the back in the style of a racing bathing suit. Best for: wearing under sleeveless clothes that are cut out at the shoulders.
- Strapless: Any bra without shoulder straps. There are also long-line strapless bras (which come down to the waist), which are more comfortable for larger bust sizes. Best for: wearing under any strapless or thin-strapped dress.
- Wrap around: The shoulder straps adjust so you can elongate them, and then they wrap around and hook in the front at the waist. Best for: accommodating low-backed dresses.
What To Look For When You’re Panty Shopping.
Betty Halbreich says, “for the smoothest look, try panties in fabrics like stretch lace, fine cotton, or a sleek microfiber, and here’s a great way to test a pair of panties, especially if you can’t try them on: Take a pair and lay them flat, front side up on a table. If the leg holes sit in flat V’s, chances are the pair will give you a line. If on the other hand, the leg seams are rounded and curl slightly up and in, that means they will form around the natural shape of your behind and be much less likely to present problems.”
She also says, “what you wear is your business, but you should know what your options are when it comes to underthings.”
- Briefs: These are your basic, full-cut, high at the waist, low at the leg underpants.
- French cut: Briefs that are cut very high on the leg.
- Bikinis: These have a waistband that generally hits somewhere around hip level.
- String bikinis: A skimpier version of the bikini– basically two triangles (front and back) connected across the hip with a narrow band of elastic.
- Thongs: Also known as a G-string, the thong is cut down to just a strip of fabric at the back.
Get To Know More About Bergdorf Goodman’s Betty Halbreich.
If you don’t know who Betty Halbreich is, or Bergdorf Goodman’s for that matter, here’s a video you can watch to get to know her a little better. She’s such a delight. I loved reading her memoir, and truly enjoy her tough love take on the fashion industry.
What To Do Next.
Think about what you have in your closet that you tend to pull out and think, I need a X bra to wear this. Insert X with strapless, backless, halter, convertible, etc. A lot of the time we want to venture out and wear different dresses and outfits, but we just don’t know the bras that we need to wear with them. Don’t let that stop you from wearing a jumpsuit or dress that you love. Instead, look for bra solutions according to the style guide above. Trust me, once you are stocked with bras solutions for everything you could ever want to wear, that’s when fashion really becomes fun. You can start your search with bra brands like, Thirdlove, Bare Necessities, or Thistle and Spire.