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A Glossary of Bra Terms and Definitions
– A Well-Rounded Explanation

Are you “looking into” the world of brassieres? Are you concerned about what’ll be revealed and what won’t? Then this glossary of bra terms and definitions will show all. We’ll clarify here the different styles of bras and describe to you, in simple terms, their particular purpose. Because, as you’ll see, there are many types of bras and, when you’re shopping for one, you’ll need to understand the uniqueness of each design. You’ll also need to understand the jargon. So get ready for an education in brassieres, and we’ll hook you up.

  • Average-figure (moderate support) bra
    An average-figure bra offers light to moderate support, with narrow straps, back and sides. They’re usually made from slightly firmer material.
  • Back closure
    A back closure is the part of the bra that hooks together behind the back and consists of two or three rows of hook-and-eye clasps.
  • Banded underwire
    A bra with a banded underwire has an extra piece of fabric below the underwire to give extra control.
  • Bandless underwire
    In a bra with a bandless underwire, the underwire is the bottom of the bra. This look is designed to be more natural.
  • Bra size
    A bra size is made up of a number (in inches), determined by measuring around the body over the largest portion of the breasts (e.g. 34, 36, 38, etc.); and a letter, determined by measuring under the breasts, then calculating the difference between the two numbers (e.g. B, C, D, etc.). Examples of bra sizes would be 34B, 36C (the average size), 38D, etc.
  • Bustier
    A bustier is a one-piece garment that uses flexible boning to give a desired shape. Its length varies, going from the bust, down to anywhere between the rib cage and the hips.
  • Cami bra
    A cami bra is not really a bra, but is a cross between a camisole and a bra, designed to look like a bra.
  • Camisole straps
    Camisole straps are usually found on full-figure bras. They’re actually an extension of the cup, and give a smooth shoulder line.
  • Contour bra
    A contour bra uses fiberfill or foam padding to created a contoured look. It’s also designed not to show, providing a natural look.
  • Convertible bra
    A convertible bra is an innovation that gives a woman flexibility with a single garment. The straps can be worn or detached, or can be criss-crossed in the back like a halter top.
  • Cut and sewn cups
    Cut and sewn cups have seams because they’re made of two or three pieces of material sewn together. The seams will show through clothing.
  • Demi bra
    A demi bra is a low-cut bra that’s designed to enhance the cleavage.
  • Frame
    The frame of a bra holds the cups and sides together, and runs from the center of the bra, around the cups, and around to the sides.
  • Front-close bra
    A front-close bra is just what it sounds like – it uses a front closure, as opposed to a back closure.
  • Full-figured bra
    A full-figured bra is designed for sizes 32-42C, D, or DD, and covers a larger area than average bras. The fabric used is heavier, the straps are wider and sometimes padded for extra comfort.
  • Fully-padded bra
    A fully-padded bra is designed to give a smooth look, meaning it doesn’t show any seams, and uses fiberfill or foam to enhance the size of small breasts by up to a full size.
  • Maternity bra
    A maternity bra provides extra support, and is expandable, using stretch fabric, to grow with the expectant mother as her pregnancy matures.
  • Minimizer bra
    A minimizer bra shapes the breasts outward to reduce projection, while maintaining support.
  • Non-stretch straps
    Non-stretch straps, also known as rigid straps, are usually used for sports bras or full-figured bras.
  • Nursing bra
    A nursing bra is an extra-support bra that comes with removable flaps on the cups, allowing a new mother to nurse her baby without totally removing her bra.
  • Petite-figure bra
    A petite-figure bra is obviously the smallest, for women with smaller busts; they’re made of lightweight stretchy material.
  • Push-up bra
    A push-up bra uses padding and wires to push the breasts up, thus enhancing the cleavage and giving a fuller look.
  • Rings and slides
    Rings and slides are the mechanisms used to adjust the length of the straps, and may be placed in the front or in the back of the bra, depending on how smooth a look is desired.
  • Seamless bra
    A seamless bra uses a single piece of fabric for the cups, so there’s no stitching on the cups, giving an au naturel look.
  • Soft-cup bra
    A soft-cup bra uses elastic under the cups for support, as opposed to wire.
  • Sports bra
    A sports bra, sometimes known as an activity bra, is specially designed to eliminate bounce (as much as possible), for use in any activity that involves a lot of movement. The cotton-lined cups are high at the front and sides for support, and they have a comfort underband with non-curl elastic to stop it from riding up. They may also have a non-slip velcro fastening strap.
  • Strapless bra
    A strapless bra has no shoulder straps, and is especially designed for wear with evening gowns and other sleeveless wear.
  • Stretch straps
    Stretch straps use low-stretch elastic to give more control and comfort, while reducing bounce.
  • Underwire bra
    An underwire bra has a wire that runs under the cups for extra support.
  • Wrap-around elastic band
    In a bra with a wrap-around elastic band, the frame has an elastic band running completely around the bra, keeping it in place. It’s commonly used in sports bras.

That’s our best A-Z explanation of bras. So whether you’re looking for a simple everyday bra, an intimate bra for a spicier look, or a naughty bra for that exciting evening you have planned with your loved one, now you’ll know what to look for.

You can dream you’ll do anything, in your Maidenform bra. Or you can go “fun, flirty and PINK” with Victoria’s Secret. Or you can just get a comfortable but functional Playtex bra. No matter which extreme you decide to go to (or whether you want to just stay in the middle), you can shop with the confidence that you’ll find a bra that’ll fit your need – and fit you, too. Enjoy!

Sexy Lingerie Terms and Definitions About The Author
Gareth Marples is a successful freelance writer providing valuable tips and advice for consumers purchasing plus size lingerie, bras and panties, as well as sexy bridal lingerie and thong bikinis & sexy swimsuits. His numerous articles offer moneysaving tips and valuable insight on typically confusing topics.

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