Millie Wonders Blog Blog Bra Styles Explained
Bra and panty styles illustration

Bra Styles Explained

The last blog I provided some information about bra fitting and I mentioned that there are different styles of bras and different breast shapes and sometimes we may need to match our shape to the right style to get the best out of our bras. Understanding the manufacturing process and the shape and/or size of the wires can really help with bra fitting. So, in this blog I am writing a little about bra styles. There is a huge variety of styles and descriptions so I may not mention every single one of them but I will mention the ones we come across frequently and what is also commonly available on the website to help you with your lingerie journey of happiness.
Please feel free to contact us if you would like to chat some more about bra sizes and fittings.

A Padded Bra

– contains padding or pockets for padding intended to add fullness to the bust, making breasts look larger, fuller and firmer. Normally the padding is at the base of the cup to help lift the breast however there can be a light padding throughout the cup. This light padding can help hide nipple show but this is not the main reason for the padding. They may come in a variety of styles such as push up, demi cup or t-shirt bras. The most common type of padding is with foam but some padded bras may come with silicone rubber, gels or liquids (the latter intending to provide the ability to shape like real breasts). Inserts can be removable and this may provide a solution to those who have different sized breasts, for example, you may need the padding for one breast but not the other and this will help create a balanced look. Having one breast larger than the other is not uncommon so please do not feel uneasy about this.

A Contour or Molded Bra

-although technically slightly different the terms are used interchangeably and can also be referred to as t-shirt bras. Let me briefly explain the difference for your understanding. As the name suggests a moulded bra has been moulded usually with synthetic fibres over a breast shape to give its defined shape and the final piece provides the cup of the bra which is seamless and smooth. There is a two part process to this type of bra making. The popular t-shirt bra and sometimes push up bras are made in this way. The purpose is to provide a sculpted look to the breast shape without any seams showing through clothes.

A contour bra is a type of moulded bra with a thin layer of foam which has had its popularity for “nipple coverage”, although I may beg to differ that it may be just marketing hype to buy that type of bra, as we have seen a decline in trends for the demand of the contour bra and have moved on to the bralette style, but we can commend the contour bra to help provide a specific shape to the breasts. Although sometimes referred to as a t-shirt bra please note that t-shirt bras are seamless and do not have any other added materials over them where as a contour bra can sometimes have more than one seam for added breast support and lace or other materials for decoration.

Contour bra

Push Up Bras

-are just that, they push your breasts up and together to provide cleavage. The padding may be built in or have removable inserts which may also provide solutions for the final look of the breast shape depending on whether the desired look is for added volume or cleavage or both. This too can assist those with one breast larger than the other as the padding may be needed only for the smaller breast. Sometimes confused with the plunge bra and to explain the difference in simple terms a plunge bra does push the breasts up and together but the cups joining in the centre are normally lower and the centre piece joining the bra together can be thinner. This is in order to allow the wearing of clothes with a lower neckline, which can be worn without the show of the bra, in other words, they are great for showing off the cleavage. These bras are characterised by the shape of the underwire which takes on a rather banana looking shaped underwire.

I mentioned above that the contour bra may help with “nipple coverage” which may the reason why some of us  gave up of the soft cup bra. But I would like to say from personal experience of wearing soft cup bras I do not have this problem. In fact, I would need to be extreme cold weather for this issue to occur and as I do not wear tight fitting T-shirts therefore I do not have much need for contour bras. For those who do resist a soft cup bra for this reason but would like to wear them I can always recommend to try a nipple pad or pasties under the bra. This would be a personal choice and whether you are comfortable and are not irritated by them. My other reason for my unloving opinion on the contour bra is that I just do not feel comfortable wearing them, but this my experience and yours can be justifiably different. You may need to bend forward whilst wearing one to be sure the breasts do not fall out when checking your bra fit.

Plunge and push up bra

The soft cup bra

-is a personal favourite of mine for everyday wear, I couldn’t live without a soft cup bra post maternity and whilst running after toddlers, but what I like about them is that they are versatile in the making process when accommodating the breast shape (and in some cases body type) in order to provide support, even those with a full breast may find a style that suits with the current efforts of the industry who have finally realised that women with larger breast sizes need more choice too. But not to worry if you do need an underwire, there are plenty of other options. Not only may soft cup bras provide a wealth of play with cut but I can see the trend with this bra in the many styles they come in and the play is with fabrics, design and artistic flair. A bra lovers’ dream! For those of you who do not like underwire bras or have allergic reactions to them, a soft cup bra is recommended to try and I can’t wait to see more styles picking up with the times and becoming modernised with more fashion sense as we go on our lingerie journey into the future.

The trend has already begun with the ever so popular bralettes and  triangle bras and even sports bras are gaining more fashion sense and becoming lingerie as outerwear. But keep in mind that bralettes and triangle bras are designed for smaller breasted women and do not offer much support, although some brands are now producing bralettes to accomodate larger breasted women. So, what defines a soft cup bra? In general, they have no wires, they are designed to give you support, they may feature multi part cups, inner slings, a leotard back, wide straps and thicker bands, from long-line bras to sports bras. They are great for every day wearing for those who value comfort and support. Styles also include nursing bras and maternity bras, medical and surgical bras, full cups and minimizers.

triangle bra and bralette

Did I say soft cup bras are without underwire? Yes I did and I know what you may be thinking I have many underwire bras on the website described as a soft cup bra. You can have a soft cup bra with an underwire and whilst technically speaking a soft cup is without the underwire, the terminology to describe an underwire bra as a soft cup is to differentiate between the slightly firmer material used with other bras such as the contour bra or padded bra. Really, the true description is an underwire soft cup bra but as you can tell from the picture and/or the product description whether the bra has an underwire or not I do not think I need to keep spelling it out.

An underwire bra

-utilizes a semi- circular strip of rigid material from metal, plastic or resin and is sewn into the cup. The wires used for different styles of bras may also be different. For example, a balcony bra or shelf bra (can also be characterised as a strapless bra) will have an underwire that is the same height on each end to help provide a lifting support. These are a good choice for breast shapes where there is more fullness at the bottom of the breast and not much fullness at the top (e.g. a tear shape breast). For those who require slightly more lift or have sloping shoulders and need to keep bra straps in place a racer back bra in a soft cup bra or an underwire bra can also help with this issue, in this design the straps meet at the back to make a Y or T shape and are great to wear under clothes where you may need to hide straps on the shoulder. Sometimes they come with a front closure which can assist situations when fastening to the back is difficult, however do be sure with front closure bras that the band really is snug on the first fit as bras tend to stretch with wear and tear as the front closure clasp is not like the three hook fastening where the bra band can be made tighter by using the inner hook.

As mentioned before, the plunge bra has an underwire that imitates the shape of a banana which helps to provide the upward and central push. A full cup wire will have one end of the wire longer than the other, typically the end toward your armpit will be longer in order to provide the support for the fuller breast or should we say to assist in providing the forward projection. There are more types of wires for bras such as a monowire, separators and over – wires and they all serve a purpose so I will blog more about bra wires and the styles they come in but for now, we’ll keep to the basics. The purpose of an underwire is to offer support and they should not cause discomfort. Most of the discomfort or complaints that is caused from an underwire bra may be from an improper fit however we cannot completely rule out allergies or other issues.

Underwire bras


Moving on to cut and sewn bras, seamed and 3 part bras.

The purpose of a cut and sewn bra is in the way the pieces of fabric are sewn at various angles in order to provide a better fitted cup. These styles of bras may also be referred to as an underwire soft cup bra. Whilst they are a staple of the lingerie industry, I love cut and sewn bras for the simple reason that you can really do so much with fabrics and designing a truly beautiful bra using this technique, personally anything that includes different fabrics and the use of embroidery to make artistic pieces is really heaven for me. (Add a harness or a choker and that will make my day). The downside of this style is that sometimes the seams may be seen through clothes so consider the clothing fabrics you predominantly wear. Clothing with thicker fabrics will be generally ok, however come the summer months it is more likely that lighter fabrics such chiffons and light cottons may be worn. Think about what to wear when going out to the shops to try on bras.

A common type of the cut and sewn bra is where there is one horizontal seam across the middle of the cup and one vertical seam going down creating a T shape within the cup. This along with the fabric helps the cup conform to the breast so the dreaded gaping can be avoided and can be a great fit for larger breasted women. Other ways cut and sewn bras are made is with either a single vertical seam, a horizontal seam, a combination of both or a combination of diagonal seams. Without going into too much detail behind the reasons of each seam in simple terms it is these that help provide the shape of the cup to give us the right fullness within our cups and can even provide the push up effect without needing a push up bra. So, next time you worry about seams showing through clothes just remember it is these seams that give us our bust a beautiful shape.

Cut and sewn bras

This is my overview on some bra styles we most frequently come across and I hope this helps you to understand a little more about bras and why we may choose certain styles or even if you are unhappy with your current bra may this blog help you on your next journey to finding a new bra more suited to your shape. I could keep writing as there is so much more involved in the process of bra making and breast shapes but I’ll save some for another blog.  If you have enjoyed reading a little about bra styles and would like keep up to date with our blogs, special offers or feel the need for more personalised content, please feel free to subscribe to our newsletter and we can stay in touch.


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