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What are the Different Bra Styles?

As women, we all have our favorite, go-to padded bra, but there’s a lot of wisdom in the proverb variety is the spice of life

By outfitting your intimate lingerie drawer with various bra styles that are stylish, sexy, and comfortable, you can confidently strut through your days and add a little spice to your nights. But just how do you go about choosing the right selection of bra styles? 

The best place to start is with a strong foundational knowledge of the different bra styles and their best uses. So, if you’re confused about a balconette bra versus a bandeaubra  or a push-up bra versus an underwired bra, read on as we demystify the world of bra types.

The Basic Anatomy of a Bra

Before we delve into the nitty-gritty of different bra styles, let’s take a moment to talk generally about brasserie construction and anatomy elements.1 

Bras may have any or all of the following 4 basic elements:

  • Cups – These are the fabric pieces that make up breast covering.2 Cups can be padded, unpadded, or even nonexistent in certain sexy cupless or open bra styles.
  • Straps – The bra straps hold up the cups. While most women believe that the bra straps create lift for their breast tissue, this isn’t true. Your straps should be loose enough to pass a finger underneath and they should never dig into your shoulder.
  • Bridge, Frame, and Band – Together, the bridge, frame, and band of a bra make up the majority of the undergarment’s functional parts. These are the elements that create the lift and support of the bra.
  • The bridge is a piece of fabric that holds the cups together
  • The frame is the front of the bra beneath the cups and bridge
  • The band runs along the sides and back of the bra
  • Clasp – Although a few styles of bras are made to pull over the head, most bras have a hook-and-eye clasp holding the two sides of the band together with up to three tightness levels. While it can be tempting to blindly strap your regular bra at whatever setting you hit first, this can lead to your moulded bra stretching out quickly. A good padded  bra maintenance idea is to consistently hook your clasp to the smallest setting and expand it only on more tender, PMS-bloated days.

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Style #1: The Classic Underwire Bra

One of the most popular bra styles, the classic underwired bra features a shoulder strap, a wired covered cup for each breast, and a clasp either in the front or back. This is your basic, supportive bra.

Style #2: Bandeau, Strapless, and Tube Bras

A bandeau—once called an apodesmos by female Greek athletes and sometimes called a tube bra today—is the simplest of undergarments. Lacking underwires, separate cups, straps, and even a clasp, this stretchy strip-of-fabric bra will be the least complicated in your lingerie drawer. 

However, it could easily become your best bra for the following reasons:

  • No straps, clasps, or wires means nothing to poke or prod you
  • It’s cool and breezy for summer days or nights
  • It’s easy to pull on and off, slipping over the head
  • In darker colors, it can double as a summer top

Due to the bandeau’s lack of support, it’s important to mention that this bra style is best suited for those who typically wear A or B cups.

Bandeau Versus Strapless

If every bandeau is strapless, is every strapless bra a bandeau? Nope! In fact, pretty much the only thing that a bandeau and a strapless bra have in common is that neither have straps. 

A strapless bra is usually far more structured than a bandeau, with cups, a clasp, and even boning to give it shape, lift, and hold. Where a bandeau bra is great for a casual summer look, a strapless bra is what you’ll reach for to go under a sexy spaghetti-strap summer dress or a formal bare-shouldered look.

Style #3: Racerbacks and Sports Bras

Many athletic or sports bras are racerback brastyle, meaning the separate front straps come together in the back to form a single strap. However, bra experts have begun to question whether this is a healthy cut since it puts extra pressure on the next and shoulder muscles during strenuous exercise.3

This doesn’t mean that a racerback style isn’t useful for pairing with a tank top or narrow-shouldered look for everyday wear. You may even already own a racerback if you have a convertible bra in your lingerie drawer—a bra that has straps which can be detached in back, allowing them to reattach in either a racerback or halter configuration.

Style #4: Balcony or Balconette Bras

A balcony bra (also called a balconette bra, depending on nothing more than your regional dialect) refers to a bra style that features a straight across profile along the cups. Like an underwire bra, these are popular and flattering on all breast tissue shapes.

Style #5: Bralette

Bralettes are quickly becoming the darling of the work-from-home bra world.4 This is because they don’t feature:

  • Clasps
  • Cups
  • Padding
  • Wires
  • Pinching
  • Squeezing
  • Poking

This makes a bralette the perfect comfy seamless bra to slip under a tee or buttondown top on a casual afternoon at home. They’re a great choice if your breasts are small and perky, but can leave you feeling a little low if your breasts tend to be on the larger or mature side.

Style #6: Halter Bra

Like a halter top, a halter bra is one that straps around the neck, leaving the mid-and-upper back completely exposed. This provides a sexy style, especially when paired with matching panties or when featuring a subtly stretchy textile like:

  • Lace
  • Satin
  • Silk
  • Velvet

Style #7: Up or Down Bras

Whether you want your breasts high or your cut low, there is a right bra suited to your desire. Two bras that can accentuate your breasts in different but equally sensual ways are the plunge bra and the push-up bra.

The Plunge Bra

Curious about what is a plunge bra? This bra Generally worn in combination with a dress or blouse featuring a deep v-cut or plunging neckline, a plunge bra has a minimal bridge and steeply angled cups.

The Push-Up Bra

Maximizing your breast size, a push-up bra utilizes padding and a strong framework to push your breasts upwards and together.

Getting The Best Bra Fit

No matter what shape or combination of elements your bra type takes, your bras should always be well-fitting.5 Many women don’t know how to correctly size their bras and, thus, blame the bra type for any discomfort when it’s actually the fit that’s wrong.6 

Whether you choose to wear a racerback bra maternity bra, sports braor any other bra on this list, making sure it fits correctly is the key to comfort. Getting a professional bra fitting at a lingerie shop is the absolute best way to know your size, but there are also steps you can take at home to ensure a well-fitting bra.

  • Measure Your Band Size – Use a soft or fabric tape measure to measure 1 inch underneath your breasts and around your back, leaving a finger-width of slack in the tape. The resulting measurement is your band size.
  • Measure Your Cup Size – With a soft or fabric tape measure, measure around your back and over your nipples. Subtract your band size from this number. If the difference is 1 inch, you’re an A cup. If the difference is 2 inches, you’re a B cup. Three inches is a C cup. If you’re larger than a C-cup, it’s best to seek out a professional measurement, as this will be more precise.

Understanding Your Breast Type 

Knowing your breast type will also help you zero in on the best bras to add to your collection.7 This is because some bras are better suited for certain breast types. 

Breast type basically refers to the shape of your breasts. Generally, experts talk about nine different categories of breast shape, although your breasts may actually fall between the lines of more than one type (so don’t get too hung up on this). The 9 basic categories include: 

  • Asymmetric – One breast is larger than the other.
  • Athletic – Trim, wide-set, and noticeably muscular, athletic breasts don’t have a lot of fat or tissue in or around them.
  • Bell – Like their namesake, these breasts are thinner at the top and expand to be fuller at the bottom. This is a common shape for women with large breasts.
  • East-West – These breasts are wide-set with nipples that point outward.
  • Relaxed – These breasts are longer and usually have downward facing nipples.
  • Round – Symmetrically circular, these breasts are round with nipple placement in the center.
  • Side-set – The hallmark of a pair of side-set breasts is the wide area between them.
  • Slender – Longer and thinner, these breasts have downward-pointed nipples.
  • Teardrop – These breasts are the middle ground between Round and Bell. They’re usually full and round at the bottom but descend from a narrower top.

Curate Your Bra Collection with Gooseberry Intimates

Adding different sexy bras to your intimates collection can likewise add a little spice, elegance, and glamor to your everyday. But when shopping for bras, understanding the various styles is only part of ensuring a sexy, comfy fit. Bra quality and construction can make a significant difference to both the look and feel of your bra. 

At Gooseberry, all of our bras are designed to be as gorgeous as French architecture, but as comfortable as your reliable go-to. From balconettes to underwires, Gooseberry bras are hand dyed, cut, and sewn to order assuring you both unsurpassable quality and a comfortable, form-flattering fit. Curate your bra collection with Gooseberry today. 



  1. MasterClass. A Guide to Bras.
  2. Cloth Habit. Get to Know Bra Anatomy.
  3. Vox. Why Are Sports Bras So Terrible?
  4. Vox. The Pandemic Didn’t Kill The Bra.
  5. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sports. Optimizing Breast Support in Female Patients Through Correct Bra Fit.
  6. European Journal of Aging. The Influence of Ageing on Bra Preferences.
  7. Real Simple. How To Find the Best Bra for Your Breast Shape.
  8. Oxford Reference. Variety is the spice of life.

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