Different Types of Bras

by Jessica Wright
(last updated April 1, 2015)

It helps to understand all the different types of bras that are available so you can choose the right style and function for your needs. Choosing the right type of bra can help to maintain and support healthy breasts. Not wearing the right type of bra can help to cause sagging breasts and backaches.

Bras have come a long way since they were first introduced in the 1920s. When first introduced, bras were simply a piece of undergarment that was used to give support for a woman's breasts. They have come a long way since then; bras now vary in style, fashion, functionality, and even fabric.

Here are just a few of the basic bras and what they are used for:

  • Training Bra. This is for young girls who are beginning to develop breasts. The bra offers little support, and is used primarily to help young girls become accustomed to wearing a bra.
  • Demi Bra. The demi bra is only a half-cup bra, with wide straps. This bra helps to give more cleavage with less support. This bra is used when wearing low-cut garments, where the bra is not seen.
  • Full Cup Bra. A full cup bra provides the best support for the breasts, due to the use of underwired cups. This type of bra covers most of the breast while helping to maintain the shape of the bra. The full cup bra is what is usually recommended for all women, especially for women with larger breasts.
  • Underwire Bra. This bra gives great support to the breast. The support comes from a wire that is made from either plastic or metal; this wire is what gives the support for the breasts. If the wire breaks it can cause some discomfort and pain as the broken wire can poke the skin.
  • Padded Bra. This is a bra that is padded, inside the lining. This helps to give the illusion of having fuller breasts. Padded bras give support to the breast, but doesn't give much in lifting the breasts.
  • Built-in Bra. This is where a bra is built into the clothing, eliminating the need for another bra. The built-in bra is usually found in clothing such as swimsuits and strapless dresses. There are two types of built-in bras. One is where the bra actually has padding with underwired cups. The other is nothing more than elastic fabric.
  • Maternity Bra. When a woman is pregnant it is not unusual for her breasts to become more sensitive and larger as the pregnancy progresses. Maternity bras are made to give additional support as well as a more adaptable fit as the breasts enlarge.
  • Nursing Bra. A great bra to have if one is breast feeding. They are made to make breast feeding easier, with a flap that can be pushed to one side allowing more privacy during feeding.
  • Mastectomy Bra. A mastectomy bra is used by women who have had one or both of their breasts removed. The bra is built with pockets that hold the breast prostheses in place.
  • T-shirt Bra. The T-shirt bra is designed so there are no raised seams, allowing tight tops to be worn without seeing the bra. There are some T-shirt bras that have padded cups which help to conceal nipples.
  • Sports Bra. A sports bra is used by women who are active with physical exercise. They are designed to help keep the breast in place as well as to support the breast and to keep them snug during the motions of physical exercise. By keeping the breast snug during physical exercise there is less damage to the breasts.
  • Strapless Bra. The strapless bra has no shoulder straps or has straps that can be removed. This bra is used mainly for the purpose of wearing clothes that show bare skin above the breasts.
  • Convertible Bra. Out of all the different types of bras this one is the most versatile. The straps can be detached or rearranged as to fit the need of the wearer. This particular bra is used mainly with clothes that reveal different parts of the back or shoulders.
  • Push-up Bra. This bra lifts the breasts and emphasizes a woman's cleavage. With extra padding the breasts look fuller and more natural.
  • Minimizer Bra. Usually worn by women with large breasts who want to reduce their breast size by one or two cups.

This list only includes the most popular type of bras that are available. With just a little help from a good sales clerk at most department stores you should be able to find the bra that will fit the occasion.

Author Bio

Jessica Wright

Jessica is a communications major studying for her masters and working full time. Growing up in a household of girls, she learned young the fun of trying new beauty ideas. Jessica enjoys playing the piano, dating, and having a good time with family and friends. ...

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