Bras have a bad rap.
Memes all over the Internet show women whipping off their “boob prisons” the minute they step home, wearing a look of sheer bliss that can be only akin to stepping into a Sephora with everything at 50% off.
But bras offer more than just support and nipple coverage – it enhances your figure and can give you that secret confidence boost only a well-fitted bra can.
Navigate the confusing world of lingerie with us here, and never feel trapped again.
What it is: front-closure silicone or cloth cups with an adhesive underside that sticks onto your boobs, offering coverage and cleavage boost.
Who is it for: adhesive bras are available in different cup sizing too, so its suitable for all women! It’s particularly handy if you’re wearing a backless number, or simply can’t be bothered to wear a normal bra.
Tip: no matter how adhesive a brand promises to be, it can and will slip if you get too sweaty so avoid wearing these for sports or if you’re going to be out dancing in an outdoor environment for a long period of time.
What is it: basically a type of demi cup bra, balconette bras feature low-cut cups that allow you to wear fairly low cut clothing. Unlike a demi bra, a balconette bra usually has a more horizontal line along the top of the cups, with an underwire and straps that are set quite widely apart. It is also commonly known as the balcony bra.
Who is it for: this is the perfect bra for all your scoop neck tops and dresses with low, square necklines.
Tip: if you’re looking to boost your girls, add bust enhancers directly underneath your boobs (as opposed to the sides) to give the tops of your breasts a firmer, rounded appearance.
What is it: shaped like a strip across your boobs, the bandeau bra is a cross between a tube top and a strapless bra. Usually made from a stretchy fabric that doesn’t have a fastening in the back, and often comes with detachable straps.
Who is for: women with smaller chests that don’t require full bra support.
Tip: opt for padded bandeaus so as to give your chest some shape. This comfortable style is a great alternative to regular bras and can be worn under most clothing. Choose a fun colour or pattern and wear under a lower cut top for a layered look.
What is it: a bralette is basically a bra that has no cups or underwire, similar to a sports bra but with less support. They tend to have thin or lacy straps and is often made from thinner fabrics, making them more comfortable that regular bras.
Who is it for: women with smaller chests up to a C cup, as a bralette doesn’t provide a lot of support. It’s a great off-day bra, and we like wearing them for errand runs.
Style tip: opt for a bralette in a heavier fabric with more structure, and it can easily double as a top for beach vacations or under a blazer for work! Pair with a high waist bottom to minimize the amount of skin you’re showing, if you choose to wear it in an office environment. Alternatively, wear them under a wifebeater for a little peek-a-boo fun.
What is it: fuss-free and perfect for ladies who dislike wearing regular bras, built-in bras are exactly as they are called – built into everything from t-shirts to tank tops to camisoles. Supportive cups are stitched into the top and doesn’t require an additional bra.
Who is for: women who dislike wearing regular bras or travelers going on a longer trip who want to pack light and avoid having to do too much laundry overseas.
Tip: because of the delicate nature of these type of tops, you should hand wash them instead of using a washing machine to prolong its longevity.
What is it: think a shelf for your boobs, usually featuring just an underwire and frame with no cups, allowing the nipples to show. It’s a form of erotic lingerie usually reserved for sexy time.
Who is it for: women looking to spice up bedroom time
Tip: wear these beneath your night gowns or under a sultry bedroom set and surprise your partner. Complete the look with a matching underwear set and a garter belt.
What is it: shaped from fabric and a thin layer of foam, these bras hold their shape whether you have them or not. The cups are shaped from one piece of material, meaning they are seamless across the cup. The popular T-shirt bras and push up bras are often made with this type of cup.
Who is it for: women wearing thin or tight fitting clothing. The seamless appearance of the bra ensures your silhouette is smooth around the bust.
Tip: while you should never machine wash your bras anyway, this is particularly true for contour bras given the foam that can quickly go out of shape if not handled properly. Hand wash and lay flat to dry.
What is it: this extremely versatile number is a must for every girl. Also known as the multiway bra, they come with straps that come off and have hooks so you can re-attach them in different ways to suit your clothes without the straps showing. From halter to cross-back to low-back, the possibilities are endless.
Who is it for: every and any woman who owns tops that would expose conventional bra straps, and require more support than an adhesive or strapless bra.
Tip: while most convertible bras allow for a classic bra shape, halter neck and cross-back configuration, you should check with the sales assistant to see what other configurations are available. In modern times, we’ve seen less common strap options (such as those that cross in the front or asymmetrically), so check the tags and if not, the slots to see what other configurations the bra allows for.
What is it: similar to a balconette bra, a demi cup bra cuts low (usually just above the nipple) and plunges quite low, with shoulder straps that are set wider apart than regular bras. The word ‘demi’ means half in French, hence they are also sometimes called ‘half-cup’ bras.
Who is it for: as the tops of the cups are low and straps are far apart, this is a great bra to wear under low cut, scoop neck and wider neckline tops. They are more suited if you have firmer breasts that don’t require too much support.
Tip: because these cut especially low, you must ensure they fit perfectly, lest you accidentally nip slip! To ensure the perfect fit, check that your boobs are not overflowing and you should be able to fit 1 finger between the front strap and your body.
What is it: as the name suggests, a full cup bra is designed to cover and support the entire breast. These offer the most support and are a popular choice with women with large cup sizes. As they are designed to give more support, shoulder straps also tend to be wider.
Who is it for: women with larger busts looking for more support than a demi cup would provide.
Tip: ensure the full cup bra you pick comes with a stretchy fabric so that it hugs your curves perfectly. Do note that because these bras cut higher than most, you’ll probably not be able to wear lower cut tops or dresses with them.
What is it: a bra with hooks or eyes in the front rather than at the back, allowing for a smooth, seamless back. Front closure bras pull your boobs towards the front, supporting from the sides and bottom.
Who is it for: women who hate fumbling around their backs to hook their bras! This style of bra is also great for women with bigger busts as they provide plenty of support. If you have wider set breasts, this style of bra is also ideal as it helps draw your boobs towards the center.
Tip: as front closure bras do not allow you to adjust the band size, the perfect fit is crucial! Have a professional measure you and ensure that the band is lying straight across your back and doesn’t bend into a curve.
What is it: a bra with a strap that loops around your neck, like a traditional halter neck. This style of bra provides more support than a strapless bra and is ideal if you’re wearing a halter neck top.
Who is it for: women who have to wear halter necks and are looking for more support. This style is ideal if you have a smaller chest, as those with bigger boobs might find the strap cutting uncomfortably into the neckline after prolonged wear.
Tip: you can find plenty of comfortable bralettes with a halter neck design, or opt for a multi-way bra that allows you to easily switch from halter to strapless should the skin around your neck become irritated after awhile.
What is it: these are full cup bras with pockets inside the cups to insert breast forms (prosthesis) and are designed for women who have undergone breast removal surgery. Some are even designed to be worn specially during the recovery process post-surgery.
Who is it for: women who have undergone breast removal surgery.
Tip: if you require a mastectomy bra, first check with your doctor to see where you can properly fitted. These bras can be pricey, so some women opt to convert a regular bra by adding an additional pocket to fit their breast forms.
What is it: as the name suggests, this is a bra designed for pregnant women. During pregnancy, your ribcage will expand, as will your cup size, and chances are, you’ll require a bra that is both comfortable and supportive. Maternity bras tend to be made of a softer material with no underwire.
Who is it for: pregnant or nursing women
Tip: nursing bras and maternity bras are more often than not, the same thing, as designers these days tend to incorporate features for breastfeeding and pregnancy into 1 bra. A nursing bra features drop down cups or clips that allow you to easily breastfeed, but as not all maternity bras are nursing bras, you should check before purchasing.
What is it: Minimiser bras are designed to downsize your bust measurement by about 1-2 inches, depending on the brand. The cups offer full coverage and are usually made of elasticated fabric that help to compress your boobs while still offering a nice silhouette.
Who it it for: women with larger breasts who want them to appear smaller.
Tip: you don’t need to have massive boobs to wear a minimiser! If some of your tops just look better if your chest was slightly smaller, then this is the bra for you. It is particularly useful if your button up shirts tend to gape at the chest. Do note that these are usually full cups, so lower cut tops might not be an option with these bras.
What is it: funky bras in unusual designs featuring all kinds of detailing from studded spikes to stick-on plushies to cones (think Katy Perry in ‘Firework’). These are definitely not meant for the office!
Who is it for: perfect for any kind of dress up event, such as Halloween.
Tip: depending on the chosen design, this style of bra can be a good alternative to skimpy bikini tops at pool or beach parties! Just ensure that the material is water-friendly, and style with a sarong or high waist linen pants for a chic, resort vibe.
What is it: designed to enhance your girls and give them a bigger, and fuller appearance, push-up bras are usually padded with silicone, water or fabric at the sides or bottom to help lift your boobs while drawing them together for a sexy cleavage.
Who is it for: women with smaller chests looking to enhance their cleavage and give the appearance of larger breasts.
Tip: not all push up bras are made equal. Some come with removable pads and some have gel padding that’s already moulded into the cups. Take your time shopping around for one as different brands offer different ahem, amplification. Push up bras with gel padding mimic the appearance of natural boobs and are usually the go-to choice.
What is it: similar to a push up bra, a padded bra has padding in the base of the cup and is designed to life your breast. It can also refer to a light padding throughout the cup to hide your nipples.
Who is it for: women looking to achieve a smooth bust line appearance when wearing tighter tops, or increase the appearance of their boobs.
Tip: padded bras come in a variety of styles from t-shirt bras to demi cups to push ups. While they are designed to make your boobs look bigger, always buy one in the size you’d usually wear.
What is it: these are bras designed for tops with a lower neckline, and usually have cups that join low below the breasts with a thin centerpiece. The straps for these style of bras are usually set wider apart.
Who is it for: women who need support and don’t want to go braless or depend on adhesives when wearing a lower cut top.
Tip: these bras can also be push up bras, so take note when you are shopping! Also, because the cut is so low, avoid buyinh this style of bras online as you’d want the perfect fit to prevent your boobs from spilling out the front.
What is it: often used on sports bras, although you can find racer back styles with regular bras too, this style is designed with a racer back and is very supportive, ensuring that the straps won’t fall down your shoulders even with a wide range of movement.
Who is it for: women who don’t want straps showing whilst wearing racerback tops, or if you’re going to be more active during the day but prefer not to be constricted by a sports bra.
Tip: a racer back bra is easy to replicate even with regular bras. If you don’t feel like splashing out money just for this style, look for racer back hooks that allow you to easily convert regular bras.
What is it: with the advent of atheleisure, we don’t really need to tell you what a sports bra is! Designed exactly for sports, sports bra offer the most support and ensure your boobs don’t bounce all over the place even if you’re participating in extreme sports.
Who is it for: women engaging in any physical activity, or prefer the comfort of a sports bra over a regular bra.
Tip: depending on the kind of sports you are doing, choose the sport bra designed for that. For example, yoga calls for a sports bra that allows for a greater range of motion, while running might call for a compression type sports bra with breathable fabric. Whatever your needs, always do the ‘bounce test’ before purchasing. Jump up and down, and side to side to see if the bra does indeed, provide the support you need.
What is it: basically a bra that has no straps and often comes with an underwire and side boning for added support. These style of bras usually come with detachable straps, which is excellent as you’re essentially getting 2 types of bras for the price of 1!
Who is it for: ideal but not limited to women with smaller or firmer breasts that do not require as much support
Tip: the fit is especially important with strapless bras as all the supports comes from the band and not so much the cups. Look for one that fits snugly, but isn’t too tight and doesn’t feel firm across the top of the cups as it will cause bulging. Getting an experienced bra fitter for this particular style is recommended, and look for a strapless bra that features silicone grips along the side bands for a better hold.
What is it: a glamour bra usually made of lace, chiffon or other sheer materials (hence its name). This style of bra often provides little support with no underwire, making it a good bra for home wear or bedroom play time.
Who is it for: women who want to give their boobs a break from regular bras!
Tip: this style of bra is especially delicate, as they usually feature lace or some other equally fragile material. Always hand wash these types of bras to extend their wearability and ensure they don’t go out of shape.
What is it: these bras are slightly padded with a soft foam and are designed to give support without an underwire. The support comes from the underband and are highly suitable for everyday wear.
Who is it for: all women who are allergic to underwires, or are unable to find a good fitting bra with underwires due to breast shape or tissue distribution.
Tip: for women with fuller breasts, look for a soft cup bra that with wider shoulder and side straps to ensure proper support. Soft cup bras come in a number of styles and are easily available in most lingerie stores.
What is it: also called a starter bra, first bra and even bralette, this bra is a lightweight piece designed for girls who have just begun developing breasts. These bras were first introduced in the 1950s and are usually made of cotton or lycra with thin elastic straps to keep the piece in place.
Who is it for: young girls entering puberty whose nipples have started protruding and require some coverage
Tip: ensure that the fabric is soft and comfortable to prevent chaffing, as a girl who is just starting to wear a training bra might not get used to the material at the beginning.
What is it: similar to most bikinis, these bras are designed with triangular shaped cups and is meant to provide more coverage than support, although you might be able to find some with pockets that allow you to insert pads.
Who is it for: women who are looking for a comfortable option to regular bras.
Tip: these days, it’s incredibly easy to find pretty triangle bras that can add an extra oomph to your outfit. Allow your triangle bra to peek out subtly under button up shirts or low cut v-neck t-shirts for a tastefully, sexy look.
What is it: fitted with an underwire stitched into the fabric beneath the cups, these bras are designed for better support and endurance and help keep boobs in place.
Who is it for: women looking for extra support and a slight lift.
Tip: there is a common myth that underwire bras can cause breast cancer, although this is totally untrue! Underwire bras might be more uncomfortable, so when shopping for one, pick one that has more fabric where the wires are.
What is it: specially designed for ultra-low cut necklines, these are a cross between a plunge bra and a demi bra, with support coming mostly from the sides. Most U Plunge bras also come with an underwire and side boning.
Who is it for: if you are wearing a dress that has a particularly low front and your boobs are not high or firm enough for just nipple tape, then consider a U Plunge bra.
Tip: you might want to wear extra fashion tape to prevent any possible wardrobe malfunctions, depending on the cut of your dress.