Bra Glossary

Understanding Bra Terminology

© 2008 Intimate Guide

Scroll through the Intimate Guide Bra Glossary below, or choose a letter of the alphabet to jump to that location within the glossary. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, email me at rachel @ intimateguide . com (without the spaces) or Tweet to me @intimateguide and I’ll help you out!

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Adhesive Bra: Uses medical-grade adhesive to stick to your body. May be one piece or 2 separate cups. Provides minimal support, but often leaves little bra to be seen under low cut or backless clothing.
Air Filled Bra: see Liquid Filled Bra
Back Fat: The horrible name given to flesh which protrudes around the edges of a bra in back. This is often caused by wearing a bra with the band size being too small. This lumpiness can sometimes be eliminated with the right size and style of bra. A wider bra back along with wide straps can help smooth the appearance of lumps. Shapewear camisoles may also offer a solution.
Backless Bra: Either has no band in back or dips low in the back to not show under backless clothing. (one example shown under Halter bra)
Balcony Bra, Balconnet Bra, Balconette Bra:Balcony BraRefers to how the bra cups are cut. Similar to a demi cup bra, the cups of a balcony bra do not provide full coverage over the breast and are cut in a horizontal line across the top of the bust. Herroom says, “The name balconette comes from men in the balcony of a theater looking down upon women. A balconette bra could not be seen from above.”
Bandeau Bra: A strapless band of fabric worn around the bust line. Bandeau Bra
Basque: A long-line bra extending to the hips with garter hooks attached along the lower edge. A Merry Widow is a form of basque. Basque
Boning: Thin plastic or metal strips used to give more structure to a garment. Usually incorporated into a vertical seam.
Bralette: An unlined, soft cup or no cup bra that resembles a short cami. Similar to a bandeau bra, with straps. Bralette
Bullet Proof: A bra with enough padding in the cups to prevent nipples from showing through.
Bustier, Longline: A bra with additional fabric extending down to the waist or hip. May include garters, boning or lace-up closing. Often worn under formal gowns. Bustiers are sometimes incorrectly called corsets.
Center Gore: See Gore
Cleavage Bra, Plunge Bra, Décolleté Bra: A bra with a center gore that dips low in front between the breasts so that your cleavage and not your braare seen under low-cut garments. Creates the appearance of increased cleavage with a deep (plunging) front, angled cups and narrow center gore.(Cleavage is also a noun used to describe the vertical line between a woman’s breasts. Décolleté is also a noun used to describe a woman’s chest area above her bustline and below her neck – where most necklaces lay.)
Comfort Straps: Comfort Straps are wider than average bra straps and are usually padded or lined to be more comfortable on your shoulders.
Compression Bra: A compression bra presses the breast tissue (or compresses it) against the chest to reduce motion. Usually refers to a sports bra.
Contour Bra: see Molded Bra
Convertible Bra, Convertible Straps, Multiway Bra:Convertible BraRefers to bras with straps that fully or partially detach and can be worn multiple ways. Usually the straps have small hooks that can disconnect and reattach in different forms. Some convertible configurations include: conventional, halter, one-shoulder, off-the-shoulder, criss-crossed and strapless.
Cookies, Cutlets, Cupcakes: A pad made of fiberfill, water, oil or gel that you can insert in the cup of a bra. Help to change the shape of the breast, or even-out the look of different sized breasts.
Corset: A corset supports the breasts from underneath and usually pushes them up and over the neckline edge. It is almost always hooked, boned, close fitting and laced. It begins either above or just below the bust and extends down to the waist or below the hips.
Crossover Bra: A wire-free bra with fabric seamed to create an “X” in the front center for support.
Cutlets: see Cookies
Cupcakes: see Cookies
Demi Bra: Refers to how the bra cups are cut. “Demi” means “half” in French, and a demi bra only covers half of the breast. The upper half of the bra cup is cut away to expose the upper part of the breasts. The shoulder straps are usually set farther apart (wide-set). Demi Bra
Encapsulation Bra: This word is primarily used in defining the construction of a sports bra. If a sports bra has cup construction that is separate for each breast, it has encapsulation design. If both breasts are pressed against the chest in the same piece of fabric, this is a compression sports bra. An encapsulation bra provides maximum support during high impact workouts.
Extenders: Small elastic pieces with extra hooks and eyes that attached to a bra band to extend its length. (Basically, you should buy a new bra but you’re being stubborn.)
Foam Cup: see Molded bra
Front-Close, Front-Zip: A bra that closes in the center front. Some bras close in front with a hook and eye, some zip and some use a plastic barrel closure. Front Close Bra
Full Coverage Bra, Full Cup: Refers to how the bra cups are cut. A full cup bra completely covers most of the breast. A full cup bra will not cause an indentation along the top of the breast and offers added support.
Full Figure Bra: Women who wear bras sizes 32-36DD and 38-42C-DD or larger are classified as full figure. Bras made in these sizes are often specially designed to give additional support.
Full Support Bra: Banding under the cups, substantial side wings, and closures with two or more hooks offer supreme breast support for larger chest sizes.
Gel Bra: see Liquid Filled Bra
Graduated Padding: foam padding that starts heavy in the bottom of the bra cup and gradually becomes lighter towards the top of the cup. Usually provides a more natural push-up.
Gore: the fabric in the front, center of a bra between the cups. Non-stretch gore fabric offers more support and shape after many wearings. Looped fabric in the gore allows for more freedom of movement. Some bras have a clasp in the gore that can be tightened for added breast compression.
Halter:A bra with a strap that goes from one shoulder, around the back of the neck, and connects at the next shoulder.(Shown here is a backless halter bra, with the band criss-crossing around the waist. This is a bra that can be worn with open-back halter tops and dresses. Not all halter bras are backless.) Halter Bra
Hidden Underwire: An underwire bra that does not have a seam separating the cups from the underwire.
Inner Sling: Curved, soft strips of fabric inside a bra for added support, which follow the natural curve of the bottom of the cup, similar to an underwire.
Lined Bra: see Molded bra
Liquid Filled Bra, Air Filled Bra, Water Bra, Gel Bra: bras with filled cups to give the look of added breast size. Similar to a padded bra, but different bra manufacturers have tried different “fillings” that more closely resemble natural breasts. Some “fillings” feel more natural to the touch and some are lighter or heavier to wear.
Longline: see Bustier
Mastectomy Bra: A bra designed for women who have had one or both breasts surgically removed.
Maternity Bra: A bra designed for women who are pregnant. A maternity bra will offer more support with a wider band and an underbust band. Other features include straps that reduce bounce, fuller cup coverage and breathability to prevent breast tissue irritation. (Many maternity bras also double as nursing bras.)
Minimizer Bra: Reduces the projection of the wearer’s breasts by holding the breast tissue snugly and redistributing breast flesh more towards the underarm and the center front.
Moisture Wicking: Refers to the fabric of the bra. Draws sweat and moisture away from the skin, to reduce skin irritation.
Molded Bra, Shaped Bra, Contour Bra, Lined Bra, Foam Cup, T-Shirt Bra: T-Shirt BraRefers to cups that are lined or padded to hold their shape, even when the bra is not being worn. Offer significant coverage, a smooth shape, and hide the nipples – even under tight clothing. Contour bras typically offer more structure than molded bras. “T-shirt bras” are always seamless, have contour cups, and have no lace or ornamentation.
Multiway Bra: see Convertible Bra
Neathage: Slang term referring to exposure of the underside of a breast. The word comes from combining “underneath” with “cleavage.”
No Wire Bra, Wireless Bra: A bra without underwires.
Nursing Bra: Similar to a maternity bra, but with the additional feature of cup openings to allow for breastfeeding without removing the bra.
Padded Bra: A bra with padding added to the cups to add size and definition. The pads, if removable, are known as “cookies.”
Pasties, Petals: adhesive patches worn to cover the nipples.
Plunge bra: see cleavage bra
Post-operative Bra: A bra designed to help make recovery from breast surgery more comfortable. These bras differ based on the type of surgery.
Push Up Bra: A bra with heavily padded cups designed to press the breasts.
Quadro-boob: From quad, meaning four. Refers to the fashion faux pas seen when a bra’s cup size is too small, digging into the wearer’s breasts, causing flesh to spill over the top of the bra. Through the wearer’s shirt, this extra flesh combined with the breast tissue still in the bra makes the wearer look as though she has “4 boobs”.
Racer Back Bra: A bra with the back straps anchored towards the center of the back, which curve between the shoulder blades. May be worn to hide straps under sleeveless clothing. Many racer back bras close in front with a plastic barrel clasp. Racer Back Bra
Rigid Straps: Sometimes a feature for Full Figure bras, rigid straps are made from non-stretch fabric. Some bras have straps which are rigid in the front and stretch in the back for additional, adjustable comfort.
Seamed Bra: A bra that has seams holding together multiple pieces of fabric to create one cup. Because seams determine a cup’s exact shape and size, the most supportive bras have seamed cups made in 3 pieces.
Seamless Bra: A bra with cups made from one piece of fabric that has been molded into a permanent shape for a smooth look under clothing.
Shaped Bra: see Molded bra
Shaper Bra: A bra made from a form-fitting fabric designed to slim the silhouette of the wearer.
Shelf Bra: An underwire bra with little or no cups designed for show and not for support. Displays most of the breasts, including the nipples.
Side Cleavage: Slang term referring to the vertical line created between the breast and a woman’s torso when the side of the breast is exposed.
Soft Cup Bra: A bra with a molded cup but no underwire or padding.
Sports Bra, Athletic Bra:
Sports BraA support bra worn during exercise that minimizes breast bouncing. Its design includes wider straps, and broader cup coverage.(Shown here is a compression sports bra.)
Strapless BraStrapless Bra: An underwire bra with wide sides and no shoulder straps or removable straps. Silicone is sometimes present on the inside of the bra to keep it secure on the body. A strapless bra should be worn a little tighter than your everyday bra in order to stay up.
String Bra: see Triangle Bra
T-Shirt Bra: see Molded Bra
Training Bra: refers to a beginner bra for young girls without a cup size.
Triangle Bra, String Bra: Designed like a string bikini with triangles of fabric covering the nipples held together by thin straps that usually tie closed. The bottom of the cups may be gathered on the string like a drawstring. Triangle Bra
Underwire Bra: Bras with sewn-in “wiring” that runs underneath the breast in each bra cup in a “U” shape. The wires lift and separate breasts, and may be a plastic-coated piece of metal, a flexible wire, or molded plastic.
Uniboob: The problem that occurs when your bra squeezes the breasts to look like one long breast. Also known as banana-hammock.
Water Bra: see Liquid Filled Bra
Wide Set Straps, Wide-Away: Refers to bras with shoulder straps that are set farther apart, more evenly distributing the weight of the breasts.
Wing: The side panel of the bra band that usually stretches around the back. Provides most of the cup support by counterbalancing the weight of the breasts in front.
Wireless Bra: see No Wire Bra
Couldn’t find what you were looking for? Email me at rachel @ intimateguide . com (without the spaces) or Tweet to me @intimateguide and I’ll help you out!

Adhesive bra: Uses medical-grade adhesive to stick to your body. May be one piece or 2 separate cups. Provides minimal support, but often leaves little bra to be seen under low cut or backless clothing.

Backless bra: Either has no band in back or dips low in the back to not show under backless clothing.

Balcony bra, balconnet bra, balconette bra: Refers to how the bra cups are cut. Similar to a demi cup bra, the cups of a balcony bra do not provide full coverage over the breast and are cut in a horizontal line across the top of the bust. Herroom says, “The name balconette comes from men in the balcony of a theater looking down upon women. A balconette bra could not be seen from above.”

Bandeau bra: A strapless band of fabric worn around the bust line.

Basque: A long-line bra extending to the hips with garter hooks attached along the lower edge. A Merry Widow is a form of basque.

Boning: Thin plastic or metal strips used to give more structure to a garment. Usually incorporated into a vertical seam.

Bralette: An unlined, soft cup or no cup bra that resembles a short cami. Similar to a bandeau bra, with straps.

Bustier, Longline: A bra with additional fabric extending down to the waist or hip. May include garters, boning or lace-up closing. Often worn under formal gowns. Bustiers are sometimes incorrectly called corsets.

Cleavage bra, Plunge bra, Décolleté bra: A bra with a center gore that dips low in front between the breasts so that your cleavage and not your bra are seen under low-cut garments. Create the appearance of increased cleavage with a deep (plunging) front, angled cups and narrow center gore. (Cleavage is also a noun used to describe the vertical line between a woman’s breasts. Decollete is also a noun used to describe a woman’s chest area above her bustline and below her neck – where most necklaces lay.)

Comfort Straps: Comfort Straps are wider than average straps and are usually padded or lined to be more comfortable on your shoulders.

Compression bra: A compression bra presses the breast tissue (or compresses it) against the chest to reduce motion. Usually refers to a sports bra.

Convertible bra, convertible straps, Multiway bra: Refers to bras with straps that fully or partially detach and can be worn multiple ways. Usually the straps have small hooks that can disconnect and reattach in different forms. Some convertible configurations include: conventional, halter, one-shoulder, off-the-shoulder, criss-crossed and strapless.

Cookies, Chicken cutlets, Cupcakes: A pad made of fiberfill, water, oil or gel that you can insert in the cup of a bra. Help to change the shape of the breast, or even-out the look of different sized breasts.

Corset: A corset supports the breasts from underneath and usually pushes them up and over the neckline edge. It is almost always hooked, boned, close fitting and laced. It begins either above or just below the bust and extends down to the waist or below the hips.

Crossover bra: A wire-free bra with fabric seamed to create an “X” in the front center for support.

Demi bra: Refers to how the bra cups are cut. “Demi” means “half” in French, and a demi bra only covers half of the breast. The upper half of the bra cup is cut away to expose the upper part of the breasts. The shoulder straps are usually set farther apart (wide-set).

Encapsulation bra: This word is primarily used in defining the construction of a sports bra. If a sports bra has cup construction that is separate for each breast, it has encapsulation design. If both breasts are pressed against the chest in the same piece of fabric, this is a compression sports bra.
Extenders: Small elastic pieces with extra hooks and eyes that attached to a bra band to extend its length. (Basically, you should buy a new bra but you’re being stubborn.)

Front-Close, Front-zip: A bra that closes in the center front. Some bras close in front with a hook and eye, some zip and some use a plastic barrel closure.

Full Cup, Full coverage bra: Refers to how the bra cups are cut. A full cup bra completely covers most of the breast. A full cup bra will not cause an indentation along the top of the breast and offers added support.

Full Figure bra: Women who wear bras sizes 32-36DD and 38-42C-DD or larger are classified as full figure women. Bras made in these sizes are often specially designed to give additional support.

Full Support bra: A full support bra will have banding under the cups, substantial side wings, and closures with two or more hooks to offer supreme breast support.

Graduated padding: foam padding that starts heavy in the bottom of the bra cup and gradually becomes lighter towards the top of the cup. Usually provides a more natural push-up.

Gore: the fabric in the front, center of a bra between the cups. Non-stretch gore fabric offers more support and shape after many wearings. Looped fabric in the gore allows for more freedom of movement. Some bras have a clasp in the gore that can be tightened for added breast compression.

Halter: A bra with a strap that goes from one shoulder, around the back of the neck, and connects at the next shoulder.

Hidden underwire: An underwire bra that does not have a seam separating the cups from the underwire.

Inner Sling: Curved, soft strips of fabric inside a bra for added support, which follow the natural curve of the bottom of the cup, similar to an underwire.

Liquid filled bra, air filled bra, water bra, gel bra: bras with filled cups to give the look of added breast size. Similar to a padded bra, but different bra manufacturers have tried different “fillings” that more closely resemble natural breasts.

Mastectomy bra: A bra designed for women who have had one or both breasts surgically removed.

Maternity Bra: A bra designed for women who are pregnant. A maternity bra will offer more support with a wider band and an underbust band. Other features include straps that reduce bounce, fuller cup coverage and breathability to prevent breast tissue irritation. (Often confused with a nursing bra.)

Minimizer bra: Reduces the projection of the wearer’s breasts by holding the breast tissue snugly and redistributing breast flesh more towards the underarm and the center front.

Moisture Wicking: Refers to the fabric of the bra. Draws sweat and moisture away from the skin, to reduce skin irritation.

Molded bra, shaped bra, contour bra, lined bra, foam cup, T-Shirt bra: Refers to cups that are lined or padded to hold their shape, even when the bra is not being worn. Offer significant coverage, a smooth shape, and hide the nipples – even under tight clothing. Contour bras typically offer more structure than molded bras. “T-shirt bras” are always seamless, have contour cups, and have no lace or ornamentation.

Neathage: Slang term referring to exposure of the underside of a breast. The word comes from combining “underneath” with “cleavage.”

No wire bra, wireless bra: A bra without underwires.

Nursing bra: Similar to a maternity bra, but with the additional feature of cup openings to allow for breastfeeding without removing the bra.

Padded bra: A bra with padding added to the cups to add size and definition. The pads, if removable, are known as “cookies.”

Pasties, petals: adhesive patches worn to cover the nipples.

Post-operative bra: A bra designed to help make recovery from breast surgery more comfortable. These bras differ based on the type of surgery.

Push Up bra: A bra with heavily padded cups designed to press the breasts.

Racer Back bra: A bra with the back straps anchored towards the center of the back, which curve between the shoulder blades. May be worn to hide straps under sleeveless clothing.

Rigid Straps: Sometimes a feature for Full Figure bras, rigid straps are made from non-stretch fabric. Some bras have straps which are rigid in the front and stretch in the back for additional, adjustable comfort.

Seamed bra: A bra that has seams holding together multiple pieces of fabric to create one cup. Because seams determine a cup’s exact shape and size, the most supportive bras have seamed cups made in 3 pieces.

Seamless bra: A bra with cups made from one piece of fabric that has been molded into a permanent shape for a smooth look under clothing.

Shaper bra: A bra made from a form-fitting fabric designed to slim the silhouette of the wearer.

Shelf Bra: An underwire bra with little or no cups designed for show and not for support. Displays most of the breasts, including the nipples.

Side cleavage: Slang term referring to the vertical line created between the breast and a woman’s torso when the side of the breast is exposed.

Soft Cup bra: A bra with a molded cup but no underwire or padding.

Sports Bra, Athletic bra: A support bra worn during exercise that minimizes breast bouncing. Its design includes wider straps, and broader cup coverage.

Strapless bra: An underwire bra with wide sides and no shoulder straps or removable straps. Silicone is sometimes present on the inside of the bra to keep it secure on the body. A strapless bra should be worn a little tighter than your everyday bra in order to stay up.

Training bra: refers to a beginner bra for young girls without a cup size.

Triangle bra, String bra: Designed like a string bikini with triangles of fabric covering the nipples held together by thin straps that usually tie closed. The bottom of the cups may be gathered on the string like a drawstring.

Underwire bra: Bras with sewn-in “wiring” that runs underneath the breast in each bra cup in a “U” shape. The wires lift and separate breasts, and may be a plastic-coated piece of metal, a flexible wire, or molded plastic.

Uniboob: The problem that occurs when your bra squeezes the breasts to look like one long breast. Also known as banana-hammock.

Wide set straps, Wide-Away: Refers to bras with shoulder straps that are set farther apart, more evenly distributing the weight of the breasts.

Wing: The side panel of the bra band that usually stretches around the back. Provides most of the cup support by counterbalancing the weight of the breasts in front.

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