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There are many styles of brassieres, to be worn in a variety of situations and with a variety of outergarments. The degree of shaping and coverage of the breasts varies between styles, varying in both functionality and fashion, fabric, and colour, from purely utilitarian to sensual. Others include various accessory structures such as padding and 'underwiring'. Many bras will fall into more than one category, such as a maternity bra designed for facilitating access to the nipple, but also designed to provide the lift that a push-up bra would. Definitions are not always very accurate or exclusive (e.g. shelf bra). Currently underwired bras are the fastest-growing segment of the market.[1]

Alphabetical list of brassiere designs

  • Adhesive: a bra that adheres to the breasts; features no straps or bands of any sort; and provides little support to the breasts. This type of bra is intended for backless and strapless fashions. There are two types: disposable paper ones that use a strong adhesive, and re-usable ones that use silicone and can be washed and re-used.
  • Bandeau, a simple band of cloth worn across the breasts, providing little support or shaping.
  • Built-in bras, sometimes known as shelf bras (not to be confused with the shelf-bra described below), are supportive brassiere-like structures, sometimes detachable, on the inside of another garment, such as a swimsuit or tank top, which provide support for the bust without the need for a separate bra. In most such garments, these built-ins consist of a horizontal elastic strip, although some have cups and underwires as with other bra types.
  • Bullet bras are a type of full-support bra with cups in the shape of a paraboloid of revolution with its axis perpendicular to the breast. Bullet bras often featured concentric circles of decorative stitching centred on the nipples. Invented in the late-1940s, they were still being sold well into the 1960s.[2]
  • Convertible bras have straps that may be detached and rearranged in different ways depending on the outfit. Alternatives to regular straps for strapless bras are beaded bra straps or clear plastic bra straps that provide support and style.
  • Cupless bras (also called open cup bras or portrait bras; cf. shelf bras below) consist of a brassiere frame with no support cups. They expose the nipples with notched or contoured support cups. Usually worn as erotic lingerie, a cupless bra can cause the shape of the nipples to be prominently visible on an outer garment.
  • Demi bras, also known as balconette bras, are a half-cup bra style with wide-set straps and a horizontal bust line. Often seamed or boned, they promote cleavage and a frame-like effect. These offer less support but enable low-cut garments to be worn without the bra being seen. Demi bras may be designed to provide lift as do push-up bras.
  • Front closure bra: Bras that have closures, usually hooks and eyes, on the front rather than at the back. These bras lie completely flat at the back. Some feature a racerback-style back (see below).
  • Full support bras are a type of bra designed to offer good support for the whole of the breasts and, as such, are a typical, practical bra for everyday wear.
  • Mastectomy bras are designed so that a prosthesis may be held in place and are intended for individuals who have lost one or both breasts in mastectomy treatment for breast cancer.
  • Male bras are bras worn by men with gynecomastia, usually to flatten and conceal rather than lift and support.
  • Maternity bras are designed such that they can be expanded to adjust as the breasts increase in size over the course of a pregnancy. Maternity bras may also refer to nursing bras.
  • Minimizer bras are designed to de-emphasize the bust, in particular of large-breasted women (34 C or above). Minimizers, by compressing and shaping the breasts, help to create the illusion of being a cup size or two smaller and are often more comfortable.
  • Novelty bras are designed more for show and sensuality than for function. They may include unusual materials, such as leather, or be unusual in design, such as peephole bras whose cups loosely cover the breasts, but include holes around the nipples.
  • Nursing bras are designed to help make breastfeeding simpler by allowing the baby easy access to the nipple. Traditionally, the cups of nursing bras are covered with flaps of fabric that can be unclasped at the top and pulled down to expose the breast.
  • Padded bras are simply bras with padding inside the lining. They are designed to provide a fuller shape for small breasts and are an alternative to bra stuffing (a practice where tissues, sugar packets, cotton balls, socks, or falsies are placed inside a bra to simulate larger breasts). Unlike push-up bras, however, most padded bras support the breasts but do not significantly lift them. (see also Water bras)
Canadian WonderBra, c. 1975
  • "Push-up" bras are structured so that the breasts are lifted and placed closer together to enhance the cleavage. The best-known brand of push-up bra is the Wonderbra. Many push-up bras contain padding, typically made of foam or rubber, but some contain gel-filled pads. The main distinction between padded bras and push-up bras that incorporate padding is whether the padding is centred under the breasts to lift them or is outside the centre so that the padding pushes the breasts inward.
  • Racerback bras have shoulder straps that come over the shoulder in a "V" pattern very close to the neck. This design is sometimes worn under dresses or tops where "traditional" straps would be exposed. Many Sport Bras use racerback construction.
  • Shelf bras are essentially a rigid band (underwired) along the inframammary line that pushes up while covering none, or only a narrow strip, of the breast.
  • Softcup bras have no underwire support in the cups. Rather they rely on the strength of the underband to provide support to the bust.
  • Sport bras provide firm support for the breasts and are meant to prevent discomfort or embarrassment during vigorous exercise.
  • Strapless bras, with no shoulder straps, are designed for wearing with clothes that reveal the shoulders, such as halterneck tops.
  • T-shirt bras are designed without raised seams, so that a tight t-shirt may be worn without the bra being visible. These often have padded cups to conceal nipples and to provide a smooth line under t-shirts.
  • Trainer bras are designed for girls who have begun to develop breasts but for whom a standard-size bra doesn't fit properly. They are of simple construction and offer little, if any, support.
  • U-plunge bras are designed to be worn with a deep décolleté or plunging neckline.
  • Underwire bras are designed to give extra support and endurance. They have a wire (metal or plastic) running under each cup to provide rigid support to the bust.
  • Water bras or gel bras: Bras that have water- or silicon-gel-filled cups to make ones breasts look larger. Air bras were a similar concept.

There is no standardised system of bra-design categorisation. Other terms include full figure, bridal, BBW (see Big Beautiful Woman), vintage, teen (see Trainer bra), belly dance.[3]

References








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