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Buying Bras

A bra is an essential piece of a woman's ensemble. It can help refine your shape, support your breasts and back, add comfort and more. Buying a bra is about more than just finding a style that suits you; it involves choosing the right size, fit and design to enhance and support your body. With a variety of cuts and styles designed to fit different body types and accommodate different wardrobe selections, you can find the right bras to add to your collection.

Do you need a new bra?

You should replace bras every six to nine months, as bras that are worn regularly will stretch out and become less supportive. In order to avoid bra shopping sprees every few months, buy one each or every other month, so you're only replacing one bra at a time.

Not all outfits are created equally. With strapless, backless and single-shoulder shirts and dresses, you're going to need bras that are suited for your entire wardrobe. You'll find a variety of bras that are suited to each shirt and dress you own.

If the shoulder straps of your bra are carrying more weight than the band, the cups are loose and the band is riding up your back, it's likely time for a new bra.

When your body changes, whether you gain weight, lose weight or become pregnant, you'll need a bra that is designed to fit your current body, not your old one.



Types of Bras

Full-Coverage Bras

Full-coverage bras have more fabric than other bras, and are designed to cover the breasts, offering full support for breasts of all sizes.



Full-coverage bras are best for...

Modest mavens: For women who wish to avoid visible cleavage, full-coverage bras cover the breasts completely.


Full-figured women: The amount of fabric in a full-coverage bra allows for maximum support, which is especially beneficial for women with large chests.

Seamless Bras

Also referred to as t-shirt bras, seamless bras are ideal when paired with tight knits so you don't have visible bra lines. The seams are sewn on the inside of the bra to create a seamless appearance.




Seamless bras are best for...

T-shirts: The seamless look makes it easy to pair underneath form-fitting t-shirts without a visible line.


Thin fabrics: If you're wearing a nearly sheer top or dress, you're going to want a bra that won't show through, like a nude-colored seamless bra.

Demi Bras

These stylish bras cover less than three-fourths of the breast, sometimes as little as half the breast. Demi cups are often cut on an angle that pushes breasts together to create the appearance of cleavage.



Demi bras are best for...

Low-cut dresses and tops: Because of the sparse fabric used in a demi bra, they are less likely to be visible when wearing a top with a deep neckline that shows cleavage.

Lingerie sets: Demi bras can create a suggestive look that pairs well with matching panties for date night with your sweetheart.

Push-Up Bras

Very similar to the demi bra, a push-up bra is a minimal-coverage bra with an angled cup that shows more cleavage. Push-up bras are also heavily padded to help create the illusion of larger, perkier breasts compared with a standard demi bra.




Push-up bras are best for...

Small chests: If you're looking to give the appearance of an increased bust size, a push-up bra with make your breasts look larger and closer together for maximum cleavage.

Drooping breasts: When breasts start to sag, you'll want a bra that can lift them up. A push-up bra will help keep your breasts looking perky.

Minimizer Bras

These molded-cup bras compact and shape breast tissue so the bust appears smaller and more condensed.



Minimizer bras are best for...

Large breasts on a small frame: Women with full chests who want to give the appearance of a smaller figure can wear minimizer bras to compress their breasts.

Button-down shirts: Many minimizing bras help flatten the bust which can make it easier for a large-breasted woman to wear button-downs without the buttons gaping open.

Plunge Bras

These low-cut bras are cut in a V- or U-shape with the lowest cut in the center of the bra to allow for plunging necklines. Some plunge bras drop below the bust line for the most extreme deep-cut ensembles.



Plunge bras are best for...

Deep V-neck tops and dresses: Plunge bras are specifically designed to create an alluring look without a visible bra while wearing shirts and dresses with deep necklines.

Visible cleavage: If you want to show off your chest, plunge bras can push breasts up and together for maximum cleavage.

Balconette Bras

Sometimes called a balcony bra or a shelf bra, balconettes lift breasts with a supportive underwire and expose the upper breasts with a demi cup. Because of the way a balconette bra is cut, breasts appear rounder and fuller than usual.



Balconette bras are best for...

Date night: These revealing bras offer a flirty look that's sure to impress your honey when worn with a low-cut top.


More cleavage: When you wear a balconette, your breasts are lifted and pushed together to create a racy look with a lot of cleavage.


These wireless bras without cups focus on style and design, offering little support for large breasts. Some bralettes have additional fabric that stretches down toward the waist, like a crop top.



Bralettes are best for...

A and AA cups: Because there are no cups or wires for support, these bras are better for women with small breasts who don't need to wear a bra, but want to.


Underneath sheer tops: When you're wearing a sheer or partially sheer top, you don't want a typical bra showing through your shirt. You can add a pretty, lacy layer with a bralette.

Strapless Bras

Strapless bras offer the support of a bra with a tight band without straps. Oftentimes, these bras will be convertible, with removable and adjustable straps that you can wear in a variety of different ways with added support.



Strapless bras are best for...

Strapless dresses and shirts: When your shirts and dresses are strapless, you'll need a bra that will stay invisible.

Spaghetti and halter straps: Keep your bra from showingunder thin, flimsy straps by wearing a strapless bra.

Bandeau Bras

These bras are thin, elastic bands of fabric that cover the breasts much like a strapless bra, but with less support.




Bandeau bras are best for...

Breasts that don't need much support: Because bandeau bras are typically just an elastic fabric, they're most beneficial for women who don't need a supportive bra.

Sleevelesstops with open arms: If you're wearing ashirt or casual dress with wide arm holes, a bandeau bra can keep your breasts covered without showing off a typical bra.

Long-Line Bras

Often strapless, though not always, these bras offer the coverage and support of a traditional bra that extends down to the waist utilizing wire boning for added support.



Long-line bras are best for...

Evening dresses: These bras are designed to shape your figure to fit a dress, whether it's for a wedding, prom or homecoming.


Creating an hourglass figure: Long-line bras tighten the waist and push breasts upward, which can give the illusion of or accentuate an hourglass shape.

Sports Bras

These supportive bras help keep breasts in place during physical activity, protecting the ligaments in your chest from potential injury.



Sports Bras are best for...

Gym regulars: When you hit the gym a couple times a week for cardio, yoga or strength training with weights, a reliable sports bra can help keep your breasts from bouncing too much.

Athletes: If you're actively involved in sports and other athletics, you'll want to wear a sports bra every time you're out on the court or field.

Adhesive Bras

These bras use medical-grade tape to stick to your chest or side without a full band. Some adhesive bras are reusable, while others are meant for one-time use only. You'll find a variety of styles available, including patch, silicone and molded-cup adhesive bras.



Adhesive bras are best for...

Backless dresses and tops: These bras are strapless and backless, providing nipple coverage and minor support when wearing dresses and shirts with open backs.


Small and average cup sizes: Many, if not most, adhesive bras are only available up to cup sizes B or C. Because adhesive bras offer little support, large breasts are likely to sag while wearing an adhesive bra.

Nursing Bras

These bras are specially designed for nursingas it has added support for lactating breasts and a soft cup that allows access to the nipple with pull-down flaps. With a nursing bra, busy moms can feed their baby without having to remove their entire bra.




Nursing bras are best for...

Nursing mothers: If you're a nursing mother or planning to be, you're going to want a bra that allows you to feed your baby comfortably and modestly.



Maternity Bras

Not to be confused with nursing bras, these bras have stretchable cups for growing breasts and comfortable support to alleviate pressure. Most maternity bras are wireless for added comfort.



Maternity bras are best for...

Pregnant mothers: Maternity bras are designed for pregnant women whose growing breasts require a comfortable and supportive bra.




Mastectomy Bras

Mastectomy bras have optional padding that can be used in one cup or both to give the appearance of breasts when all tissue has been removed. Like maternity bras, these styles are often wireless for comfort, as well.



Mastectomy bras are best for...

Breasts with different cup sizes: While most women have slight differences in their breast sizes, some women have one breast that is a cup size or more larger than the other. You can add a padded insert to the cup with the smaller breast for an even appearance.

Post-surgery: After having a single or double mastectomy, you may need a bra that offers more support without uncomfortable wires or tight bands to accommodate sensitive areas.


Features of Bras


  • Thick straps can add extra support, but it's important to remember that the straps shouldn't be doing most of the work
  • Thin straps are beneficial for wearing under tank tops and dresses with small straps
  • Convertible straps are adjustable and long enough to use in a variety of different ways including:

                   o Strapless

                   o Halter

                   o One shoulder

                   o Criss-cross

                   o Standard double shoulder

  • Racerback bras have straps that extend over the shoulders from the center of your back, often closing in the front, under the chest
  • Clear plastic straps are often available for strapless and convertible bras to offer an invisible solution for wearing straps




  • Padded bras can keep nipples from showing through shirts
  • Some padding can create the illusion of either bigger or smaller breasts, depending on the style of bra and the shape
  • Some cups have removable inserts that can add extra lift or padding for small breasts, but that can also be removed to accommodatelarger breasts
  • Molded cups are lightly padded to provide additional support and shaping
  • Water bras and air bras have filled cups that make breasts appear larger




  • Most bras use a hook and eye closure that holds firm, but opens and closes easily
  • Back-closure bras are the most common type of bras on the market and often have adjustable settings for band size
  • Front-closure bras have a clasp or clasps in the front, between the breasts, for easier access
  • Many sports bras and bandeau bras pull over your head instead of snapping closed with a clasp




  • Wireless bras can sometimes be more comfortable for women, though they provide less support than bras with underwire
  • Some wires are shaped differently depending on the style of the bra


  • Measure your bra size before you buy a bra
  • If you gain or lose weight, you should re-measure your bra size
  • If you're not quite sure what your bra size is, you can get fitted by a professional brafitter in the intimates department of a retail store




  • Microfiber bras are made from synthetic fabric that is not only soft, but also breathable
  • Satin bras offer support without padding as the shiny fabric holds breasts tightly with very little stretch
  • Mesh bras are sheer and sexy with a taut fabric that holds breasts in place
  • Cotton bras combine comfort and support with a fabric that's ideal for casual wear
  • Some bras have detailed accents such as lace, embroidery and even rhinestones



Bra accessories

  • Bra extenders can extend the band size; just make sure to check that your cup size hasn't changed along with your band size
  • Long bra extenders can be used to create an open-back bra by wrapping around the waist
  • Bra clips can pull and tighten bra straps in different ways to account for a variety of shirt styles like racerback, open back and more



Other Considerations

Bra maintenance and care

  • Wash bras regularly, after one to two uses
  • To get the maximum use out of your bras, switch bras every day as wearing a bra two days in a row can be detrimental to its elasticity
  • The more bras that you regularly rotate, the less often you'll need to replace your bras
  • High-quality bras will last longer than inexpensive, cheaply-made styles



Bottom Line

Every woman needs several bras in her wardrobe at any given time. Whether you wear the same style of bra every day or you like to change things up based on your outfit, you'll want to have several to change out daily. Bras come in a variety of shapes, sizes, styles and designs to fit women with vastly different body types. If you're small-busted, opt for a bralette or bandeau for the most comfort or choose a push-up bra to maximize cleavage. If you're large-chested, you may love the support of a full-coverage or minimizer bra, but you can also flaunt your voluptuous body with a racy balconette or demi bra. Let bra shopping be a fun way to change your look. Try on different types of bras underneath different shirts and get a feel for what is most comfortable for you.