Bra Photo Glossary and “Bra Mysteries” Revealed!

From Balconette to T-Shirt bra; below are 20 different types or styles of bras, from the purely functional to the purely fun!The bra is, obviously, the most uniquely feminine item of clothing.
A lovely bra, that supports well and is comfortable can improve the “look and feel” of any outfit more dramatically than any other piece of lingerie!

On the other hand, a poorly fitting and uncomfortable bra can ruin your look, and your day, all by itself.

Learn the different types of bras that are available to you, so you can better select a bra will give you that great sense of well being; when you know you look good, and feel good!


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A few things to note, at the start:

    • The bra cups join in front at what is called the “center gore“. This can be stretchable, but bras designed for greater support feature non-stretchable center gores.
    • The part that comes from the cup, and wraps around to the back, is called the “back wing“. The back wing can be a bit elastic or very elastic, depending on the support desired.


  • The shoulder straps are normally thin, except “comfort straps” which are wider, and usually padded. As in the center gore, the shoulder straps can be stretchable, or not, depending on the amount of support you desire.
  • The thing that closes the bra is of course the clasp, and can be in front (at the “center gore“), or in back (at the “back wing“).
  • Bra inserts are used to increase volume, to better fill the cups and to provide shape. These can be foam pads, or air, liquid or gel filled sacs


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The main types of cup, from most coverage to least, are:

  • Full CupCovers the breast completely.
    see full cup bra,below, for more info and photo.
  • Balconette CupCovers about half to 3/4 of the breast.
    See balconette photo, below, for example.
  • Demi Cup– Covers about half of the breast, or less. A very revealing version is called the “shelf bra” or “platform bra“, which, as the name implies, covers little, but does provide support under the breasts. Photos of both a demi cup bra, and a shelf bra, are shown below.

With the photos and text below, you can see some of the variety of bras available, and you can get an idea of what you prefer beyond those that you are already familiar with.

Also, I have added a link the appropriate page of of Shop, so that you can see many more examples of the type you are interested in. If you would like to purchase that type of bra, you may do so from my Shop.


The balconette is designed to increase the appearance of the top of the breasts, and the cleavage between them by its being low cut (about 1/2 to 3/4 coverage), and lifting. The breasts are not pushed together, as they are in a “push-up” bra. The cups are often cut almost horizontally across the tops of the breasts, though in this lovely example they are cut for more of a plunge.

The shoulder straps are set wide, to make this ideal for wear with a top or dress with a wide and deep neckline. See more, at My Sexy Lingerie Shop.


A convertible bra is extremely versatile; the straps can be worn in the regular way, but can be re-arranged into “halter top” style, criss-cross, racer, backless, even strapless!

With this bra you get good support, and the versatility to wear it with almost anything from a tank-top to an evening gown!

A convertible bra is a “must have” for traveling, since it can take the place of several bras. See more, at My Sexy Lingerie Online Shop.icon


The demi cup bra is cut so that the top edge runs just above the nipple (about 1/2 or less coverage), allowing maximum top exposure, moreso than most balconettes.

The shoulder straps are set wide, towards the outsides of the cup, making this an excellent choice when wearing deep and/or wide necklines, while the bra keeps out of view.

Also, the top edge of the cups are usually angled, plunging deeply in the middle to display the cleavage.



The front closing bra is removed by opening a clasp that is located where the cups join each other, at the center gore; which makes it much easier to put on and take off. Many women prefer them for exactly this reason. Also, men find them far easier to handle, too!


A full cup bra completely covers most or all of the breast, offering both more coverage and more support than a demi or balconette cup bra.

This type of bra is best for when bra exposure is not an issue, (or when you actually want some of the bra to be seen) but comfort and support are, such as when wearing sweaters etc., and when physically active (but, see sports bra, below).



A mastectomy bra is worn by women who are overcoming cancer surgury, and have had a breast (or breasts) removed.

Outwardly it looks identical to any other full cup bra, the magic is inside; the bra cup contains a pocket that securely holds a breast form (prosthesis), which provides a natural look, feel and weight to that side. It also provides proper support to the other breast.

The bra is not only functional and attractive, but designed to be very comfortable, since the skin is healing in the breast area.


Maternity bras are specially designed to give extra comfort and support during pregnancy, when the breasts are going through changes.

The cups are usually molded, and more elastic to accommodate the changing shape and size of the breasts.



A minimizer bra reduces the appearance of the bust by up to one cup size, and they do this while still giving a flattering appearance to your figure.

They are made with a full cup, and have a very oval profile. The straps are more closely spaced than on other types of bras.

Minimizer bras have nice features built in, to ensure comfort, such as: padded straps, softened bra material, and “soft seal” clasps. They are underwired, for support.



Molded bras have cups that are machine molded, meaning they keep their “cuppy shape”, even when not being worn. When worn, this helps to enhance the natural shape of a woman, for appearance and comfort.

Molded bras are generally unlined and may be either soft cup or underwire. They can be of any cup type (full, demi, balconette, etc.)


Worn after child birth, the nursing bras feature cups that open to make it easier to breastfeed. They also provide good support, and are designed to be very comfortable.

The nursing bra in the photo has unique cups; they open in the center, rather than at the top of the cup.

Nursing bras are always underwire-free, for increased comfort.


The plunge bra is designed to allow you to wear a very low cut neck line, and still remain out of view. They do this by using a very small center gore, and by cutting the cups away from the middle (as in the picture). Also, the shoulder straps are usually set wide apart.

This creates the effect of a sexy neckline by uplifting the bust, revealing the top part of the breasts, and displaying the cleavage.

The plunge bra is excellent for wearing with low cut styles, and with tops that have a wide cut neckline.


Ideal for smaller breasted women, the padded bra lifts, supports and shapes the bust, which creates a more noticeable look.

Padding (of various types) is added to the lower portion of the cups, which creates a fuller look, and also pushes the breasts upward, increasing cleavage.


As the name suggests, the push-up bra pushes breasts up and together, in order to create more prominent cleavage. This can give a real boost to appearence to women of smaller cup sizes, causing the bust to appear much larger (think Wonder Braicon, etc.).

Also repositions the bust (in the cup), a look achieved through built in foam padding, and removable inserts such as liquid and air bags or other “cookies”.

The cups are cut at an angle, for visible cleavage, and are balconette or demi type.



In a racer back bra, the main feature is the way the shoulder straps meet the back wings; they create a lovely back silhouette, which curves in between the shoulder blades.

A picture really helps with this description, please see the photo to see what I am trying to describe!

Many convertible bras can also be worn as racerback.


The seamless bra is very comfortable, and a good everyday bra.

Seam-free cups make the bra discreet under a tight fitting top (there may be seams in other parts of the bra and still be considered seamless).

Seamless bras are a great choice for pairing with clingy knits, t-shirts and lightweight fabrics, because they are smooth and virtually invisible under clothing.


The shelf bra (also called a platform bra) has only under-bust cups, and is designed to support the breasts from below, but not cover them.

Obviously, this bra is worn for special occasions; but they are more useful than you might think, at first, especially for women with smaller breasts, and for more mature women who are sagging a bit, but still enjoy feeling very flirty.

Under a top, the nipple may or may not be visible, depending on the thickness of the material.


The sleep bra is designed to be extremely comfortable to sleep in.

Any woman can wear them if they want, of course, but they are particularly meant for use after breast surgeries, or while pregnant, or for large breasted women who need the support while laying down.

They are made of soft, very stretchy material, and one bra can handle cup sizes from A to D! Of course, they are not underwired.

Because of how comfortable they are, some women prefer to wear them all day, as they do provide support while standing, also. That is why they are sometimes called “Leisure bras”.


Sports bras are designed to give the needed support to the breasts, during physical activity that could cause them to bounce painfully.

They are easy to recognize, by the large size of the center gore, shoulder straps, and backwings. Many are designed with zippers, in front, but it is better to buy the ones that just go on like a t-shirt, with no snaps or zippers that could become uncomfortable during activity.

Good sports bras are made of special “wicking” fibers, such as Intera and CoolMax, to remove sweat from the skin, and aid cooling. You can even buy them with built in heart-rate monitors and other high-tech gear.

Needless to say, they can be worn as outer clothing, and most do not have underwires.


A triangle bra has cups that are triangle shaped; the cups come to a point on top that rises to meet the shoulder strap, rather than the shoulder strap coming down to meet the cup. This gives great coverage and support for smaller to medium size busts.

Triangle bras can have padded cups, and/or lined cups, but they usually are not underwired.

Most triangle bras have thinner shoulder straps, smaller center gores, and narrower back wings.


T-shirt bras are designed to be invisible under even the thinnest fabrics. They are seamless, and usually made of micro-fiber with contoured (or, molded) cups. In many ways, they are similar to seamless bras, since the intent is basically the same; to have the bra be virtually unnoticable under clothing.

T-shirt bras can be underwired, or soft cup.