These categories overlap in so many ways; you can have a t-shirt bra in a plunge, balconette or full cup style, in the same way you can have a balconette bra that comes in an unlined or push-up version.
Scroll through to figure out exactly what each bra style is and what will work best for you.
These are the bread and butter of bras. A t-shirt bra will have a light amount of padding, minimal seams and a comfy everyday design. They’re meant to be worn under just about everything, so they’re usually smooth and won’t show through your clothes.
Best for: Almost everyone! T-shirt bras are the perfect middle ground and work on most body types.
Padded/push up bra
Bras with extra padding are designed to boost your cleavage and are often described as "push up" styles because, well, they push the girls up. Each style may have a different amount of padding, meaning the "push up" effect can be more subtle or dramatic depending on the style.
Best for: People who want extra cleavage or the appearance of bigger boobs.
Soft cup/unlined bra
Soft cup or unlined styles are bras without any padding or moulding, where the cups are usually made out of thin fabrics like lace. Unlined bras don’t shape your boobs or lift them as much as padded or moulded styles, but they’re very light and breathable. They can be really sexy or simple and plain, depending on the style.
Best for: Those who want something light, sheer and comfy. The lace styles are great for a sexy option, too.
Bralettes and wire-free bras are styles that (you guessed it) don’t have an underwire. They offer less support than wired styles, but can be more comfortable and are great options for when you’re buying your first bra or just getting used to the feeling of wires.
Best for: People who don’t need heaps of support or want a comfier alternative to wired styles.
Bra cut styles
Balconette bras are designed with an open, almost square cut across the cups and shoulder straps that sit further apart. The cups will typically sit at the same height in the centre of the bra as they do on either side, so it doesn’t plunge at all in the middle.
Best for: Most people, especially those who find their boobs aren’t as full at the top as these styles lift from underneath.
Defined by their deep, plunging necklines, plunge styles feature cups that sit very low in the centre of the bra. They’re typically cut in a V shape, leave plenty of room for cleavage and are great to wear under low-cut shirts.
Best for: Wearing under low-cut clothes, or people who have firmer boobs – some people with softer busts feel like they spill out the front of plunge bras.
Full coverage/full cup bra
Bras that are full coverage, full cup or even ¾ cup styles are designed for ultimate support and coverage. The cups on these bras will rise higher and cover more of your boob, and are usually made with thicker straps for even more support.
Best for: People with bigger boobs or who want a really supportive option.
Demi/half cup bra
A demi or half cup bra is just what it says on the box – a bra with only part or half of a usual cup. These styles are designed with less coverage and are often sexier or more risqué options, as they leave more of your chest exposed.
Best for: Wearing with revealing tops or for people with smaller, firmer boobs that don’t need lots of coverage.
Example: Saskia Magenta Bra ($119.95) from Honey Birdette.
We all know what a strapless bra is – it’s a bra without straps (duh). These styles use firm bands and sometimes silicone lining to stay in place without straps and are necessary for many strapless outfits. They come in a huge range of sizes, so don’t believe the myth that people with bigger boobs can’t wear strapless bras.
Best for: Wearing under strapless outfits.
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