Bra Styles Explained: Find Out Which One Works Best For You

Balconette, push-up or t-shirt?
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Boobs come in all shapes and sizes and so do bras, but it can be tricky to figure out what’s what when it comes to bra shopping.

With words like padding, push-up and coverage flying around, it’s easy to get confused about what you actually want or need.

WATCH: How to tell if your bra really fits according to the Bras N Things experts

We’ve broken it down and explained what each style of bra actually is, and what it’s good for. Because it’s not just the size of your bra that guarantees a good fit – the style matters too!

When it comes to bra styles, there are two categories that tend to overlap; padding and cut. The padding is about how much or how little padding a bra has, with push-up styles at one end and unlined or soft cup styles at the other.

The cut is about how the bra’s cups sit on your body, from ones that really cover you up to bras that are very low cut.

Decoding what all the different bra cuts and styles are doesn’t have to be hard. (Credit: Instagram)

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.

Padding styles

T-shirt bra

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.

Example: Originals Tee Bra ($44.99) from Bonds.

T-shirt bras like this are perfect for everyday wear. (Credit: Instagram)

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.

Example: Bethany Push Up Bra ($64.99) from Bras N Things.

Push up styles can boost your cleavage. (Credit: Instagram)

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.

Example: Vamp Vienna Underwire Bra ($79.99) from Bras N Things.

An unlined bra will feel light and breathable. (Credit: Instagram)


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.

Example: Organic Cotton Gathered Bralette ($24.99) from Cotton On Body.

Bralettes and wireless styles are the ultimate comfy pick. (Credit: Instagram)

Bra cut styles

Balconette bra

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.

Example: Siene Balconette Bra ($89.95) from Berlei.

Balconette styles like this tend to look good on most people. (Credit: Instagram)

Plunge bra

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.

Example: Sloggi Zero feel Lace Bralette ($49.95) from Triumph.

This bralette features a deep plunging neckline. (Credit: Instagram)

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.

Example: Fayreform Lace Perfect Contour Bra ($69.95) from Bendon.

Opting for a more full coverage bra will give you added support. (Credit: Instagram)

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.

Half and demi cups tend to be a little sexier. (Credit: Instagram)

Strapless bra

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.

Example: Strapless Lightly Lined Bra ($89.95) from Calvin Klein.

Everyone needs a good strapless bra – even Kendall Jenner. (Credit: Instagram)

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