From a to z – everything you need to know about bras
What is guipure embroidery and what really is side support? There are so many technical terms and expressions that are used to describe bras. Our A-Z glossary provides a quick overview of the most common (and a few unusual) terms used in bra descriptions on the Internet and in magazines today.
The activity bra provides excellent support and is perfect for everyday tasks and light activities. It is often made of a functional material that breathes and leads away moisture from the body for greater comfort and long-lasting freshness.
A balconette bra has cups with a straighter cut at the top. It provides good lift that builds from underneath. The model got its name from the bust resting on a balcony shelf. A balconette bra is suitable for almost all kinds of breasts.
The band measurement is taken with a measuring tape around the upper body just under the bust. This is the measure that determines your bra size.
A soft bra model that goes a bit further down on the body. Available in versions that you close or that are pulled down over the ahead.
A bra extender is attached to the hook and eye fastening on the back of the bra to form an extension for the back and increase the circumference of the bra.
See Longline bra.
Centring means that the breasts are centred, i.e. gathered towards the middle, so when you look straight from the front the bust looks less wide. This can be done with the help of, for example, a bra with side support or a push-up bra.
A firm satin weave fabric with a semi-shiny outside and matt inside. Feels comfortable against the skin. Traditionally made of silk but nowadays polyester fibre is more common. Popular for use in cups and the front section of bras.
A contour bra has fully padded, moulded cups that define the shape of the bust in the bra. The difference between a contour bra and a T-shirt bra is that the contour cup Is always fully padded, while the T-shirt bra can be unlined and unpadded and therefore does not define the shape of the bust in the same way. The contour cup also makes your breasts look symmetrical.
Cotton is a natural material that is soft and smooth, durable and easy to look after. It breathes, doesn’t absorb smells, is excellent for sensitive skin and a popular choice for undergarments.
Comfort shoulder straps are wide, usually padded straps that are gentle on the shoulders. Perfect for large or heavy busts but, of course, just as good for small busts.
A bra that focuses on comfort. It often has wide, padded shoulder straps that relieve the shoulders.
Coverage refers to how much of the breast is covered by the bra cup. A full cup has high coverage.
The cup size is the size of the actual breast in relation to the width of the back. The cup size is indicated by a letter, e.g. B cup. The smallest size is an AA cup.
A cup with a lower cut than a full cup that does not cover the whole breast. It covers about three-quarters of the breast.
An elastic cup is made of stretchy material that adapts to the shape of the bust. There are different degrees of elasticity, some stretch in both directions while others only stretch in one. The advantage of an elastic cup is that it is comfortable and more forgiving in terms of size, which is good if you are between two sizes or have different size breasts.
Elastane is a polymer fibre used in small amounts in fabrics that need elasticity that lasts and doesn’t stretch and lose its shape. This makes it popular to include small amounts of elastane in fabrics that are supposed to fit tightly on the body but still be comfortable, for example the back of a bra. In the USA, elastane is known as spandex, but in Europe the name elastane is used. Lycra and Dorlastan are registered trademarks for the elastane fibre.
See padded cup.
Embroidery on a tulle base.
A firm cup means that the material in the cup is not elastic and thereby doesn’t stretch. There are cups in firm materials with no give and with firm material that has a little stretch in one direction for a better fit. A firm cup provides good support for the bust and is particularly good if you need extra lift.
Firm under cup
If a bra has a firm under cup it means that the bottom part of the cup is made of a firm material while the upper part is elastic. This is a good combination as the under cup provides support for the bust while the upper part adapts to the bust with a little more flexibility in terms of size.
A bra that closes at the front between the cups instead of on the back. Front-closure is particularly useful when you want to put on and take off your bra without having to make twisting movements or if you find it difficult to reach the fastening on the back.
Front-adjusted shoulder straps
A bra with shoulder straps that can be adjusted at the front instead of on the back. This makes it easy to adjust the straps yourself while you are wearing the bra.
Having a full bust refers to having a cup size that is big in proportion to the circumference. It usually refers to a D cup or bigger.
Fully lined cup
In a fully lined cup, the whole cup has double layers of fabric. Sometimes this is done to reinforce a cup made of an elastic or thin material or it may be to avoid transparency in, for example, a lace bra.
Full cups enclose the whole bust and have a high-cut décolletage. Perfect for large busts or when you need extra support. The high-cut cup edge also gives a smoother transition between the skin and the cup.
Full padding makes the cup firmer and helps to shape the bust. Available as moulded models or cups with seams and as underwired or non-wired. The most common is light padding a few millimetres thick that adds stability but doesn’t increase the volume.
Guipure is a type of embroidery on a base that is then fully or partly cut away. A technique that is popular on exclusive bras and undergarments.
A bust that weighs a lot and needs support and help to be lifted.
Keep Fresh is a specially developed fabric that leads moisture away from the body and doesn’t feel wet.
On a bra with a lined cup, the whole or parts of the cup have double layers of fabric. Sometimes this is done to reinforce a cup of an elastic or thin material to provide better support, but it can also be to avoid transparency in, for example, a lace bra.
Lined under cup
On a bra with a lined under cup the bottom part of the cup has a double layer of fabric. This is done to reinforce the cup and provide better support for your bust.
On a moulded bra, the fabric of the cup has been moulded into a round shape through heat treatment and therefore doesn’t have any seams, making it perfect to wear under thin or tight clothes. There are moulded cups with and without padding and with and without lining.
A nursing bra is used during the breastfeeding period and has cups that can be opened so you can breastfeed without having to take off the whole bra.
A leotard back is a U-shaped back on which the shoulder straps go all the way down along the U-shape to the bra fastening. A leotard back, sometimes called ballet back, has an elegant and neat look.
A lounge bra, sometimes called a relaxation bra, is a comfortable, non-wired bra that is perfect for relaxing days. It has been developed for comfort rather than support.
Lycra is a registered trademark for elastane fibre. Lycra can be stretched up to six times its length and return to its original length without losing its elasticity.
Lift is a projection and should not to be confused with support. All bras provide support to different degrees by keeping the bust in place, but a bra that provides lift for the bust is perfect when you have a flabby bust or one that sits a long way down.
Lift support is an extra panel or strip that runs along the bottom part of the cup. It is usually lightly padded. It serves as an extra support function and helps to give the bust extra lift.
A longline bra, also known as a bustier, provides extra support, as the bra goes further down the body and distributes the weight. The extra-long body has a smoothing effect on the back, and the transition to the skin is less visible, making it perfect for use under tight clothes. Some models have side bones which provide excellent support.
A maximiser is a bra with very thick and sturdy padding in the cup and often thick pads at the bottom and on the outer part of the cup. This gives the impression of the bust being one or more sizes bigger.
An elastic net material that is commonly used in, for example, sports bras. It is common for the back to be made of mesh.
An ultrafine synthetic fibre that is finer than 1 denier. Undergarments made of microfibre are light and have a very soft feel. Usually made of polyester or polyamide.
A minimizer bra gives the impression of the bust being a cup size smaller. It has a shallower and wider cup that distributes the bust in a slightly flatter shape. Good if you think your bust is too big or if you have a wide breast base.
A multiway bra has shoulder straps that can be varied in different ways. For example, they may be completely removable or able to be connected across the back and together using a small hook.
An umbrella term for all bra models without an underwire in the cup. Available in many different designs. Sometimes called soft bra.
On a bra with no-slip shoulder straps, the straps are placed closer together on the back to avoid the risk of them gliding down, also for small and sloping shoulders.
A plunge bra has a very low cut between the cups.
A synthetic material that is popular for use in undergarments. The polyamide fibre is easy to look after, feels soft and comfortable against the skin and has good resistance against moisture and oil from the skin.
The most common synthetic material used in undergarments. Polyester is versatile and can be used for a large number of styles such as satin, charmeuse, chiffon, etc. Polyester is heat and colour resistant, dries quickly and shrinks less than, for example, cotton fibre. Polyester is commonly used in functional fabrics. There is a big difference in quality between different polyester fabrics.
A mesh material that is commonly used to line undergarments for reinforcement.
Projection refers to the way the breasts are ‘aimed’ in the bra, the most common is for the breasts to be lifted, centred towards the middle or separated.
A prosthesis bra has a pocket on the inside of the cup with space for a breast prosthesis. The cup has an extra high cut at the front to cover any scars and prostheses.
A push-up bra is a low-cut bra that lifts the breasts up and together to give the impression of a bigger bust, as the cup has pads in the outer part and underneath. There are different strengths of push-up effects.
A raised front means that the bottom edge at the front is cut to leave more space for the tummy. This also makes the bra look neater.
A relaxation bra is non-wired, comfortable and perfect for relaxing days. It has been developed for comfort rather than support.
See U-shaped back.
A soft bra is suitable for women who prefer a bra without an underwire. The term soft bra is usually used to describe a non-wired bra but sometimes also a lounge bra.
On a bra with a straight back, the back is the same width in the middle as at the sides.
A close-weave fabric with a shiny front and matt back. Can be made from several different materials. Polyester and silk are common.
When we say that a bra separates the bust, it means that it parts the breasts. This is usually done by the bra fitting close to the body between the breasts, common in, for example, underwired bras, as the underwires fit tight against the breastbone.
A silicon band along the upper part of the cup is used to reinforce the edge of the cup. This is used, for example, when thin elastic material is used in the cup. The silicon band prevents the material from losing its shape. With the silicon band, the material is also tight against the skin and doesn’t move.
A bra with side support in the cup provides extra support for the bust and helps to centre and lift it towards the middle. Side supports are suitable for all kinds of breasts and sizes and especially big busts and breasts that are far apart, as the side support prevents the breasts ‘floating apart’ towards the armpits. Side support with padding provides extra support.
A side wing is an extra panel or wing on the side of the bra along the armpit. It makes the transition between the bra and the skin by the armpit smoother.
A sleeping or relaxation bra is designed with comfort as the first priority and is often made from elastic breathable material. The aim is for it to be so comfortable that you can sleep in it.
Spacer is a lightweight material in three layers. The middle layer has air pockets that allow the air to circulate. The outer layer transport the moisture and heat away from the body, which makes the material suitable when you want a cooling feel.
A sports bra is suitable for activities as it keeps the bust firmly in place. A sports bra has bounce control, i.e. it ensures the bust doesn’t move up and down as you move.
Stretch shoulder straps
On a bra with stretch shoulder straps, the shoulder straps are elastic, which makes arm movements easier, and they are more comfortable than straps without any give.
The side bone is sometimes found in the side seam of a bra to provide extra support.
A generic word for how firmly the bra keeps the bust in place and the support it provides for the bust. The stronger the support, the less the bust will move up and down when you move. There are different ways that the bra can provide good support, and some bras are specially designed to provide support for a full and heavy bust.
A bra with a T back has a narrow wrestler back, sometimes called racer back. This kind of back is common in front-closure models and bras that are pulled over the head.
A T-shirt bra has a smooth moulded cup without seams and is therefore perfect under thin and tight clothes. Available with or without an underwire.
A cup with a lower cut than a full cup that doesn’t cover the whole area of the breast. It covers about three-quarters of the breast and is also called a demi cup.
On a bra with a three-section cup, each cup is made of three pattern parts. The shape of the seams affects the silhouette of the cup and the support. A three-section cup generally has a rounder shape than a two-section cup.
Aa bra with a tulip neckline has a three-section cup, and the contour of the seams forms a tulip shape. The tulip neckline gives the bust a nice round shape and beautiful décolletage. Available with and without an underwire.
A two-section cup consists of two different pattern parts. The way the seam is shaped affects the silhouette of the cup. There are many different variants and cuts.
On a bra with a U-shaped back, the back is low cut between the shoulder strap fastenings. The U-shape makes the back look neater even when the outer sides are wide and sturdy.
A uniboob or uni-breast is when the breasts form one unit and look like one single mass, a so-called loaf, due to the fit of the bra. It is the extreme opposite of separation.
Under cup refers to the bottom part of the cup with a horizontal seam.
A bra with an underwire provides good support and lift and helps to shape the bust. The underwire surrounds the breast and ensures the bra fits close to the body at the front in the centre to provide nice separation of the bust and hold it in place.
The upper cup, also called top cup, refers to the upper part of a cup with seams.
A bra with a soft band instead of an underwire. The wire band is flexible like on a non-wired bra but offers extra stability compared with a bra without an underwire.
A wrestler back, also known as a racer back, is a T-shaped back that is closed and has no fastening. It can be found on, for example, front-closure bras or bras pulled over the head. On a bra model with a wrestler back, the shoulder straps cannot glide down, and it is perfect if you don’t want the shoulder straps to stick out, for example, under a camisole.