When you don’t live and breathe bras like bra store owners and bra fitters, the terminology around bras can be exhausting.
That’s why we put together this handy bra glossary of the terminology you may encounter when looking for bras and lingerie.
Much like sizing (which is expansive!) the size of the lexicon around bras and lingerie is equally expansive.
Lets face it, most people do not spend their free time thinking about bras, but when they need one and decide to research them online, they can often find themselves more confused than when they started.
Hopefully, most of them give up trying to unravel the bra mysteries on their own and head to their local bra fitting store for a fitting and advice. It truly is the best option! After all most people just want to wear a comfortable bra and be done with it.
For those of you who don’t high-tail it to your local bra fitting store and try to decipher the descriptions you might find online, hopefully this bra glossary can provide some help.
By no means is it an exhaustive glossary of lingerie terms, and we will continue to expand it, but it is a good start.
Something missing? Let us know and we’ll get on it!
This is just another piece of information we felt necessary to put out there as we work hard to become a reputable site on all things bras and lingerie.
The team at Your Bra Store
Adjustable straps are features that not every bra has. If your bra has adjustable straps, you’ll have the power to slide the straps into whatever position you’d like, making it tighter or looser for a custom fit.
The apex point is where the cup meets the straps of a bra. If the apex is higher, it will give off a triangular shape. If the apex is lower, it will give off a half moon shape.
Synonymously known as bra rolls or back bulges, back fat is the descriptive name given to areas of skin, tissue, and muscle that naturally pop out of the bra around the banding and straps. Sometimes, back fat is displaced, bulging out around the material because the bra size is too snug. Trying on and purchasing a bra that’s the right size and right style will help stop this from happening.
The back strap joint is the area where the strap of the bra and the actual bra band attach. There are two ways this can happen; either at a ninety degree angle or at an oblique angle. Most times the back strap joint reduces stress on the shoulders and back.
A bandeau is the perfect bra option to promote full frontal and side coverage when wearing any top revealing outfit. This band of clothing classifies as a bra but can also be worn as a crop top. With no wires or cups, it’s the perfect comfy strapless bra replacement with nipple coverage.
If a manufacturer uses a bartack stitch, it’s likely because the clothing item is valuable and needs to hold up long term. Bartack stitches are often used when sewing together areas of lingerie that have stress or additional wear and tear to them. Such areas include but are not limited to boning areas and underwire casings.
Boning is a specific type of support used to stabilize, lift, and accentuate breast tissue when wearing a bra. Originally made from bones themselves but now fabricated from thin plastic and metal strips, this secure additive attentively assists in shaping the feminine figure through corsets, bodices, garments, and bras. The light support mechanism is long lasting through years of use and washing.
The band is the most supportive part of a bra. It holds up the breasts more so than other aspects of the bra. The band should not be too tight (avoid digging into the skin) or too loose (avoid putting added pressure on the back and shoulders). The band is directly connected to other parts of the bra, like the cups and hook and eye closures, while it wraps around the rib cage.
Bra extenders are used to elongate the band of a bra from one to three inches. The mechanism itself is made up of small pieces of fabric with additional hooks and eyes for surface area expansion. Often used by people between bra sizes.
Fully functional and classically comfortable, bralettes offer light support for women with lighter busts. These undergarment creations have absolutely no wiring and typically no padding. Bralettes almost always have beautifully woven lace patterns and sexy styles woven on them.
A breast prosthesis can be used temporarily or permanently after breast health or aesthetic surgical procedures. These artificial breasts are often made out of silicone or foam and generally mimic what a real breast looks, weighs, and feels like.
A breast root is the point on the body where the breast tissue meets its surrounding body regions. It’s good to know what shape your breast root is, as this can help guide you towards a well-fitting bra.
The bridge connects both cups of a bra, notably distancing each breast so that they exist separately with ample support on either side of the bra. The bridge is expected to sit flush with the center of your chest when wearing a well fitting bra.
Somewhat of a corset rendition, a bustier is an elongated strapless bra. The bustier starts at the bust and makes its way down to the naval for full coverage. Underwire or boning is present for additional support and cleavage boost, but no shape slimming qualities are present.
Thin underwire, also known as C-shape underwire, allows your breasts to look perfectly rounded inside the cup of the bra. Shape retention is easily achieved with this creation, making flexibility a possibility.
The center gore of a bra is that little area of fabric that’s in between the two cups, stabilizing the breasts. If the center gore is not lying flat one the torso, the bra does not fit as well as it could.
Cleavage is the approximate one to two inches of breast tissue that are exposed when a woman wears a low-cut top. This space is usually narrow and does not droop below two inches.
Classic bras have a closure mechanism either at the front or back of the band. Back closures offer traditional hook and eye mechanisms whereas front closures usually act as a locked clasp. The closure itself was created to enable the wearer to tighten or loosen the bra’s band accordingly to achieve whatever personal comfort level they’re looking for.
Comfort straps are wide bra straps that assist in structurally supporting breast tissue. These wide bra straps distribute weight properly across the chest, minimizing pressure and stress on the shoulders while reducing skin discomfort and irritation. Opposed to their thinner equivalents, comfort straps tend to stay in a comfortable position with minimal chance of digging into skin or slipping off the shoulder.
Compression bras were intricately created for women who have recently had breast augmentation surgeries or some sort of intense breast treatment. These bras are now more widespread, particularly in sports bras.
These bras are designed to compress the breast tissue into one cup, holding them tightly together for minimal movement. This action helps with recovery and does not irritate the treatment process.
A convertible bra, also known as a multi-way bra, can be worn in a variety of different ways. Most convertible bras have straps that can come off completely, making it strapless. Then, to wear the bra properly, you can reattach the straps into any front and back hook to create the look you desire, whether it be criss-cross, halter, strapless, or something entirely different.
Cookies, cutlets, and cupcakes are three different types of removable bra inserts. They are often used to lift breasts, define their shape, and promote full coverage across the chest.
Typically, women use these soft and smooth pads to enhance their breasts naturally or to give them added fullness and flare. Cookies are often used in push up bras as fiberfill pads. Cutlets are chicken filet shaped silicone pads. Cupcakes are fabricated from medical grade silicone.
A corset is a body shaping undergarment that extends from just below the bust to the top of the hips. Materials used during creation produce an hourglass figure for any woman wearing it. Smooth your belly, boost your cleavage, and slim those hips in one fell swoop. The traditional corset will have front closures for easy dressing and back lace closures for an added stylistic feature.
Daybra wire is short for an “everyday wire”. A popular wire, it is the standard wire shape that is found in most everyday bras. The wire is sealed into the bottom of bra cups.
Elastane is the generic Spandex, but the material itself is still lightweight and stretchy just like its original counterpart. The elasticity and durability behind Elastane makes it perfect for use in sports bra and lingerie creation, having the material automatically adhere to the body in all the right places.
Embellishments can be delicately designed patterns usually woven into fabric (particularly lace) to achieve an elegant, sexy look. Or they can be little bows between the cups, little hearts on the straps, or any other fun little add-on the designer conjures to spruce up the bra.
Encapsulation bras have individual cups with no compression inside. The cups ‘encapsulate’ each breast. Most everyday bras are considered encapsulation bras but we mostly hear about the distinction of encapsulation bras when discussing sports bras, ie: encapsulation or compression style.
Regular encapsulation bras are ideal for everyday, low-impact activities without any irritation.
Fasteners secure either end of a bra band together for a sufficient fit. Typically, bras have hook and eye fasteners at the back of the band, but some secure in the front by the use of clasps in between cups.
Firm support is what every woman looks for in a proper fitting bra. Getting a firm support bra generally involves a couple of variables coming together; a snug fit, a strong band, robust material, and well adjusted straps.
Sports bras always offer the most secure, firm support to participate in a range of activities. With this type of full coverage, the wearer will often get strong underwire and shape retaining material for any size breast.
Foam cup bras use inserted foam to smooth out the breast shape and give a bit of padded push up. Foam cups are often sought when looking to boost the volume of the bust.
Memory foam cups do an excellent job of retaining their shape. They are ideal for travel because after unpacking they regain their form.
The gore of a bra is that little area of fabric that’s in between the two cups, stabilizing the breasts. If the gore is not lying flat on the torso, the bra does not fit as well as it could.
The two popular types of gore can help you achieve different looks. Non-stretch gore is made to shape and support the breasts, whereas looped gore is made to give the breasts free movement.
Graduated padding works it’s way from thick padding to thin padding. You’ll find that these types of bras will always have thick padding at the base bottom of the cup with gradual thinner padding as you work your way up towards the bra straps. This design gives you a natural pushup effect with optimum cleavage.
A gusset is the bottom area of the undergarment that’s lined with cotton to ensure women have proper ventilation in the crotch region. The fabric used for this purpose helps absorb moisture while granting optimum breathability to minimize any kind of irritation. Sometimes called a “panty pocket” as it can tend to look like a small pocket.
Underwire bras were created to provide the wearer with additional support and a more rounded breast shape. Regular bras connect the underwire of the bra with the cups by use of a seam, but hidden underwire bras do not have that seam. It’s a strategic design implementation.
The hook and eye mechanism at the back of a bra is the stabilization method used to keep the undergarment wrapped around your body. The mechanism has a left (hook) and right (eye) side where the two pieces interlock for security. Without such an intricate addition, the bra would not withstand a long shelf life.
Made with non-stretch material, inner slings provide additional stable support similar to their counterpart underwire. These soft, curved pieces of fabric naturally follow the breasts curvature and act as an invisible shelf to hold up breast weight properly and comfortably.
Originally known through Joseph Marie Jacquard’s creation of the loom attachment, jacquard (jacquard knit) is a thoroughly thought out design strategy used to create slightly raised patterns on lingerie items. Colored cotton yarns are delicately woven to create anything from floral to animal print.
Great for bra fabrication, jersey material is fully versatile, quite stretchy, and relatively soft for daily use. If you’re moving around throughout the day, jersey material will easily become your favorite bra material – athletes stand by it.
J-hooks are bra hook and eye fasteners that can hook onto both the back left and the back right bra straps. This feature easily transitions your normal fitting bra into a racerback, granting ample opportunity to hide the bra when wearing specific tops or dresses.
Often found in sports bras, a keyhole feature is a special design fabricated to make wearing certain bras easier. The breathable opening in the center of the bra makes participating in sweaty activities much more bearable.
Keyholes are not the exclusive purview of sports bra, many bras use a keyhole as an aesthetic enhancement, creating fun, stylish bras.
Knitting machines produce knitwear using an array of fabrics, including silk, linen, cotton, wool, viscose, and rayon. The combination of materials may differ in production to achieve the best end product. Because knitwear is used in lingerie, lace, and mesh production, it must be constructed as high quality with durability in mind.
Often used in undergarment and lingerie fabrication, lace falls softly on the skin and has become a real fan favorite over the years. Women purchase lace wear for the delicate woven patterns and the subtle sheer appearance. Some lace prints conceal the nipple with variations of floral or distinct shapes, others are completely see through with webbed accents.
Leavers Lace is created from a specific production machine, used to weave different lace patterns together as if they were sewn by hand. These machines are capable of reproducing a number of different lace patterns, from simple to intricate. Depending on the machine used will depend on the dimensions and thinness of the product produced.
Light support bras were specifically made for women with a small bust, typically in the A or B range. Oftentimes, the wings are slightly smaller and there is no band or padding holding the cups up. Using this type of bra during exercises and activities like yoga and stretching is practical.
A lightly lined bra is fabricated with a few light layers of fabric. These layers do not provide padding, but can help in rounding out or gently shaping the breast tissue. With such thin fabric, you may be able to see the nipple shape or color, depending on the brand you purchase.
Lined cups provide adequate coverage to the nipple and most of the breast tissue, taking away any see-through element the bra may have. Lined cup bras are great for full coverage. The top half of the lined cup bra may still have a see-through aspect to promote sexiness, but that’s not always the case.
Additional fabric layers are added to the cups,provide ample nipple coverage and give your breasts a boost. Molding each breast into a rounded, playful shape is easy with a lined bra, especially considering the padding was strategically created to perfectly shape your bust.
Lingerie bags are specifically designed mesh bags allowing you to wash your bras in the washing machine (hearsay!)
Most bras fare better in the wash if they’re placed in a lingerie bag. If bras are put loose into the washing machine, they may become stretched out over time and lose their capabilities.
In a lingerie bag, all undergarments are treated as delicates, not hooking onto other clothing and not being exposed to everyday wear and tear of the machine washing.
Longline bras were specifically created for women that mostly stand on their feet throughout the day. A longline bra is a lengthened bra extends down the ribcage, sometimes all the way to the waistline.
The extra fabric below the band supports the bust, taking additional stress and pressure off of the back and shoulders. A slimmer appearance may also be achieved depending on the brand of longline bra you purchase.
A lower bra cup is the opposite of an upper bra cup, where it covers the lower portion of the breasts instead of the uppermost part. Lower bra cups help lift and support the bust.
Lycra is a synthetic fabric. One of the most popular of synthetic elastic fabrics, it is a very good material option for bra manufacturers to use.
The fibers are form-fitting to one another, creating a product that supports and stands by optimum comfort. With the slight stretch and flexibility it carries, Lycra easily becomes a strong and durable material for all types of bra production.
A mastectomy bra was specifically created for women who undergo a mastectomy surgical procedure. These bras have internal spandex pockets to ensure the prosthesis stays in place for a full and healthy recovery. The plus side is that the inner linings are stitched using cotton, making it soft and comfortable to hug your breasts while they’re going through sensitive recovery.
Maximizer bras are designed to give you an increase in breast size through padding. They offer great support due to their ample padding and underwires to help make your bust look bigger.
Mesh is classically categorized as sheer in appearance with net-like webbing. A much loved fabric with a great reputation, mesh is used in a variety of ways in designing and making bras. A breathable fabric, you’ll often find mesh in different parts of the bra including the band and cup.
A popular fabric in high demand, mesh has continued to find a growing customer audience among bra wearers and manufacturers have been increasing its usage.
An M-Frame bra is specifically constructed to prevent a ton of horizontal movement of the breasts. Typically, these types of bras offer full support for natural breasts, shaping them with a lightweight nylon fabric and keeping them secure in their respective places. The firm straps restrict breast bouncing of any kind, ensuring a knit tight fit.
Microfiber fabrics are known for their smooth, light, and soft reputation. The synthetic fibers that mold together form a silky-like texture making this material ideal for bra production.
Moisture wicking fabrics are used when fabricating sports bras and other specialty bras that need to be somewhat sweat resistant. The fibers inside of this specific fabric almost immediately draw sweat and moisture away from the body through its built-in capillary system, making it more comfortable to wear. Just keep in mind that though these fabrics are water-resistant, they are not waterproof.
Molded bras are designed to create a specific, round shape. Wearing a molded bra will almost always give you an outward symmetrical shape below your clothes.
Molded bras are made of a thicker material than non-molded bras and generally have padding that can be gradual, with more molded in the bottom of the bra than on the top, or more around the sides to help push your breasts into the middle. Molded bras offer a high degree of support and stability due to their padding.
Most common bras to be classified as molded are: pushup and tshirt bras.
The term “muffin top” refers to the small layer of fat right above a woman’s low-rise or low-waisted jeans. You’ll likely see this flesh if the jeans or pants are too tight. Appropriate shapewear may assist in eliminating the muffin top temporarily.
Seamed bras, also known as multi-cup bras, are fabricated with more than one piece of material.. Typically, the creators that sew the fabric together form a particular shape that warrants optimum breast support so that women with heavier busts can relax. Seams in the cups where the fabrics of the cup meet, help shape the breast.
Multiway bras are the most convenient, adaptable bras on the market. These fan favorite bras have detachable straps and hooks in the front and the back to properly place the straps wherever you see fit. Transition the look according to the outfit and wear one strap, two straps, or no straps. Create a halter bra or a racerback bra. The options are endless.
After birth, nursing pads will easily become one of your greatest friends. Nursing pads readily attach to the inside of a regular or nursing bra, separating the nipple from the bra padding. This creation was made to prevent clothing stains and to omit breast milk leakage.
The opacity of a clothing item tells you how much of the bare body can be seen through the material. If the opacity percentage is at zero, the clothing item is completely see-through. If the opacity percentage is at one hundred, the clothing item is non transparent.
Over wires do not promote or support the breasts to a tee, but they do promote a certain feminine look. Over wires can enhance overall breast appearance if the custom fit works well. This design goes above the bust, whereas the separators go in between the bust as an added, unique element.
Padded bras are among the most popular bra purchases for women with both small and large busts. The padding itself is strategically placed in the cup to enhance the breasts, making them appear more voluptuous with increased cleavage. The material used is soft and form-fitting to boost confidence without sacrificing comfort.
A peephole bra does not primarily concern itself with giving the breasts full coverage. This creation is a form of lingerie fabricated with nipple cutouts to create a sensual experience in the bedroom.
Peephole bras almost always do not have cups to support and lift breasts, but they may have an underwire feature to make breasts perky.
A “double boob,” slang term for pillow, is an over-the-top press. This double boob look happens when the cup of the bra digs into the upper breast tissue so much that it seems like the wearer of the bra has two boobs on each side opposed to one. This creates a not-so-normal cleavage look.
A piqué is formerly known as a double weave, defining itself as woven, strong fabric. The ribbed and raised patterns created through this woven, textured material make it seem naturally quilted.
A common underwire used in bra production is called plunge wire. This underwire sits on the bottom of the cup, is shorter in the front and longer on your sides. This allows the breast tissue to dip below their “push-up” resting spot in a comfortable position.
Power tulle is created to act like mesh for lingerie clothing items and bridal attire, amongst other apparel items. The material itself has super strong, small threads, allowing it to adhere to bodily figures for a sufficient, lightweight fit.
Powernet is made up of 25% spandex and 75% nylon, making it a stretchy, yet highly durable material. More often than not, this creation is used to fabricate corsets and bra bands. Added features include phenomenal shape retention and supportive capabilities.
Bras that fit tighter than the wearer would want may experience the cup’s top material digging into their breast tissue. This “press” notifies the wearer that the bra is too tight. This does not mean simple markings on the skin from wearing a bra, that is totally normal. Bras should be worn snug. We are talking about an uncomfortable, digging in, a “press”.
Projected breasts take up less of your chests surface area, generally protruding out from the body. These types of breasts need a specific, deep bra cup to be properly supported. They can oftentimes be compared to a semi-filled wine glass in shape considering their short and narrow frame.
“Quad” is translated from Latin as meaning the number four.
When a breast is referred to as a quadro-boob, the person describing the breast is formally stating that a person has two boobs, but it looks as if they have four. If this happens, the bra that the wearer has on is much too small, causing the breast tissue to pool over the top of the cups.
Racerback bras have criss-cross straps in the shape of an “X” to boost breast bust while taking a little pressure off the back, shoulders, and neck. It doesn’t matter if a racerback bra has an underwire or not, as the strap placement redefines breast shape on its own.
Rigid straps give much more support than flexible straps, primarily because they’re made from non-stretch material. This feature makes them ideal for women with larger breasts.
The front of bra strap that connects to the two bra cups is typically thick and stabilizing, and the back of the bra strap that connects to the bra band has some stretch to it to avoid the material from digging into the skin.
The scallop technique is applied to various undergarments, included but not limited to the bras, panties, and tank tops of the world.
The decorative style itself mimics the shape of a scallop, forming a half circle with the dome region facing outside the fabric or lace.
Scooping breasts is a technique taught to women who prefer wearing bras with underwire or similar support. To do the scooping method, use your left hand to hold the underwire portion of your bra out ward while using your right hand to reach in and scoop your breast up and into the wires. Repeat this action for the opposite breast. You’ll achieve a snug, proper, comfortable fit for your breasts to rest in all day.
Seamed bras are fabricated using three separate pieces of fabric sewn together to create supportive cups with an ideal shape and size. The difference between seamed and seamless bras is all associated with preference. Most women with bigger bust sizes lean towards purchasing seamed bras for the best definition and fit.
Shallow breasts spread themselves over a larger surface area usually starting near the collarbone. These types of breasts don’t typically protrude outwards and are oftentimes not rounded with deep cleavage.
If you’re looking for added support in your feminine swimsuit, the best solution would be to find a top with a shelf bra sewn in. Shelf bras are built-in bras created specifically to house full bust breasts without looking bulky. Slimming feature often included when fabricated.
Oftentimes seen when women wear a sleeveless dress or top, side cleavage is breast tissue that sags enough on the sides to form a side bare breast cleavage. This breast tissue can only be seen from the armpit to rib cage area. Side cleavage and side boob are not the same.
Soft cup bras are missing one key ingredient that most other bras have: an underwire. A softcup bra is a wireless bra.
However, soft cup bras make up for it with their attention to detail in other supportive areas. Most have one or more of the following features: Wide straps, inner sling, thicker band, padded or lined cups.
A stiffener replaces the underwire in a bra, as most of these specific bras need some type of additional support. A stiffener will reduce the roll up factor in a non-underwire bra.
Strap adjusters, also known as sliders, are the elements of the bra that lengthen or shorten the straps to your comfortability level. The strap adjusters lie flat on your back for the best fit.
Strapless wire has an important job – to stabilize and support breasts when straps aren’t around. Sometimes, this wire needs to be a little more resilient for a comfortable, right size fit.
The strapless wire is the same length at the front and the side. This provides maximum support. Unlike the plunge wire that is shorter in the front and longer on the side.
Stretch fabric is generally referred to as elastic material because of its ability to stretch fibers and then return those fibers to original size with no repercussions. This twisty turn fabric is widely used in swimsuit, bra, and sports clothing fabrication.
Sweetheart necklines were named for their appearance – resembling the top half of a heart. These necklines perfectly frame the decolletage and collarbone, accentuating the bust in an elegant but perky way. Most women with full breasts have a natural sweetheart neckline.
Tack is a descriptive word for how well the center gore of the bra lays flat between the two breasts.
If the center gore “tacks,” it means that that specific area of the bra is in the right place at the right time, secured on top of the sternum.
If the center gore is raised off the sternum, the bra does not properly fit the wearer.
A tankini is a two-piece swimsuit created to make women feel comfortable, confident, and secure.
The top resembles a traditional tank top and the bottom is a normal bikini bottom. This wonderful creation is also great at protecting additional areas of skin from sunburn.
Bra manufacturers created the three-section bra cup to provide the most breast support an undergarment can give. These careful creations divide each bra cup into three sections, supporting the heaviest of busts every day of the week.
Triangle bras give much less coverage than their half moon bra counterparts. These often padded, wireless bras are great if you’re trying to show off a plunging neckline with any low-cut top. Triangularly shaped in nature.
Underbust bands are the lowest part of your bra, formed by elastic fabrication, created to hold your bust up properly. It is the band that lays below your breasts and adheres to your body for stability.
To get your underbust band measurement, take a measuring tape and span it out from the middle of your chest to the center of your spine. Double that number and you have your underbust band measurement.
Underwires were created to help support and stabilize the breasts when inside the bra. Generally favored by large bust women due to their stability and hold, those with smaller breasts often choose to use an underwire bra for their incredible lifting, shaping, and separating capabilities.
The underwire material itself is placed through an opening at the bottom of the cup of the bra and sewn in place so as to not puncture, scrape, or scratch the skin.
The underwire is one of the core elements of the bra, giving it shape and creating the resistance needed to hold the breasts in place while wearing the bra.
The uniboob refers to the squeezing together of both breasts tightly together making them look like a single boob. More common in sports bras and compression bras.
Traditional supportive bras often cannot create a uniboob look.
Most bras that create the uniboob look do not have separate cups for each breast to go into, therefore making it easier to squish breast tissue together into one long boob.
Wide set straps were designed to be as close to your shoulders as physically possible without falling off. These types of straps allow an even distribution of breast tissue across a larger surface area. They also allow more of the neckline and bare chest to be showcased.
Commonly misconstrued as the band, bra wings are fabric strips that connect to the front of the bra (cups) and back of the bra (hook-and-eye fastening mechanism).
Wings stretch around the back of the bra to add support and they come in a variety of heights. Avoid high height wings as they could end up digging into your armpits and cause unnecessary irritation.
An x-back bra simply requires the two straps to criss-cross at the back, showing off an x-like shape.
Adjusting the straps to this position can give increased support to your breast bust, and it can add a design element if you’re wearing just a tank top.
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