Bra Glossary

Hear a word in your bra fitting that you're not quite sure of? Not sure the difference between the many different styles of bras? We've been there too, so that's why we created a list of every term you could possibly hear in the world of bras.

Looking for more specifics about sizing terminology? Check out Hourglass Lingerie's Size Guide for more information!

Freshen up on your ABC's as we go through the most common bra terminology!

Adhesive Bra

Adhesive bras do not have straps or a band that stays in place with adhesive

Average Bust

A bust shape that has an apple shape and is perky. This breast shape is usually able to be accommodated by most bras.

Balconette Bra

Balconette Bras lower cut with similar coverage to a demi (very little), but a sexier neckline. The straps on this neckline also sit wider to create a sweetheart neckline and natural breast lift.


The band is what holds and supports the bra on the body. It connects to the cups and wraps around the back, usually with some type of hook system in the back. This is the most important part of the bra to have proper fit in. The number in a bra size refers to the band size.


Bandeaus are a type of strapless bra that is a band of fabric that covers the bust. It is typically made of a stretchy material and may have built-in cups. This selection is better for smaller busted women.


A Bodysuit is a one-piece lingerie undergarment that resembles a one-piece swimsuit. The bust is similar to a full support bra, but back coverage can range from full to a thong. These often provide tummy-slimming effects.


This is a steel or plastic strip vertically incorporated into some bras to add support, structure, or body contouring properties.


A Bralette is a soft bra with no under-wiring or specific cups. They are often made of lace and can be sheer or opaque.


A Bustier covers the entire torso, from breasts to hips. It is popular with brides for its slimming shapewear effect. They are also very versatile, with some being lace-up and others having hook-and-eye. Some also come with or without straps.

Center Gore

The fabric in the front center between the two cups of the bra. The size and shape can determine the amount of support the bra gives, with a higher center gore giving more support and a lower center gore giving less support. This should always lay flat on the chest when fitting a new bra.


The effect created when the breasts are pushed together or are touching from a bra’s support.

Contour Bra

A Contour Bra features shaped cups with lining or padding and typically underwire. They have a lot of coverage but mimic the natural shape of a women’s body, so they’re perfect for anyone looking for a sleek, sculpted look.

Convertible Bra

Convertible Bras are versatile in that they can be worn with or without detachable straps or other attachments. Attaching the straps in different ways can support the breasts differently, add different shape, or increase comfort.


The fabric specifically covering the breasts. All types of bras have this; however, some may have additional underwire, boning, or padding depending on style. The letter in the bra size refers to the cup size.

Demi-Cup Bra

Demi-Cup Bras have low-cut necklines for a much more revealing look. They create a natural push-up effect and are great for busts of all sizes.

Front-Close Bra

Front-Close Bras have a closure in the front as opposed to the typical hook system in the back. They are noted for their ease but are not able to be adjusted as easily as other bra styles.


This breast shape is when the top of your breast is as full and round as the bottom. Hourglass Lingerie specializes in full-figured, full-busted women! We offer a large inventory of lingerie for women who fall into this category.

Full-Coverage Bra

A Full-Coverage Bra has the most coverage of any other type of bra. Barely any cleavage is shown. This type of bra works well on any body shape, not just full-figured, as many think.


This is the most common bra closure located on the back of the band. The metal hooks connect with the loops, with 3-4 different settings for a looser or tighter fit.

Inner Sling

This part of the bra is extra lining in unlined or underwire bras that follows the bottom, outermost portion of the cup. This creates a more supported, lifted, and centered appearance of the breasts.

Maternity Bra

Maternity Bras are designed for pregnant women to gently support and protect the tender breasts. They are designed with comfort in mind to prevent jostling, irritation, and discomfort.

Minimizer Bra

Minimizer Bras are used to create the effect of smaller breasts. They lift and support in the right places to create a slenderer look.

Molded Bra

Molded Bras have cups that are shaped already to mimic the natural shape of breasts for the best comfort and support. They are usually unlined but often have soft cups or underwire.

Nursing Bra

Nursing Bras and maternity bras go hand-in-hand, but nursing bras are meant for mothers after the baby is born. They still offer the great support and comfort of maternity bras, but also include detachable cups to have easy access to the breasts for breast-feeding.

Padded Bra

Padded Bras are any bra that has a formed shape, whether on or off the body. The padding can range from incredibly thin (as in a t-shirt bra) to very thick (as in a push-up bra). These look great on any bust type.

Plunge Bra

Plunge Bras offer a very low-cut “V” shape neckline to offer great cleavage. The cups are also designed to push the breasts together, adding to that wonderful cleavage created and lift.

Push-Up Bra

Push-Up Bras also have a deep neckline but offer more padding than a plunge bra to give the greatest effect of increased cleavage. These can add the appearance of additional cup sizes.

Racerback Bra

Racerback Bras have straps that connect high on the back in a Y shape. This allows a wider range of arm movement, so they are usually better for a more active day. Many bras have the ability to connect to create a racer back bra.

Seamless Bra

Seamless Bras are made of one piece of fabric, so there are no seems visible on the cups (or through clothes!) These are great for any bust type that wants a smooth look under their clothing.

Shallow Bust

This bust shape is when the bottom of the breast is fuller and/or heavier than the top part (think a ski slope). This could be natural or an effect from pregnancy or weight change.

Soft Cup Bra

Soft Cup Bras shape and support without the aid of underwire. They do, however, sometimes have padding, seaming, or lining to create that support.

Sports Bra

Sports Bras are meant to be worn while working out or doing activity involving lots of movement. They are designed to protect breast tissue from jostling and stretching with activity. Some have underwire for maximum support.

Strapless Bra

Strapless Bras have the ability to stay in place without the help of shoulder straps. There are usually silicon strips on the inside of the bra to help it stay in place on the breast. There are specific strapless bras designed for every bust type.

T-Shirt Bra

T-shirt Bras have seamless cups and therefore do not show underneath a t-shirt, hence the name! They also are designed to help prevent nipples poking through. They are great for all bust types.


Thin, flexible wires made out of plastic or metal that offer great support in some bras under the cup.

Wire-Free Bra

Wire-Free Bras have no underwire and therefore are known for their comfort. Due to other design details, these types of bras still offer great support despite the lack of underwire