When you buy a bra, the cup style is a critical component. There are a lot of options! Different cup styles will give you a different shape or look. Some cups will be more suitable to various necklines and styles of clothes. Check out a few of the most current styles and consider an experiment or two when you next go to try on a new bra!
Full cups hold most of the breast, which allows them to offer both the most coverage and the most support. In the past, most bras for daily wear had full cups for increased modesty.
Demi cups have less coverage than a full cup. As the name implies, these cups are a “half cup”. Lingerie manufacturer standards have the top of the cup end one inch above the nipple.
The balconette cup is basically a demi cup with a bit less coverage. However, you’ll find this name used on a number of styles which are not technically a balconette at all – such as the “shelf bra” that you might find in a tank top. Such bras can also be bought on their own, and may be called a balconette bra. A true balconette will be cut on the diagonal at the top and is usually built to give the breast a look of enhanced fullness.
Contour cup is another term for molded cup. These kinds of cups hold their shape – even when they aren’t on you! These cups will have both an underwire and a foam molded lining in a specific shape. These are a great option for women with noticeably different breast sizes or for those who are in-between bra sizes. (Half sizes are another option, but they can be very hard to find.)
Push up cups are designed to push the breasts up, to create more cleavage and a fuller look. This style of cup is best suited to the woman with a C cup size or smaller. In most cases, the push up cup will be a balconette or demi cup, with padding concentrated at the bottom of the cup to achieve the upward movement of the breast. Sometimes, these cups have removable pads, which allows the wearer the choice of how much push they get!
Many style of cups can be created either with an underwire or as a soft cup. The underwire cup uses a “wire” of either metal or plastic to help support the breast and provide shaping. The alternative to underwire cups are soft cups, which provide all shaping through piecing and materials. Soft cup bras can be quite unstructured, which often contributes to the comfort of these items.
Foam cups have foam padding in the cup of the bra. This is one option to enhance your size while leaving you with a smooth silhouette. These are usually underwire items.
Lined cups can come in almost any style, although they are more likely in full or molded cup styles. The lining provides additional support and keeps cups opaque.
The minimizer does exactly what you would expect – it makes your breasts look smaller by reducing their projection in front of the body. Most minimizers will distribute the breast flesh towards the underarm and center front to reduce the profile of the breasts. No bra can actually reduce the volume of breast tissue, but these do the next best thing.
A padded cup has some kind of fiber-fill. Padding can both add size and definition, which is a boon to smaller breasts.
Molded cups are a relatively new option, that came on the market only after there was the fabric and manufacturing technology to allow creators of lingerie to make a molded cup. Previously, if you wanted the shaping and support of a molded cup bra, you needed to buy a seamed cup.
Seamed cups are still a great option because the seaming allows for a better and closer fit that will always be more supportive than a molded bra. A seamed cup can be made of many more fabrics than any other cup – including lace, satin, silk, cotton or other fashion fabrics. If you look at a bra with beautiful details, it will almost always be seamed!
Keep in mind your own shape and lingerie needs, and consider trying some alternatives to your “old favorite” style! You might find a new favorite.