4 Types of Bras: Which is Best?

Bra Types - New York Style Guide

4 Types of Bras: Which is Best?

Not many women put a lot of thought into the type of undergarments they wear on a day-to-day basis. Bras, brassiere, bralette, balcony, balconette—what does it all mean? Why does it even matter? What really is Victoria’s secret, some sort of classified intel she has on this mysterious industry?

Not quite. Actually, rumor has it that the iconic lingerie label is named after Queen Victoria and that her “secret” is in reference to the hidden nature of undergarments at the time. Since then, we’ve watched lingerie go from taboo culture to a symbol of liberation at the 1969 Miss America protest where the bra-burning feminist trope began.

So, what’s all the hype? Is it a classic case of much ado about nothing? A piece of fabric villainized for its sexual, risqué undertones? Do women need bras, want bras, or absolutely abhor bras?

The jury is still out. But one thing’s for certain: the global lingerie retail market within the fashion industry shows incredible possibility, forecasted to reach a value of 49.5 billion U.S. dollars by 2025.

For that reason, we’re shaking off the social stigma—both good and bad—that exists around intimate wear and taking a cold, hard look at seldom-seen products that deserve your attention. As the industry has grown and evolved over the past several centuries, many new options have emerged on the scene, some of which may suit you better than others.

Ready to unhook the latch on the bra industry mystery? Let’s get started.

  • The (Almost) Au Naturale Bra

Bra-burning aside, many women swear by the bra-less sensation simply because it’s comfortable and natural—regardless of The Man’s social prescription dictating they “should” to wear one to be socially appropriate. If you want to feel free and at home in your skin, but achieve minimal nipple coverage so you don’t receive side-eyes at work, then this is your best option.

You can shop bamboo fabric bras made with all-natural, organic fibers—never synthetic materials—because who wants to put plastic on their bodies? They’re ultra-breathable and smooth as silk, eliminating painful underwires and straps that cut into shoulder blades.

Aside from enjoying the benefits of wearing comfortable undergarments, you’ll also be doing the environment a favor when you purchase bamboo underwear derived from organic fabric. Since bamboo is easily renewable, you know you’re using materials that don’t adversely impact the environment. Just make sure you’re purchasing your bras from companies that don’t use harmful chemicals to treat their bamboo fabrics.

  • The T-Shirt Bra

Soft, cozy, and designed for everyday wear beneath your basic staples—the t-shirt bra is a woman’s best friend. The straps are sleek and effective at minimizing the pressure placed on shoulders, while the band is supportive and uplifting for long-lasting comfort.

It’s best to purchase these in neutral tones so you know they’ll blend harmoniously with whatever tee you pull from your closet, whether that may be bright white or pastel pink. Even though their design is simple, that doesn’t mean they’re not sexy; the Victoria’s Secret T-Shirt Bra, for example, comes available in the Lightly Lined Scoop Demi and Push Up Plunge depending on the look you want to achieve.

Getting the right fit is key in choosing a t-shirt bra. Since t-shirts tend to have thinner fabric than other clothing items, the mistake of wearing the wrong t-shirt bra will be noticeable. Keep the following tips in mind when shopping for a t-shirt bra: 

  • Try raising your arms and see if the band also shifts up. With the loosest hook attached, you shouldn’t be able to fit two fingers. The bra’s band will be the center of support for your breasts, so make sure it’s the right fit.
  • Find the right cup size that will fully cover your breasts. You can try leaning over to see if your breasts are entirely covered and supported by the bra, or else, you might experience a wardrobe malfunction.

Sport Bras - New York Style Guide

  • The Sports Bra

A t-shirt bra is for daily wear, but this style is tailored specifically for high-impact activities like court sports, field sports, running, and aerobics. They deliver strategic support where women need it most in order to prevent back pain known to plague heavy-chested female athletes.

Sports bras often come with features like adjustable, convertible straps that allow you to adjust your fit however you like. Fixed performance foam pads also provide extra coverage while promoting max breathability, keeping ladies cool and dry while they turn up the intensity and rack up a sweat. Plus, if you purchase something similar to Under Armour’s Balance Eclipse Sports Bra, you get the added bonus of a reflective stitching element that improves safety in low-light conditions

If you’re engaging in high-impact activities like running, wearing a dedicated sports bra is necessary. Your breasts will bounce up and down during the activity, so you need maximum support to keep them fixed. Most running sports bras tend to be expensive, but investing in a few pairs will save you from experiencing pain later on.

  • The Balcony Bra

You’ve seen sporty, simple, and sleek varieties—now comes the sexy. A balcony bra (otherwise known as a push up bra) lifts the breasts to enhance their shape, cleavage, and overall appearance. It’s sometimes referred to a shelf bra (designed with an underwire and minimal breast coverage), but shouldn’t be confused with a balconette because the “little balcony” has a horizontal cup shape that lifts up but not inward.

Buy a balcony bra in shades of red, purple, and pink with lace detailing for whenever you want to boost your feminine sex appeal to the max.

These four bra styles are the most common, and you might find you need one of each. Make sure to get sized and fitted for the best fit that feels like a second skin.

Previous NYC Fashion Essentials for the On-the-Go Gal
Next America Fine Wine Competition