Bra Buying Guide

Bras should be fun and fashionable while also providing comfort and support. This bra buying guide outlines the different styles and features to help you get the look and fit you want.

Bra Styles 101

Functional, supportive and stylish, bras are an essential part of every woman’s wardrobe. Since you wear a bra all day, every day, it’s important to buy in your bra cup size for proper coverage and support. When shopping, consider different bra styles for different activities, and also the clothes you’ll be wearing overtop. Your options include wire-free bras for casual wear, underwire bras for additional support when you need it, and push-up bras for a curvier look. Whether you’re working out, nursing or dressing for success, the right bra will complete your look and help you feel relaxed and comfortable.

Types of Bras


Wire-free Bra

A wire-free bra, also known as a wireless bra, offers increased comfort and range of movement since there’s no underwire built into the cups, which can cause pinching discomfort. Wire-free bras are made from stretch fabrics for a supportive and snug fit that lifts and separates your breasts. In general, wire-free bras are more casual in style, so they're better suited for use under casual clothing.

Underwire Bra

An underwire bra has a rigid metal or plastic wire built into the cups to offer additional support and to shape the breasts. The underwire also helps the bra retain its shape, even after hours of active wear. An underwire bra can cover the breasts fully or have a lower cupline to show a hint of cleavage when you wear low-cut tops and dresses.

Push-Up Bra

When you’re going for a curvier look, choose a push-up bra to lift your chest and create defined curves. A push-up bra really emphasizes cleavage: it makes smaller breasts appear larger, and highligts the décolletage of women with larger busts. Push-up bras are suited to women of all cup sizes, and are especially good for women with smaller busts who want to emphasize their cleavage. 

Strapless Bra

A strapless bra provides support without the unsightly straps for wear with shoulder-baring outfits. Most strapless bras have underwire in the cups to provide lift and support, like a regular bra. Because this type of bra needs to stay up without the help of straps, it often has tighter bands with adhesive, and firmer cups to prevent gaping and bulging. When choosing strapless bras, you might find it’s more comfortable to go up a band size to avoid pinching or chaffing. 

Sports Bra

Sports bras have padding, cups or compression fabric to hold your breasts in place when you’re moving around vigorously during a workout. They also have wide straps for added comfort and support, and an easy-to-pull-on style. Most sports bras are made from breathable cotton with stretch to keep you comfortable. At the higher end of the price scale, some sports bras feature innovative fabrics that draw sweat away from the body to keep you cool and dry. 

Balconette Bra

Also knows as a demi-cup bra, a balconette bra has low cups and wide-set straps so you can wear very low-cut tops or dresses without revealing your bra. While they don’t offer full coverage, balconette bras have padding and underwire for support and to lift and separate like other underwire bras. 

Convertible Bra

A convenient and affordable option, the convertible bra, as the name suggests, can be converted into a number of different bra styles to suit your wardrobe. By removing or adjusting the straps, you can transform your convertible bra into a strapless bra, racerback bra or halter bra. A convertible bra has underwire cups to provide lift and support, no matter how you style the straps.

Minimiser Bra

Minimizer bras are made from a strong fabric that compresses the breasts to give the appearance of a smaller bust. Minimizer bras are perfect for women with large breasts who want to downplay their cleavage or ensure a proper fit for tops that are too small in the bust area. 

Adhesive Bra

Adhesive bras are made from silicone and stay on your skin without the use of straps or bands. This style of bra serves as a backless bra to provide coverage when wearing a backless outfit. Adhesive bras don’t have strong cups or underwire for lift or support, so they may not suit women with larger breasts.

T-Shirt Bra

T-shirt bras have padded cups made from a soft fabric without seams to give you a smooth shape under a clingy t-shirt or lightweight top. T-shirt bras often have underwire and adjustable straps for supportive fit. Because of their comfort, versatility and seamless support, t-shirt bras are a great choice for everyday wear.

Bra Buying Tips:

• Check online size guides to ensure a proper fit
• Bra styles range from thick seamed to seamless to suit different looks and support needs
• Make sure your breasts don’t overflow or gape in your bra cups
• Your bra should fit snugly, not tightly, against your body
• Buy bras that suit your wardrobe
• Have enough bras to wear a different one every day of the week
• Consider going up a size when buying a strapless bra
• Buy bras that suit both your personal style and your functional requirements
• Replace your bras every 6 months

Bra Features

Bandeau +

Bandeau bras are made from super stretchy fabrics like nylon, spandex and viscose to fit snugly against the body without fasteners or straps. While this style of bra may have some extra padding for support, there are no straps or underwire for shaping or lifting. Bandeau bras are ideal as a layering piece under cut-out tops, and often come in bright colours with patterns or lace, since they’re made to be shown, not hidden.

Bustier +

Sometimes called a longline bra, a bustier has adjustable straps and underwire like other bras. What distinguishes the bustier is a lower band of material that covers part of your torso for extra support and a smooth silhouette. A bustier is a good option for women with large cup sizes as it provides extra support lower on the body to take the pressure off your shoulders.

Bra Straps +

Bras have a band underneath the cups with an adjustable hook closure and adjustable shoulder straps, so you get a perfect fit. As they’re worn every day, bras stretch out faster than most other clothes, so the adjustable bra straps ensure you still get a close fit even after months of wear.

Contoured Cups +

Some bras have contoured foam or gel cups that mould themselves to your breasts for a smooth and seamless silhouette. Because of the extra cup padding, contoured bras hold their shape better than other bras with fabric cups.

Corset +

A corset is most commonly worn under wedding gowns because it provides support without straps. It also covers the torso and waist for a slimming silhouette without seams.

Cup Size +

Bra sizes are guided by cup size, which can range from A to N. Bra cup sizes refer to the measurement across and underneath your breasts; to get the right size, you need to measure both. If your breasts overflow your cups, your bra cup size is too small. Conversely, if you have gaping cups, the cup size is too large. Bra cups can be lined or unlined, reinforced with underwire or wireless, and packed with extra padding or made from thin fabric. The features you choose will help you achieve the look you prefer and the functional support you need.

Demi-Cup +

Demi-cup bras have a lower cupline than other bras, so you can wear low-cut tops and dresses without worrying that your bra will be visible. Demi-cup bras can also have padding and underwire to provide lift and support.

Fasteners and Closures +

Most bras have hook fasteners with three adjustments so you can maintain a close fit even as the bra stretches with wear. The closures can be at the front or the back of the bra. Sports bras and bandeaus don’t usually have fasteners, but their stretch fabric lets you pull them on easily over your head. T-back and racerback-style bras are available with and without fasteners. On some bras, the fasteners and closures are positioned low on the back to keep them out of sight when worn under backless shirts and dresses.

Full-Cup +

When you need extra support or coverage, a full-cup bra fully conceals the breast without enhancing or exposing cleavage like push-up bras. For women with large breasts, full-cup bras can also have thicker straps to provide comfortable support that doesn’t dig into your shoulders.

Lingerie Sets +

Matching bras and panties can be purchased in sets. This allows you to easily coordinate your underwear and to choose matching sets to be worn as lingerie on special occasions.

Mastectomy Bra +

Mastectomy bras come with a cup pocket to fit breast prosthesis for women who have had one or both breasts removed. These bras are specially designed to help make the healing process more comfortable.

Material +

Bras are generally made from a soft, stretchable fabric that conforms to the body and is comfortable enough to wear all day. Sexy bras like lace bras and sheer bras feature see-through fabrics like satin or silk that can be worn every day and on special occasions as lingerie. Sports bras are made from breathable cotton and innovative fabrics that wick sweat away from the body to keep you cool and avoid chaffing during workouts.

Padded Cups +

Ideal for women with small busts, or if you want to add a little extra oomph to your look, padded bras have cups with foam, gel or rubber lining to make breasts appear larger. Padded bras also have underwire to lift and support your bust. The extra padding can be removed for easy washing and to ensure that the bra retains its shape.

Plunge Bra +

Plunge bras have lower-cut cups, bands and necklines so you can wear deep v-neck tops without your bra showing. Plunge bras also have underwire and padding for support and to add cleavage when wearing a low-cut top.

Shelf Bra +

Also knows as a quarter-cup bra, a shelf bra has underwire and a very small cup to lift and expose the breasts. Shelf bras can also describe built-in bras in camisole and tank tops that give you support without having to wear a strapless bra.

See all +

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Bra Care Tips:

• Do not dry clean your bras
• Do not iron your bras
• Hang your bras to dry vs. tumble drying them
• Hand wash your delicates to avoid damage and make them last longer
• Remove any extra padding in your bras before washing
• Always follow the manufacturer’s directions for care and cleaning

Nursing Bras

Nursing bras and maternity bras provide full coverage, with a removable cup to expose your nipple when breast feeding and quickly cover up again after your baby is finished nursing. Nursing bras also come in adjusted cup sizes, since your breast size changes while you’re pregnant and breast feeding. This type of bra doesn’t come with an underwire, has wide straps for comfort and is made from soft fabric to provide support while being gentle to your sensitive breasts.
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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