Bra Styles Revealed: What, When and Who Introduction Finding the right bra can be such a hassle, but it doesn't have to be! When you're shopping for a bra, you need to think about your body, the clothes you want to wear and how you want to look. All these things vary from woman to woman, and even from workday to hot date night - so it all comes down to finding the right style of bra for you at that particular moment. Ask yourself whether you're looking for a cleavage bra that gives you a sexy neckline under a low-cut top, or a full-coverage bra to provide all day support under your professional work wardrobe - or something else entirely! Not sure what you need? that's where we come in! What are the Different Bra Styles? What are the Most Common Types of Bras? To make your bra shopping as easy as possible, we've put together a guide that explains all the most common bra styles. You can shop for types of bras based on your body, the clothes you want to wear, whether you've got narrow shoulders or broad shoulders and whether your breasts are firm or ample or anything in between! Browse our bra guide to find the best bra style for you, and treat yourself to a hot new bra you'll love that will actually look great on you! Next: Learn the distinctions and highlights between bra cut/style, bra construction, bras by purpose, and bras for body types. Bra Cut, Construction, Purpose and Body Types Bra Cut/StyleLooking for a bra with a certain cut? Want a bra with a specific level of coverage to wear under your favorite shirt or hot new dress? These are different bra cuts and styles, named by the way the cups are cut and worn. Balcony Bras Demi Bras Full Cup Bras Plunge Bras ConstructionThese types of bras are defined by certain details of their construction. For example, cotton bras are bras whose cups are made with cotton fabric, and soft cup bras are wire-free designs. Bras in this category may also have cuts or styles in the bra style section - but start here if you're looking for a bra with specific design features or a certain type of construction. Comfort Strap Bras Convertible Bras Cotton Bras Front Closure Bras Longline Bras Molded Bras Padded Bras Racerback Bras Seamless Bras Soft Cup Bras Strapless Bras Bras by PurposeSome bras are made to address a specific need, and usually include features, cuts and design details to make them better suited to that need. Start here if you're looking for a bra with a specific purpose in mind, like a sports bra, a sleep bra or a nursing bra. Bridal Bras and Corsets Cleavage Bras Medical and Surgical Bras Minimizer Bras Nursing Bras Mastectomy & Pocket Posture Bras Push Up Bras Sleep Bras Sports Bras T-Shirt Bras Bras for Body TypesThese are bras designed for certain body types, or for women whose bodies have specific needs - for example, maternity bras for women whose breasts are changing throughout pregnancy, or plus size bras for full-figured women. Start here if you're looking for a bra for a certain body type. Maternity Bras Full Figure Bras Plus Size Bras What is a Bra? A bra is a undergarment designed to provide support and shaping for the breasts. The word 'bra' is short for 'brassiere,' which was popularized in 1904 when a French ad used the word to describe the latest bust supporter. Vogue first used the word in 1907, and by 1911 it had made it to the Oxford dictionary. Brassiere was shortened to bra in the 1930s. A bra generally has two cups that encapsulate and shape the breasts, and a band that goes around the body that supports the weight of the bust.Most bras have straps that stretch from the cups in the front of the bra to the band in the back of the bra, and these straps provide a little extra structure to the bra, but the band itself should hold most of the weight. Bras come in a huge variety of styles and designs to accommodate every aspect of daily life. Some of these bras are customized based on the purpose of the bra, such as a sports bra or nursing bra, while other bras are characterized by the cut of the cups, like a demi cup bra. Still others are categorized by their construction, like molded cup or strapless bra. The key to finding the right bra for you is to understand what you want from a bra, and then find the right style for your needs and body type. Who Should Wear a Bra? Bras provide a lot of great benefits that make them very popular among women in western cultures. Statistics say that as many as 90% of women wear bras, so the answer to 'who should wear a bra' is: pretty much everyone! Women with large breasts who want some relief from the weight of the bust Women whose breasts tissue is loose or 'agging' and want support and shaping from a bra Women who want their breasts to stay put and not bounce or move around when they're working out Women who want to preserve modesty with a bra that prevents nipple show-through and provides smooth, feminine shaping Women who have had surgery and need a bra for medical reasons Women who have aches and pains caused by their breasts, particularly shoulder pain, back pain, or muscle tension headaches Women who have dress codes at work and need to wear a bra as a part of the work wardrobe There's really no-one who shouldn't wear a bra - it's just a matter of picking the right bra for your body type and activity. Why Wear a Bra? Wearing a bra is great for: Better posture To improve breathing (better support for the breasts enables you to open up your shoulders and breathe better) Comfort (supports the weight of the breasts) Relieving aches and pains caused by the weight of the breasts Preventing bounce when working out or being active Fighting gravity by reducing strain on the connective tissue that holds the breasts onto the chest wall Shaping loose breast tissue Supporting sagging breasts Looking fitter and trimmer Creating great cleavage Looking sexy in an intimate encounter There are as many reasons to wear a bra as there are types of bras - so add the right bras to your wardrobe and enjoy the benefits of wearing the right bra for the right activity! When to Wear a Bra With the wide variety of bras, you can wear a bra anytime. All you need is to match the bra design to your activity. Wear a great cleavage bra with your favorite low-cut shirt on a date Wear a flattering molded cup bra under your work wardrobe to look trim, fit and professional Wear a comfortable sleep bra when you go to bed to help keep your breasts from moving, shifting and interrupting your sleep at night Wear a sports bra when you work out to keep your breasts in place while you move Wear a shaping longline bra under a fabulous evening gown to look your best at a special event Wear a bridal bra under your wedding dress to look gorgeous on your big day Wear a maternity bra to provide comfort and support as your body changes throughout pregnancy Really, you can wear a bra anytime - just get the right style to suit the activity, and you'll look and feel great everywhere you go! Avoid These Biggest Bra Mistakes Unfortunately, many women have misconceptions about bra fit and sizing that can lead to major issues - and even medical problems after too long with these mistakes. Avoid these biggest bra mistakes to keep your body looking and feeling great: DON'T expect support from the bra straps - the bulk of the support should come from the bra band. If your bust is sagging, you're wearing the wrong size or the wrong bra for your body type. If you spend too long with straps that dig in to your shoulder to 'provide support' for your breasts, you can experience severe shoulder grooves and disfigurement - don't risk it! The most common fit issue is wearing a band size that's too large and a cup size that's too small. Get fitted to ensure you're wearing the right bra size! AVOID tight underwires across the breast tissue - if an underwire is tight and it's laying directly across your breast tissue, this can lead to grooves on the breasts and permanent disfigurement over time. The underwire in a properly fitted bra should cradle your breast and lie directly against your chest wall. If the underwire is laying directly across your breast tissue, either the breast isn't properly positioned in the bra (try the 'scoop and swoop' to position your breasts inside the cup) or the bra cups aren't the right size - most likely too small. Get fitted ASAP to find the right bra size and prevent permanent disfigurement! DON'T assume you're a certain size just because that's what you're wearing! 4 out of every 5 women are wearing the wrong bra size, mostly because they bought that size once - probably under the guidance of a sales clerk who didn't have the right size in stock or didn't know how to measure - and that sticks forever as 'my size.' Get measured twice a year for size, and check the brand size comparison to see what size you should be wearing in a particular brand. Correct sizing resolves 90% of bra issues - and is WAY more comfortable and flattering - so stop thinking you're a particular size and get sized! Statistics show that as many as 80% of women are wearing the wrong bra size.The biggest bra mistakes are caused by poor bra fit, so see our fit guide to measure yourself and figure out what bra size you should be wearing. Start doing it right from an early age, and get fitted at least twice a year, to prevent problems in the long run!