The lingerie world can be a little confusing. Who really knows what the difference is between a contour, lined, padded, pushup, and molded bra?
We do! And we're here to share the knowledge. Below is a list of all the terms you might run across in our online catalog. And if you have a question about a term you don't see below, you can always call a Bra Therapist!
A bra designed with a very low-cut back is called backless.
A balconette is a sexy, padded or unpadded bra featuring low-cut cups and wide-set straps that give the appearance of a square neckline.
The waistband of bikini panties rests on the hips approximately three finger widths below the navel. Bikini panties offer a medium coverage silhouette.
A bodysuit is a form-fitting garment that covers the torso and has shaping properties. It also often has an internal wireframe bra and snaps at the crotch.
Boning is a support structure sewn into the vertical seam lines of a garment or bra to add stabilization. When these supports were first introduced they were made from bone, which is how they got their name.
Boy Shorts or Boyleg Panties
Boy shorts are the feminine version of a men's classic underwear shape. They are generally low rise with wide, almost square-cut sides. This style is especially flattering to straight hip figures and generally prevents visible panty lines.
Bra is the shortened word for brassiere, a close-fitting undergarment for women, which is worn to support and give contour to the breasts.
A bralette is an unlined, soft cup bra that resembles a very short crop top. Bralettes are ideal for teens, women with smaller bustlines, or individuals who want a bra to sleep or lounge in.
Briefs are traditional panties with waistbands that rest at the natural waist. They provide full back and side coverage.
A bustier is a bosom-to-hip corset-style garment. Additional features may include detachable garters, flexible boning, optional shoulder straps, and a lace-up closing.
A camisole is an underpinning designed to smooth the torso and add opacity to a silhouette. Some camisoles have spaghetti straps with adjustments, and they can be made of a variety of fabrics ranging from laces and embroideries to cotton and microfiber.
The center gore of a bra is the structural piece of fabric of a bra that connects the cups to the frame of the bra. The center gore or center front of a bra should always lay flat against the body.
A chemise is a garment similar to a full slip with built up straps.
Contour bras have cups that are molded with foam and they often have underwires, which mean that they hold their shape even when not being worn. Contour bras add definition and a smooth shape to the breast while they eliminate nipple show-through. A contour bra is the perfect choice for anyone wanting to wear a t-shirt or fine gauge knit sweater.
A control brief is a panty shaped like an ordinary brief but that flattens the tummy and gives support to provide a smooth silhouette. Control briefs are great undergarments to wear with form-fitting pants and skirts.
Control camisoles are sleek, lightweight, and provide medium control of the tummy and waist. Control camisoles come in modern silhouettes, many with built in bras.
A convertible bra is one having straps that detach and can be worn in a variety of ways including–criss-cross, halter, strapless, or one-shouldered. Convertible bras can be worn with a variety of tops, including boatneck, halter, and asymmetrical necklines, making them a great addition to a lingerie wardrobe. Many convertible bras come with clear straps to make them even more versatile.
Cookies are oval shaped, removable demi pads usually made of fiberfill, which are used in push-up bras to create a dramatic, adjustable, enhancement of the breast. Placing a cookie in the bra cup can also give breasts a more even look if one is smaller than the other.
A corset is a boned, close-fitting undergarment that contains a bra and waist cincher. Corsets are almost always hooked and laced and usually have garters attached to the base. A corset supports the breasts from underneath and usually pushes them up and over the neckline edge.
Cotton is a natural fiber that grows in seedpods. Regular cotton fibers are typically one half an inch to two inches long. Staple fibers, longer than one and one half inches, include the Pima and Egyptian varieties, which are the ones that produce the highest quality cotton fabrics.
Décolleté refers to both the place on a woman's chest just above her bustline and the low-cut neck on a garment that exposes this area.
Demi Cup Bra
A demi bra is one whose cups sit lower on the bustline exposing the top part of the breast and may have wide-set shoulder straps. These sexy, flattering bras wear well with low-cut, wide, or square necklines.
Elastane is also known as Spandex, which is a synthetic fiber known for its exceptional elasticity. Stronger and more durable than rubber, elastane is ideal for fabric blends used for lingerie because it helps create a perfect fit. Elastane’s trade names are Lycra® and Dorlastan®
Elastic is the stretchable fiber, yarn, or tape made from natural or synthetic rubber. Most waistbands and leg trims in intimate apparel are made from elastic because it is highly resilient.
Embroidery is a design created on fabric by sewing with special stitches and colored thread. Embroidery may be done either by hand or machine.
A foam cup is the padding in a bra that gives it shape.
Front Close Bra
Front close bras have their closure mechanisms on the chest rather than on the back. Front close bras offer a totally smooth back, and they are also extremely convenient to put on.
Full Coverage or Full Cup Bras
Full coverage bras are those with cups that cover the entire breast. Full coverage bras are great for women with larger cup sizes.
Full Figure (Plus Size)
Women who wear bras sizes 34-44D-H and larger are classified as full figure. Bras made in these sizes are usually designed to give additional support.
The strap hanging from a garter belt or bustier which holds stockings in place is known as a garter.
The halter is bra style featuring straps that fasten behind the neck, making it perfect to wear with backless dresses. This bra style also often converts to criss-cross or one-shoulder configurations.
The hi-cut brief is a moderate to full coverage panty with a high cut leg that usually sits at the waist.
The hipster is a mid-coverage panty, which is a cross between a bikini and a brief. Hipsters sit low on the hips, both at the front and at the back, making it perfect to wear with low-rise jeans.
Hook and Eye Closure
The hook and eye is the most common type of fastener used on bras. Most bras have several columns of hooks and eyes so that the band length can be adjusted to fit slightly different sizes. Many full figure and plus size bras contain additional hooks and eyes for added strength.
Jacquard (Jacquard Knit)
Any fabric that has a pattern woven into it rather than printed on it is known as jacquard. The name comes from Joseph Marie Jacquard who designed a loom attachment capable of weaving patterns into fabric. When a pattern is woven into a double knit fabric it is known as a jacquard knit.
A keyhole is a design feature that creates an arched opening in the center front panel of a bra.
Knit on a loom, lace is a type of fabric with intricate patterns. The length, width, and thinness may vary depending on the loom used.
Some bra cups have a lining to make them extra supportive, opaque, and to reduce nipple show-through.
Long Leg Shaper
A style of shapewear usually resembling a bicycle short that controls and shapes the waist through the thighs.
Lycra® is the spandex fiber produced and trademarked by DuPont®. It is lightweight and soft, but stronger and more durable than rubber.
Mesh is an open-weave knitted or woven fabric that produces a net or sheer-like effect.
Microfibers are usually a blend of polyesters or polyamides. Fabrics constructed of microfibers are lightweight and feel luxurious because the filaments are much finer than silk. Fabrics made from microfibers are known for being very light, smooth, soft, hard-wearing, and breathable.
A minimizer bra redistributes the breast to make the bustline appear smaller. On average, Wacoal minimizers reduce the breast cup size up to one inch.
Muffin top is the term used to describe the roll of flesh that falls over the top of pants. Selecting shapewear with a higher waist can eliminate this look.
Moisture wicking fabrics keep the skin dry by drawing wetness away. This is a great feature to look for in a sports bra.
A trademark of Darlington Fabrics, Naturexx® is a moisture-management finish that wicks dampness away from the skin keeping the wearer cool and dry.
Opacity refers to how much of the body can be seen through the garment.
Padded bras have lining in the cups. Graduated padding is thicker at the base of the cups and creates a natural looking silhouette as well as the appearance of increased cleavage. Padded bras are a good choice for women with smaller busts because they enhance the size and definition of the breasts.
Petite bras come in sizes 32-36 AA, A, B, and C, and they are all about body proportion not just height. Small busted and slender women with narrow back measurements often require petite-figure bras.
A plunge bra is designed to reveal more breast for a sexier look. Plunge bras create the appearance of increased cleavage because of their deep (plunging) front silhouette, angled cups, and thin center gore; they differ from push up bras in that they are not heavily padded.
Point d’esprit is a net of cotton, silk, or nylon often called a bobbinet or tulle covered with oval or square dots woven in an irregular pattern.
Polyester is the name of a manufactured fiber and a fabric, and it is second only to cotton in worldwide use. Its ability to stretch and resist wrinkling makes it a popular fabric for lingerie. Polyester has high strength, excellent resiliency, and high resistance to abrasion. Low absorbency allows the fiber to dry quickly.
Powernet is a high performance, durable fabric constructed of nylon and Lycra® that enhances support and control.
Push Up Bra
A push up is a bra with additional padding at the bottom portion of the cup to lift the breasts in order to give the illusion of greater chest size. Some push up bras are designed to push the breasts both up and in to create more cleavage for lower necklines.
Racer back bras are designed for a no-show fit under tank tops. Most convertible bras can be worn racer back. Many front-closure bras also have racer backs. A racer back is also known as a t-back.
Rayon is a man-made fiber produced from cotton fibers, wood chips, or other vegetable matters. It has excellent softness, beautiful drape, high moisture absorption, and a lustrous look, but it is not a strong fabric.
A scallop is a decorative border on fabric or lace made up of a series of half circles.
A seamed bra has stitching running through the cups, providing a degree of projection and shape.
Seamless bras are those with cups that have been molded into a permanent shape and fit. This type of bra offers a smooth, almost transparent, look under clothing. Seamless bras are particularly effective under revealing and tight-fitting tops.
The shapewear cami offers firm control that slims the torso and smoothes the back.
Shapewear is the overall term for any type of intimate apparel made to control and shape the body, including bodysuits, all-over shapers, leg shapers, tummy shapers, thigh shapers, and waist cinchers.
Silicone is a rubber-like polymer, which maintains its elasticity over a wide range of temperatures. Silicone is sometimes used inside the top of hold-up lace stockings so that they cling to the skin and can be kept from falling down without the help of garters.
Soft cup bras do not have underwires, but may be padded or lined. The absence of underwire doesn't equal a lack of support. There are many unique construction design features that make soft cup bras very supportive and comfortable.
Spandex, also known as elastane, is a synthetic fiber known for its exceptional elasticity. Spandex is stronger and more durable than rubber. The most famous brand name for spandex is Lycra®.
Sports bras are specifically designed to offer the appropriate amount of support during moderate to intense physical activity. They also tend to be made from performance fabrics that wick moisture away from the skin. A good sport bra can reduce breast movement during exercise up to 50%.
Strapless bras are those with underwire, wide sides, no straps or removable straps, and a hook back. Many times silicone is stitched to the upper and lower edges of the bra to keep it secure on the body. Strapless bras are mostly worn with strapless tops, evening gowns or with tops where a normal bra would show.
Supplex® is one type of nylon made by DuPont®. Supplex® is lightweight, quick drying, durable, and offers the performance benefits of a manmade fabric, but it has the look, feel, and benefits of the natural fabric cotton.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure®
Susan G. Komen for the Cure® is nonprofit organization dedicated to education and research about the causes, treatment, and cure for breast cancer.
Sweetheart necklines are those that follow the natural curve of the bust. Sweetheart necklines accentuate the bustline.
Tactel® is one type of nylon made by DuPont®. Tactel® is a silky, soft nylon with a crinkle finish. It is lightweight, versatile, breathable, shape-retentive, and easy-to-wash.
A tanga is a panty option that is between a bikini and a thong. A tanga has narrower back coverage than a traditional panty, but is not as narrow as a thong. Tangas are a more common silhouette in Europe.
A thong is a popular panty silhouette with a triangle shaped front panel, thin side panels and minimal coverage in back for a no-show look under clothes. A thong has slightly more fabric at the back than a G-string.
Three-Section Bra Cup
In the three section style, each bra cup has two seams that create three sections. This construction is often found on full-figure bras because it gives greater support to the breasts.
A t-shirt bra has seamless cups with light padding so a woman’s nipples won’t show through. T-shirt bras are perfect underneath clingy tops and lightweight fabrics because they offer a smooth, clean look.
Underwire bras are those with sewn-in, molded wire that runs beneath the cups. They help to lift and separate the breasts for enhanced shape and support.
Visible Panty Lines (VPLs)
When a woman’s underwear shows through her clothing she is considered to have visible panty lines. To minimize or eliminate VPLs a woman should choose seamless panties or perhaps even a thong.
A waist cincher is a shaper with firm control that helps define the waistline for a smooth outer appearance.