bra glossary

This glossary contains the bra terms used on the JustMySize.com website.

Adjustable Straps:
Most but not all bras allow you to loosen or tighten the straps for your best fit. A clasp is built into each strap, so it can be moved up or down, shortening or lengthening the strap.

All-in-One: (see Body Briefer)

Athletic Bras: (see Sports Bras)

Back SupportBack Support (Posture Bra):Back Support
Some bras are specially designed to provide extra support to your back. Elastic panels that criss-cross in back are one method used to provide additional support. Women with large cup sizes or women who exercise vigorously sometimes experience back strain and prefer a back-support bra. Most back-support bras are front hook, so that the back of the bra can have more support built in, so go to front hook bras to find a back support style.

Ballet BackBallet Back: (see Comfort-U)Ballet Back
A U-shaped back design that keeps straps from slipping and the back band from riding up.

Band Size:
One of the two key measurements in your bra size. Simply put, the band size is based on the number of inches around your chest under your breasts. You measure the distance around below your shoulder blades and breasts and add 5 inches. If the total is an odd number, round up. If you measure 31 inches, you add 5 to 31, for a 36-inch band size. See our bra-fitting guide. Justmysize.com offers band sizes from 36-58, one of the largest selections you’ll find anywhere.

Bandeau:
A bandeau is a tube top or alternative to a strapless bra. A bandeau is usually an elasticized fabric tube that slips over the head and has no hardware, but also offers very little support. Some bandeaus come with attachable straps and with foam pads for coverage.

Body Briefer:
A one-piece support garment resembling a swimsuit that is both bra and shaper. Provides comfortable all-over control. Some have hook & eye crotches. Body Briefers vary in where they provide control and how much control they provide. Often the built-in bra is a best seller.

Bra Fitting:
You may have read that most women wear the wrong size bra. That is partly because bra size changes over time. Experts recommend getting a bra fitting annually. You can use our bra-fitting guide to measure yourself accurately.

Breathable Bras:
Want to stay cool when your day heats up? Choose breathable bras. Some are made with special fabrics designed to wick moisture from your skin, so you stay comfortably dry. Others have cup linings with tiny air pockets to allow refreshing ventilation. Others rely on mesh fabric for ventilation. Most sports bras have breathability features. Also see Cooling Comfort bras.

Camisole Straps:
Camisole straps are back-adjustable. In front, the strap narrows gradually from the cup to the shoulder with no hardware on the front side.

Chafe:
An object that chafes rubs against the skin in an uncomfortable way that may lead to redness or skin irritation. Some lingerie has features – such as covered elastic – to prevent chafing. Lingerie that fits you properly should never chafe.

ComfortFlex Straps:
Padded straps that flex to adjust to your body when you move.

Comfort Strap® Bras:
Your bra straps should never dig into your shoulders. Playtex Comfort Strap® bras have wide cushioned straps that disperse pressure, relieve strain, and ease dig-in. Some comfort straps are cushioned with fiberfill. Others are filled with gel.

Comfort-U Bra:
The Bali name for a bra with a U-shaped back design that keeps straps from slipping and the back band from rising. Generic term is ballet back.

Convertible Bras (2-in-1, Strapless):
With today’s fashions, the shoulders of your shirts can be “bare” anywhere. Sometimes you'd like to wear a strapless or one-shoulder gown. Or a halter top. Or a racerback tank. But who wants bra straps peeking out? Your solution: a convertible bra. Convertible bras have detachable straps that allow several wearing options. Remove the straps to go strapless. Attach them halter or crisscross style to wear under sleeveless tops. Even attach one strap diagonally to wear with one-shoulder fashions. A must for every woman's wardrobe. Some convertible bras come with “regular” and “clear” straps. Some “strapless” bras are really convertible bras because they come with removable straps. Look for convertible bras in specialty bras.

Cooling Comfort:
Playtex Cooling Comfort bras have light-as-air cups with tiny knit-in pockets that breathe to keep you cooler and drier.

Criss Cross:
Most convertible and some “regular” bras can be detached and repositioned to criss cross in back. Criss crossing the straps adds lift to the front of the bra for a nicer look under clothes. Criss cross straps can provide additional support and can make the straps “disappear” under more revealing fashions, such as racerback tops.

Cup Size:
One of the two key measurements in your bra size, expressed with a letter, such as B, C or sometimes a double or triple letter such as DDD. You must measure yourself to determine your cup size. Do not guess. Re-measure yourself as often as once a year because cup sizes change over your lifetime. The easiest way to determine your cup size is to use our bra-fitting guide. A DD cup size is the same as an E cup and a DDD is the same as a F cup, which is why you seldom see cup sizes E or F listed.

First determine your band size. Then, wearing a comfortable bra but no shirt, measure loosely around your chest and bust at the fullest part of your bust. Then subtract your band size from this measurement. The number of inches difference between your band size and your bust measurement equates to your cup sizes. (See bra-fitting guide). JMS.com offers cup sizes from A-M, one of the broadest selections you’ll find anywhere.

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Delustered:
When a fabric is delustered, it is treated to remove the sheen from all or parts of it. When a bra is described as delustered, it usually means there is a soft pattern on the surface of a shiny, usually satin, bra. The matte (non-shiny) sections show the pattern against the shiny background, as if it has been printed. The delustered pattern is the same color as the shiny surface, but the matte finish makes it visible. Unlike a pattern created by weaving or embroidery, the delustered pattern would not be distinguishable by touch.

Detachable Straps: (see Convertible)

Double-Layered:
Some bras have double-layer cups. Two layers provide more coverage (to prevent show through). In some bras, the inside layer may be softer, provide lift or padding. In sports or active bras, the inner layer may wick moisture away from the skin.

Dig-in:
Lingerie that fits properly will never leave indentations or red lines anywhere on your body. If you see signs of irritation, you are probably wearing the wrong size bra. When a bra strap is bearing too much weight or a band is too tight, it can “dig in” to your skin, causing indentation. Styles such as Comfort Strap® bras are designed to prevent dig-in.

Embroidery:
A raised needlework design on a fabric.

Foam-Cup or Foam-Lined Bras:
Do you wear knits, t-shirts, or other body-conscious styles? Then you'll want at least one foam-lined bra. Foam bras have cups lined with sleek, thin stretch foam, made of non-allergenic material. This foam conforms to your curves for gap-free custom fit. It provides smooth, natural shaping. And, best of all, it helps block nipple show-through, so you can wear clingy clothes with confidence. Plus, since this foam is thinner than padding, it doesn't add extra bulk.

When stretch foam is ultra-thin, it's called micro-foam. When it's contoured — thinner in some areas and thicker in others — it's called graduated foam.

Front-Close or Front Hook Bras:
Most bras fasten in back, usually with hooks and eyes. But front-close bras fasten in front with either hooks or clasps. This allows fast, easy "on / off." Ideal when you're dressing in a hurry. Great for women with arthritis. And because some front-hook bras have only a clasp between the cups, they are perfect with low-cut tops. Many front hook bras are designed for extra back support. Usually front hook bras only have one adjustment, so choosing the right size is especially important.

Full-Figure Bras (also called Plus-Size Bras):
Generally defined as a bra size of 38C or larger, but can include large band sizes with smaller cup sizes (like a 42A) or larger cup sizes with a smaller band size (like a 36 DDD). Justmysize.com specializes in full-figure bras in cup sizes from A-J and band sizes from 36-58. Many full-figure bras are custom-designed for plus-size silhouettes, with additional support built into the construction. Often they have wide cushioned straps or foam lining and closures with four or more rows of eyes. Full-figured bras come in both underwire and wireless and include sports, leisure, front hook and nursing.

Full-Support:
Full-support bras provide lift and support via clever design details: seamed cups with banded edges, hidden under-cup slings, wide side wings, plus two- or three-hook or more closures. They may be either wirefree or underwire.

Gel Straps (Gel Comfort Strap® Bras):
Prefer bras with cushioned straps? Then you'll love our gel-strap bras. The straps are infused with silicone gel, so they're especially light on your shoulders. They disperse pressure more evenly, relieve strain, and ease dig-in, for comfort hour after hour. The Playtex styles with this feature are called Gel Comfort Strap® bras.

Hook & Eye Closure:
Most back close bras use a hook & eye fastener. There is a set of 3 or more tiny wire hooks down one side of the bra opening and a set of 3 or more tiny wire eyes (or loops) down the other side of the opening. The hooks fit securely into the eyes. Often there is more than one row of eyes, so you can loosen or tighten the fit of the bra. The eyes are on the outside of the bra, so when the hooks are slotted into the eyes, there is no wire on the inside to touch your skin.

Inner Band:
Many full-figured bras, especially wireless full figure bras, include a cushioned band on the inside of the cups to provide additional support to the breasts.

Inset Straps:
These straps angle in, toward the inside of your back, which helps keep them in place on your shoulders and avoids slippage.

Jacquard:
Jacquard fabrics have a raised design or pattern woven into the fabric, rather than sewn or printed onto it. Almost always a jacquard pattern is the same color as the fabric. An elegant alternative to embroidery. Named for the inventor of the first weaving machine that could produce jacquard fabric.

Laminated Cups:
Laminated-cup bras are a lot like molded-cup bras. The cups consist of two fabric layers bonded or sealed together. These cups look sleek, not bulky. Yet their two-ply construction gives them extra strength for better support and shaping.

Leisure Bra (Sleep bra):
Soft, comfortable easy-to wear alternative to going braless when you’re relaxing at home. Ideal for sleep or downtime. Leisure or sleep bras are soft, stretchy, and made of smooth, breathable cotton or nylon. They can provide coverage and comfort without causing irritation. Full-figured women often are more comfortable sleeping in a bra, as are women with sensitive breasts. Some leisure bras have as many as 28 sizes for custom fit, since they usually have no hardware and therefore are not adjustable. Others are front hook and may offer back support. Some women with small bust sizes use leisure bras as every day bras because they don’t need the support other bras offer.

Lightly Lined:
Lightly lined bras provide an extra layer of coverage for modesty and no-show through. The lining may also be softer against your breast tissue than an unlined bra would be. These linings are not for the purpose of augmenting your bust size.

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Magic Lift:
The famous Glamorise line of wirefree bras. The Magic Lift non-stretch foam band crosses over and under on the inside of the cups and shoulders for all-over shaping and comfort – like magic.

Maternity Bras or Nursing Bras:
During pregnancy and right afterward, you need a special bra: a nursing / maternity bra. Maternity bras come in softer fabrics to pamper tender tissue. The cups usually stretch to accommodate changing breast size. Plus, the cups have special openings for easy access during nursing. Some leisure bras are designed so that the cup can pull aside for nursing. See specialty bras.

Mesh:
A loosely woven fabric that has a large number of closely-spaced holes, sports mesh fabric is lightweight, durable, soft and sometimes stretches. In lingerie it is used mainly in sports bras for cool ventilation and breathability.

M-Frame:
The bra construction that made the Playtex 18 Hour wirefree bra famous. You can see the M-shaped frame in the way the bra is designed, for plenty of long-lasting support that lifts, shapes and remains comfortable, even during 18-hour days. The frame around the sides of both cups offers a custom fit that moves with you.

Microfiber Bras:
For skin-caressing softness, nothing beats microfiber fabric. This high-tech synthetic is made with ultra-fine filaments, tightly knit for super smoothness. So, it's literally softer than silk. Plus, it breathes well, for cooling comfort. Microfiber bras can be nylon or polyester, often with a little added spandex for stretch-perfect fit.

Minimizer Bras:
Do your blouses gap in front or do you sometimes feel you have an abundance of riches (especially under a tight top)? You need a minimizer. Minimizer bras reduce your bustline one and a half cup sizes or more. They gently redistribute tissue to shape and streamline your curves. Result: Your clothes fit and feel better. Choose from seamed and seamless minimizer bras, in both wirefree and underwire styles.

Moisture-Wicking Bras:
Nobody wants to feel hot and sticky. A moisture-wicking bra features special fabrics that pull moisture away from your skin. (It's called "wicking.") The moisture then evaporates quickly and leaves you comfortably dry. Moisture-wicking bras are most commonly sports bras but they can also be everyday styles.

Molded-Cup Bras:
These cups conform to your curves and mimic your body's contours because the fabric is molded on a cone-shaped form. So, they fit like a second skin...and work with your shape, not against it.

Non-Stretch Straps / Rigid Straps:
If you wear a larger cup size, you may appreciate a bra with non-stretch (rigid) straps. A non-stretch strap won’t become too loose over time and will provide extra stability. Some bras offer stretch straps in B and C cups and non-stretch straps starting with D cups.

No-Slip Slide:
Another great feature for larger cup sizes and for exercising. This special slide allows you to adjust the bra strap length without worrying that the strap will slip while you’re wearing it, becoming too loose. Count on these bra straps to stay just as comfortable all day as when you put your bra on in the morning.

Plunge:
A bra that is cut deeply between the cups is described as plunge. A plunge bra can provide flattering cleavage without the bra showing and is ideal under low-cut or deep V-neck fashions. Often front-hook bras are plunge because the cups are connected only by the clasp.

Plus-Size Bras (Also called Full-Figure Bras):
Generally defined as a bra size of 38C or larger, but can include large band sizes with smaller cup sizes (like a 42A) or larger cup sizes with a smaller band size (like a 36 DDD). Justmysize.com specializes in full-figure bras in cup sizes from A-J and band sizes from 36-58.

Many full-figure bras are custom-designed for plus-size silhouettes, with additional support built into the construction. Often they have wide cushioned straps or foam lining and closures with four or more rows of eyes. Full-figured bras come in both underwire and wireless and include sports, leisure, front hook and nursing.

Posture Bras (Back Support):
Some bras are specially designed to provide extra support to your back. These bras are usually called back support or posture bras (because it’s easier to have good posture when your back gets sufficient support). Elastic panels that criss-cross in back are one method used to provide additional support. Women who sometimes experience back strain may prefer a back-support bra. Most back-support bras are front hook, so that the back of the bra can have more support built in, so go to front hook bras to find a posture bra.

Push-up Bras:
Push-up bras make your cleavage look fuller, rounder, and sexier. The cups are cleverly angled to give your bustline a boost. Plus, they usually have graduated foam to shape and enhance your bust. Sometimes they have small removable pads--called cookies--for extra volume.

RacerBack Bras (T or Y back):
Racerback bras have Y-shaped backs (sometimes called T-backs) that curve in between the shoulder blades. These racing-style backs add extra support plus keep bra straps anchored in place. Many sports bras and even some everyday bras have racerback designs. Racerback bras work well under sleeveless tops: the bra straps won't peek out or slide off shoulders.

Ride-Up:
When the band of the bra moves out of place or shifts back and forth during wear. Not only is this uncomfortable, it can also be embarrassing, as the bra no longer fits properly once the band has shifted. Ride-up can also result in chafing. Many bras have features built-in to prevent ride up. A properly fitting bra will not ride up, so if your bra is riding up, try a smaller band size and possibly a larger cup size.

Rigid Straps: (see Non-Stretch Straps)

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Scalloped:
When the fabric (usually the lace) extends beyond the edges of the bra in a decorative pattern, like a tiny ruffle. A pretty scalloped edge, usually around the insides of the cups but sometimes on the straps or band, adds beauty and femininity to the bra.

Satin / Sateen:
Satin is a popular woven fabric since the middle ages with a smooth, glossy side and a dull side. Originally made from silk, it is now also made from nylon, polyester and other synthetic fabrics. A similar fabric, sateen, is sometimes made from cotton. Satin is popular for its softness and its silky, shiny appearance.

Seamed Bras (or Cut-&-Sewn Bras):
Do you prefer bras that provide extra support? Consider a seamed bra. Seamed bras are highly constructed, with two-section or three-section cups. The cup sections are sewn together (seamed). The more seams, the greater the support. Choose from both wirefree and underwire styles.

Seamless Bras:
Want a smooth no-line look under clothes? Opt for a seamless bra. Seamless bras have no seams on the front of the cups, for a sleek modern silhouette. Many seamless bras have clever details designed to add support--such as special linings and hidden under-cup slings. Sometimes seamless bras are called t-shirt bras. At least one seamless bra should be in every wardrobe to wear under form-fitting tops.

Shelf Bras:
Shelf bras provide a light layer of fabric for modesty. Usually they have an elastic bottom band that provides some support, but not as much support as a traditional bra. Shelf bras are often sewn inside camisoles and swimsuits.

Show-Through:
Show-through is when the seams of your bra or (even worse) your “headlights” show through a t-shirt or tight top. Many bras are lined or have other special features to prevent show-through. The popular Bali Concealers line has a petal design on the inside of the seamless cups to prevent show through.

Side-Smoothing:
The sides of your bra, under your armpits, should lie flat in a bra. Some women find a pocket of roundness at the side panel of the bra. Popular Playtex Secrets styles, among other styles, are designed to smooth the side panels for a more flattering look. If the side panels of your bra are bulging, you may be wearing the wrong-size bra or a bra design that isn’t right for you. A side-smoothing bra is particularly important under form-fitting tops.

Soft Cup Bras (or Wirefree Bras or Wire Free Bras):
Soft cup is the traditional name for bras without underwires. Since the cups themselves are equally soft in wire free and underwire bras, these bras are usually called wirefree today.

Traditionally, wire free bras were considered more comfortable and underwire bras were thought to offer more support. However, thanks to advances in bra engineering, many of today’s wirefree bras offer exceptional support and many underwire bras are equally comfortable. Wirefree bras use design features like criss-cross frames, inner under-cup slings, 2-ply, molded, lined, or padded cups to offer full support. So if you’ve never tried a wirefree bra because you need full support, it’s time to give one a try.

Spandex:
If your bra stretches, then it probably contains spandex. Spandex is a synthetic fiber with built-in "stretch memory." It's usually blended with another fabric, such as cotton, polyester, or nylon.

When you stretch, your spandex bra stretches with you. When you relax, it "remembers" (and recovers) its original shape. Result? You enjoy custom fit, all-day comfort, free-moving ease, plus shape-keeping durability. Many bras contain anywhere from 2% to 15% spandex.

Spanette:
This special fabric is actually owned by Playtex and is one of the reasons 18 Hour bras have been so popular for so long. Spanette is a woven fabric that provides 360-degree stretch support and custom fit. It is usually used on the side or back panels of the bra.

Sports Bras (Also called Athletic Bras):
When you move, so does your bust. It's called "bounce." And it can cause discomfort during workouts. Repeated bounce can even damage tissue. The solution? A good sports bra. Sports bras give needed support to help control jarring bounce. Most provide either medium or high motion control, depending on whether they're designed for moderate or intense activity levels. Many sports bras also wick away moisture to keep you cool and dry.

Stop the Slip Straps / Stay-Put Straps:
These straps are angled into your shoulder blades, so that the back of the bra looks like a V. That position keeps your straps in place and keeps them from slipping off your shoulders.

Strapless Bras:
If you're wearing a strapless top or dress, you need a strapless bra — a bra with no shoulder straps. Today's strapless bras stay up better than ever, and also give great support, thanks to design details such as padding, boning, and shaping panels. Many strapless bras come with detachable straps and even clear straps for multiple wearing options. See specialty bras.

Stretch Straps:
Most bra straps stretch, at least in part. This allows for increased comfort when you move. Some bras, particularly for larger cup sizes, have rigid straps to provide greater support, especially over the life of the bra.

Tag Free:
Many bras have converted from having a fabric tag in back to having the tag information printed on the inside of the back band. This keeps the tag from rubbing against the skin.

Three-Section Cups:
A bra with two seams in the cup, usually in a T pattern, is a three-section cup bra. The seams provide additional support, which is particularly helpful for larger cup sizes. Some swimsuits also offer three-section cups.

T-Shirt Bras:
Like many knit garments, T-shirts cling. Which means your bra seams (and your nipples) may show through. The solution? A T-shirt bra. T-shirt bras are almost always seamless, so they're smooth under clingy clothes. Plus, they're either lined with sleek foam or lightly padded with polyfill, so they block embarrassing show-through. A seamless or t-shirt bra is perfect under any form-fitting garment.

T-Shaped (Y-Shaped, T-Back, Racer Back):
Racerback bras have Y-shaped or T-shaped backs that curve in between the shoulder blades. These racing-style backs add extra support plus keep bra straps anchored in place. Many sports bras and even some everyday bras have racerback designs. T-shaped or Y-shaped back bras work well under sleeveless tops: The bra straps won't peek out or slide off shoulders.

Tricot Bras:
Many full-support bras come in tricot (either nylon or polyester). This finely knit fabric doesn't stretch, so it provides more stable support. Plus, since it's thin and fine, it looks and feels light and sleek. That means tricot bras bring you the best of both: full support plus airy comfort.

Two-Way Stretch:
Fabric that stretches vertically and horizontally is called two-way stretch fabric.

Underbust Band:
Most wirefree bras and some underwire bras have a band that goes across the front of the bra under the cups. This band provides additional support and uplift to the bra and may hold it in place more securely.

Underwire:
Underwire bras have flexible wires inside the bottom cups. These wires provide lift and support for a shapely, sag-free look. Usually they're plush-backed or cushion-tipped to help assure no-poke comfort. Years ago, many considered underwire bras less comfortable than wirefree bras, but with modern engineering techniques, underwire and wirefree bras can be equally comfortable. Most underwire bras offer moderate to full support, although the underwire feature itself is designed primarily for shaping, not support.

Wirefree Bras (Wire Free Bras or Soft Cup Bras):
Soft cup is the traditional name for bras without underwires. Since the cups themselves are equally soft in wirefree and underwire bras, these bras are usually called wirefree today.

Traditionally, wire free bras were considered more comfortable and underwire bras were thought to offer more support. However, thanks to advances in bra engineering, many of today’s wirefree bras offer exceptional support and many underwire bras are equally comfortable. Wirefree bras use design features like criss-cross frames, inner under-cup slings, 2-ply, molded, lined, or padded cups to offer full support. So if you’ve never tried a wire free bra because you need full support, it’s time to give one a try.

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