A bra is a piece of lingerie that is meant to support your breasts and give them shape under your clothes. While this is the general purpose, no two bras are alike. In fact, there are many different bra designs that offer their own look and benefits. Some bras are more practical in their design and simply offer full coverage and support while other bras like the petal bra were made to be more revealing, sexual, and feminine in their design.
The Balconette Bra
Sometimes known as the shelf bra, the balconette bra is made to lift the breasts and enhance their shape while forming deep cleavage. While it’s similar to a demi-bra, it actually offers less coverage making it ideal to wear with more revealing tops that can’t be worn with other bra styles. The cups cover slightly more than half of the breasts usually stopping just over the nipple. There is also no curve to the balconette bra as it is cut horizontally across the top.
It also features straps that are set wider apart than the average bra. This is to help the smaller cups offer good support and lift. Balconette bras usually feature an underwire, too. There may also be vertical seams on the lower edge of the cups to aid in support. These features are also what create deep cleavage. With a good balconette bra, your breasts will look fuller at the top while also appearing rounder overall.
A Brief History of the Balconette Bra
Balconette bras were first made in the United States in the late 1930s but didn’t make it into the mainstream fashion world until the 1950s. Famous movie star Marilyn Monroe was known for wearing one helping the style soar in popularity. Its flattering design along with the practical support it offers makes it more functional than other similarly sensuous bras making it a popular option for women who don’t want to compromise style for comfort.
Thanks to innovations in fashion, balconette bras come in a wide range of colors, cuts, patterns, and fabrics so there is something for everyone. As a matter of fact, balconette bras are so popular that some designers are even merging the style with other bra styles making things like balconette t-shirt bras and balconette plunge bras. These integrated styles take the horizontal cut of the balconette bra along with its support structure and use the features of the other bras to create complete designs. While most balconette bras don’t have lining or padding, there are some that have lining for more coverage or you could change your mind completely and go with a strapless bandeau.
Who Should Wear a Balconette Bra
Balconette bras are versatile and can really be worn by anyone under any circumstances but due to the nature of the bra it’s best suited for:
- Women with broad shoulders
- Wide neckline shirts (low cut shirts, square necklines, etc.)
- Women with smaller breasts looking for extra lift
- Enhancing the look of cleavage
Popular Bra Styles
Every bra has something to offer and is made to wear with certain outfits and in certain situations. Here are some of the more popular bra styles other than the balconette bra.
- The Push Up Bra
As the name implies this style of bra is made to push your breasts up and closer together to create alluring cleavage and lift. They’re usually padded with silicone gel or a type of foam on the underside of the cups to create the lifting effect. You can find push up bras in different degrees from a gentle push to an extreme lift.
- Padded Bras
This type of bra features passed cups to prevent nipples from showing through thin clothing. They’re made in a variety of ways so you can find them with or without wires and in different coverage styles and shapes.
- The T-shirt Bra
This is an essential bra that is made in a way to look virtually invisible under your clothes. They’re seamless and smooth making them ideal to wear under tight garments. Offering gentle but strong support, they are also available in different cuts from full coverage to plunging necklines.
- Convertible Bras
This type of bra features straps that can be moved around to accommodate unique necklines. You can wear them with one strap, strapless, crisscrossed, and in other ways depending on what you’re wearing.
- Strapless Bras
Obviously, this style is a strapless brassiere that is meant to be worn with shoulder-baring clothing. It has wired cups for support and usually features additional vertical seams to help the bra keep its shape and stay up without straps.
- The Bandeau Bra
This type of brassiere is made of a piece of stretchable fabric that is usually slipped on over your head and around your bust. There are no straps or cups. There are also no fastenings and usually no wires. This is a casual bra that doesn’t offer much in the way of support but it is comfortable and great for sleeping or lounging at home.
- The Bralette
Unlined, unpadded, and wire free, the bralette can be worn as lingerie or even as clothing depending on the design. For that reason, they usually are stylish featuring lace around the edges or similar embellishments meant to be flaunted. This is great for women looking for a sexy style for a night out.
- Sports Bras
These are made to provide strong support to your breasts so that you can run and jump without worrying about your chest bouncing all over the place. The support helps strain and stress on the breast tissue while also giving you added confidence so you don’t feel self-conscious while working out.
- The Plunge Bra
This is designed for those super low-cut outfits that are meant to show off your cleavage. It has a deep plunge in the middle of the cups while molding to the shape of your chest. This bra is meant to give you support while staying out of sight.
- Sticky Bras
Completely strapless and backless, this bra adheres to your breasts to give you some coverage and support while still being able to be worn with backless or sheer garments. They usually feature silicone gel without wires, seams or even real fabric in some cases.
- Mastectomy Bras
Specially designed for women who have had mastectomies, they’re made with prosthesis pockets (usually silicone) in the cups to create the look of real breasts. They feature soft fabrics and a special anti-microbial lining to keep the skin clean.
- Nursing Bras
Designed for women nursing their children, these bras have a unique feature that allows you to open up the cup to breastfeed comfortably without having to remove the bra. They’re discreet so you can nurse your child in peace without worrying about showing too much skin.
- Maternity Bras
These feature molded cups and stretchy fabric so they can adjust to a pregnant woman’s ever-changing body. They may also feature the open flapped cups of nursing bras so they can be worn after pregnancy.
- Minimizer Bras
Larger busts aren’t always ideal and some women want to reduce the look of their breasts in certain outfits that might make them look too provocative or inappropriate. They’re made in a way to reduce the circumference of your breasts as well as the projection of them by rearranging the breast tissue in a way that makes them look smaller. They also provide strong support.
- Longline Bras
These bras extend lower than the bust line usually down toward the belly button. They have wide bands and are made to make you look slimmer by smoothing out any ripples. They usually feature stylish and sexy designs that are meant to be seen by that special someone.
- Cami Bras
This is a camisole made with the traditional support of a bra. These have full cups and usually higher necklines so no cleavage shows. They may feature padding or underwires for support and lift. They’re great to wear underneath open neck sweaters for a more modest look.
- No-Sag Bras
For women dealing with sagging bras, this bra can help. Usually made of no-stretch, high-strength fabric, the bra is made specifically to hold breast tissue in place firmly. There is also a reinforced structure including a wide back and thick straps to help prevent sagging. This bra is great for women who have lost a lot of weight and experience tissue sagging or for women who have nursed children causing their breasts to lose shape.
- The Cage Bra
Featuring a multi-strap design in the back as well as on the neckline, these padded bras are meant to be seen. They’re perfect for wearing under a sheer outfit or with a backless dress for a sexy peek-a-boo look. Along with this style, they can also offer support since they’re padded and sometimes have underwires and supportive seams.
Most of these styles have been merged in ways where their best features are used together to create better designs that offer a variety of benefits.
The balconette bra is a great bra that is versatile, stylish, and functional. It offers a fun, flirty look while also providing you with some coverage, support, and some serious lift. With so many styles to choose from and creative designs available, you’re sure to find a balconette that fits your personal taste.