Glossary of Lingerie Terms
A 2-part cup is where the cup is made with 2 panels of fabric that are sewn together. Bra cups with seams such as this are always more supportive than bra cups without seams.
Embellishment on a garment where decoration is made by cutting pieces of one fabric and applying them to the surface of another.
This term is used when describing how a bra closes. Traditionally, a back closure bra has two rows of hook and eye closures and three adjustments. Full figure and strapless bras usually have three rows of hook and eye closures as well as three adjustments.
The fabric strips that start at the outer edge of the bra cups, go under the arms and then attach in the back.
This is another name for a demi cup bra. A balconette bra has more of a horizontal line going across the top of the bustline. Most of the time, the cups are seamed for an upward boost to give the breasts the look as if corseted. A balconette bra can also have push-up pads as well. The name balconette comes from men in the balcony of a theater looking down upon women. A balconette bra could not be seen from above.
Bamboo fabric is made from the pulp of the bamboo grass. It is light and strong, has excellent wicking properties, and is to some extent antibacterial. The use of bamboo fiber for clothing was a 20th century development, pioneered by several Chinese corporations.
Bamboo is highly water absorbent, able to take up three times its weight in water. In bamboo fabric, this translates to an excellent wicking ability that will pull moisture away from the skin so that it can evaporate.
Bamboo also has many antibacterial qualities, which are retained through multiple washings. This helps to reduce bacteria that thrives on clothing and causes unpleasant odors. It can also kill odor-causing bacteria that live on human skin, making the wearer and his or her clothing smell much less. In addition, bamboo fabric has insulating properties and will keep the wearer cooler in summer and warmer in winter.
Boning can be made out of steel, metal spirals (mini springs) and various types of plastic. Boning is usually incorporated into a vertical seam line in order to give more support, structure and body contouring to a garment. The name comes from the fact that actual bones were originally used in undergarments to give support.
Resembling a short, this panty is sometimes also called a culotte, shorty or hot pant. Offering full coverage in a modern silhouette, boyshorts are a perfect everyday alternative and offer comfortable coverage under skirts. They are also popular teamed up with a camisole and worn around as loungewear. A boyshort has a lower leg cut and thus an inseam that is usually around 1/2" to 1" long. Many women claim this panty style eliminates panty lines under tight-fitting clothing.
A pad that is built into the bottom of the cup to push the breast up and out to create more cleavage.
The center gore or center panel is that piece of fabric in the center of your bra that connects your two cups together. The size of this center piece helps to determine a bra's support. A supportive bra will have a center gore that comes up the nipple line. A lower center gore works best for plunging necklines.
Comfort bra straps have a wider than normal strap and usually have additional padding. They help to more evenly distribute the weight of the breast, and thus increase the comfort of the wearer. Comfort straps give helpful relief to a woman who experiences shoulder pain caused by her bra straps.
A contour bra is another name for a t-shirt bra. It has cups that hold their shape, even when not being worn. The cups are seamless, molded and shaped with a foam to prevent nipple show-through. Contour bras are similar to a molded bra, except molded bras generally do not have any cup padding. Contour bras are always molded. Contour bras are a perfect choice for any woman seeking a sculpted silhouette, as they offer a significant amount of coverage and control. A contour bra can also add definition to the breast, a smooth shape, and elimination of nipple contours. Contour bras are a good choice for in-between bra sizes, or a woman with uneven breasts.
A panty shaped like a brief but designed to flatten the tummy and give support while providing a smooth silhouette.
A convertible bra has straps, which can be worn in up to six different configurations: conventional, halter, one-shoulder, off-the-shoulder, crisscrossed, and strapless. Some convertible bras have straps that are attached to the cups. These convertible bras can not be worn in all six configurations. Be sure to look at our images to see if the front of the strap is removable. Realistically, a convertible bra over a cup size D may not work as effectively as smaller cup sizes
A padded insert in the cup of a bra. Though usually made of fiberfill, a cookie can also be made with water, oil or a gel. Cookies help to change the shape of the breast. They also help when one breast is smaller than the other. Placing a cookie in the bra cup of the smaller breast will give you a more even look.
A woman's support undergarment that is boned and close fitting. It is almost always hooked and laced. It begins either above or just below the bust and extends down to the waist or below the hips. Usually garters are attached at its base. A corset supports the breasts from underneath and usually pushes them up and over the neckline edge. A corset is similar to a waist cincher that stops below the breasts.
Cut & Sew Bra
A bra with seams in the cups is a cut and sew bra. Most lace cups are cut and sew. The more seams there are in the cups, the greater the support.
A bra style with a very low-cut front panel to create a dramatic cleavage-enhancing look. Decollete is also used as a noun to describe a woman's chest area just above her bustline. As an adjective, it describes the low-cut neckline in a garment.
A demi cup (or demi or half cup) style bra means a contoured underwire design with a large portion of the upper half of the cup being cut away to expose the upper part of the breasts. The shoulder straps are also set farther apart (wide-set). Such bras are often referred to as being decollete‚ and are worn when the top of a garment is cut low, wide or square. Men find this style bra very attractive on women. This style has many names and can be miscalled a balconette or a shelf bra
Enhancers create the illusion of a fuller bust line. Enhancers are often built into the bras themselves rather than as the traditional inserts. The Wonderbra was the original bust enhancer.
Padding and shaping in the cup of the bra is created with foam. Such padding does not bunch up during washing and gives a smooth look to the cup.
Foam Lined Cup
A foam lined bra cup gives the wearer modesty by preventing nipple show through. Foam lining is always thinner than a padded bra and usually does not add much size. Rather, foam lining creates a natural and youthful silhouette.
A "pre-war" term for shapewear, these undergarments were called foundations because of their similarity to concrete. Ladies who wore them were seen as "solid citizens" while those who refused came to be known as "loose women." Today's shapewear fits and feels like a second skin--coaxing your curves into their smoothest, sleekest, most naturally perfect state.
A bra that closes in the center front with either a plastic barrel closure or a hook and eye closure. A good style for plunging or v-necklines.
Women who have larger breasts but smaller band sizes, such as a 34DD.
A full cup bra completely covers most of the breast, offering both more coverage and more support than a demi cup or half cup bra. A full cup bra will not cause a crease or indentation along the top of the breast. Having said this, many lingerie manufacturers will use this description and the bra will not actually be full coverage.
Women who wear bras sizes 32-36DD and 38-42C-DD and larger are classified as full figure women. Bras made in these sizes are usually designed to give additional support. Common features include padding, wider shoulder straps, and triple hook and eye closures.
A bra with this characteristic will have banding under the cups, substantial side wings, and closures with two or more hooks.
A belt worn around the waist with four clips or garters to keep stockings (not pantyhose) up and in place. A garter belt can be purchased in a variety of colors. Lingerie fashion etiquette dictates that the color and design of the garter belt match the stockings and panties.
A triangular or diamond shape piece of fabric inserted into the seams of a garment to offer more shaping.
A bra style featuring straps that fasten behind the neck. This bra is perfect for backless dresses. This bra style can many times also convert to criss-cross or one-shoulder configurations.
Also known as a "French cut" brief, this panty is high-cut on the leg and sides yet offers full coverage in back
Hidden underwires is a bra construction technique where the bra's bottom edge does not have underwire casing, so looks like there is no underwire. The underwires are wrapped, then sandwiched between two layers of fabric. This construction is also called "floating wire."
Women with large and/or heavy breasts can find this construction uncomfortable because this style can roll under their breasts.
A mid coverage panty, which rests lower on the hip than a brief. the rise is shorter, so the waistline of the hipster is well below the navel. A hipster is a perfect solution for wearing under low cut jeans.
Inner slings are another name for support panels in a bra cup. An inner sling can be a curved strip of fabric that follows the natural curve of the bra, similar to an underwire, except soft. This fabric is rigid and sewn inside the cup to provide additional support. An inner sling can also go around the entire breast circumference, or just be panels on the sides of the breast.
A padding, or stiffening fabric, either sewn to the wrong side of the lining or the inner side of the outer shell fabric. The interlining is used primarily to provide warmth.
A generic term for a plain knit fabric without a distinct rib. Originally made of wool, jersey fabric was first manufactured on the island of Jersey.
This is a design feature that creates an arched opening in the center back or center front panel of a garment.
Knit fabrics are made the same way a knitted scarf is made by someone at home with two needles and a ball of yarn. Knitting is a process that loops a piece of yarn in a row a few times, then links those loops with another row of loops and so on. Knit fabrics are naturally stretchy because of the loops in the fibers. Knit fabrics include jersey, mesh, toweling, felt and fleece.
Rather than cutting fabric the traditional way, a laser is used, but only on synthetic fabrics - otherwise, a fabric could catch on fire. The advantages of laser cutting include no raveling, and a flat seamless edge.
The name "Leavers" derives from the loom used to create this lace. The Leavers machine introduced the production of intricate lace patterns similar to those created by hand. Leavers looms are the only machines capable of working with a high number of threads, reproducing the intricate work of hand made lace. The lace created is distinguished by high definition design. The length, width and the thinness may vary depending on the machine used.
A bra frame style featuring cutaway wings with little or no banding under the cups.
A bra with a lining in the cup. This lining gives additional support and added opaqueness to the cup. It also helps to reduce nipple show-through.
A midriff-slimming bra with to-the-waist panels for extra smoothing. This can offer the shaping of a corset.
The rise is the measurement between the waistband and the first horizontal seam of a panty (usually where the crotch begins). The average brief or panty has a 6-inch rise. A low rise is when the rise measurement is less than 5 inches
Memory foam is being used more and more in bras. The same foam you see in the mattress commercial where the girl is jumping but the water glass is not moving, when used in a bra cup this foam will shape more to your body, then return to its original shape once taken off. This advantage means that your bra cups will not develop creases that are hard or impossible to remove. Storage of memory foam bras is not as important because the shape will pop back if crushed.
Fabric made with microfiber means that the fabric’s filaments are extremely fine – much finer than silk. Microfiber fabrics are thus lightweight, and look and feel luxurious. Because microfiber filaments are packed so closely, they can prevent moisture from passing though, yet allow airflow. Usually a blend of polyester or polyamide (nylon) fibers, microfiber fabric is known for being very light, smooth, soft, hard-wearing and breathable.
A minimizer bra gives the appearance of reducing the projection of the wearer’s breasts. This allows the woman to more easily wear front-button shirts and blouses without gaping. A minimizer bra works by designing a cup that distributes the breast flesh more towards the underarm and the center front to reduce your breast protrusion. A minimizer only shifts the mass in areas other than directly in front. No bra can actually reduce breast size.
Molded bras have cups which are machine molded from a single piece of fabric into a shape the manufacturer feels mirrors the preferred natural breast shape without any seams. Molded bras are usually unlined and may be either soft cup or underwire. They are seamless to create a smooth silhouette, unless overlaid with lace.
A molded bra with thin foam or fiberfill lining which causes the cup shape to stand alone is known as a contour or t-shirt bra.
No-Wire (soft-cup) Bra
A bra without underwires, that is especially comfortable for everyday wear. It can also be padded or lined.
A completely synthetic fiber, nylon is known for its superior flexibility and excellent resilience. Quick-drying nylon fabric is naturally hydrophobic and resistant to shrinkage and wrinkling. Developed in the 1930s by scientists at Du Pont, nylon was the first truly synthetic fiber to be commercialized. Nylon fibers have the luster of silk and their tensile strength is higher than that of wool, silk, rayon or cotton. Nylon washes easily, dries quickly, needs little pressing, and holds its shape well since it neither shrinks nor stretches. Another name for nylon is now polyamide.
A bra with padded fiberfill cups. The padding adds size and definition to give a well-proportioned look to smaller bustlines.
Unlike traditional bra straps, padded straps mean the arc of the strap that rests on the top of the shoulder has padding for additional comfort. A padded bra strap is also usually wider for added comfort.
A small, embroidered, loop forming an ornamental edging on a ribbon or lace.
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. Plunge bras differ from push-up bras in that they are not heavily padded.
A two-way, stretch, nylon fabric that provides excellent support. Also used in high-end compression garments, powernet has high compression with low stretch qualities to give you outstanding support without stretching out and losing its strength. Bras with powernet will last longer and stretch out less than bras using other stretch fabrics.
A bra with additional padding at the bottom portion of the cup, to lift the breasts, in order to give the illusion of greater breast size. Recently, push- up bras now are designed to both push up and in to create more cleavage for lower necklines. The padding, if removable, is known as a "cookie.
This bra is named after racing swimsuits that also have straps meeting in a "V" shape on the back between the shoulder blades. This bra style is an excellent solution for sleeveless tops. It also prevents straps from slipping off the shoulders.
Bra straps not made with elastic are called rigid straps. Full figure bra sizes many times have rigid straps because they give more support than elastic straps. A rigid strap is adjustable. Sometimes a manufacturer will have a rigid front on a bra strap and then have a piece of adjusting elastic down the back.
The rise is the measurement between the waistband and the first horizontal crotch seam of a brief or panty . The average brief or panty has a 6" rise. A low rise is when the rise measurement is 5" or less.
Any bra that has seams running though the cup. A seamed bra tends to give more support than a seamless bra because seams determine the cup's exact shape and size. The best supporting bra has seamed cups and made in 3 pieces.
A bra with cups that have been molded into a permanent shape and fit. This bra gives a smooth and almost transparent look under clothing. They are particularly suitable under revealing and tight-fitting tops.
An underwire bra with little or no cups. This bra will support your breasts while displaying most of your breast including your nipples.
A side sling can be a vertical panel of fabric incorporated into a seamed cup bra that helps to center and contain the breast tissue. A side sling can also be an addition vertical piece of fabric sewn inside the outer edge of a cup to perform the same function.
A rubber like polymer, which maintains its elasticity over a wide range of temperatures. Used inside the lace top of hold-up stockings to cling to the skin and keep the stocking up without garters.
A bra without an underwire is called a soft cup or wire-free bra. Maternity, sports and teenage bras traditionally were always soft cup bras. But not any more - there are underwires available in all these styles. Soft cup bras now have great support as well. A soft cup bra is a great solution for a woman who never can find a comfortable underwire bra. Soft cups come in all size ranges. When fitting yourself in a soft cup bra, the center front may not completely sit flat on your sternum, but it should still separate your breasts.
Spacer foam, also called spacer fabric, is a very expensive knit used as the cup fabric in molded bras. It is a knit that has both a top and bottom layer, with filaments between - similar to a corrugated box. This creates air pockets between the layers. All of this is knit as one piece of fabric. The advantage of spacer foam is that it is very light weight, breathes, can be thinner than traditional foam used in contour bra cups, won't yellow, yet provides modesty like a contour cup bra.
A synthetic fiber made from polyurethane. It is lightweight, highly elastic, strong, durable and non-absorbent to water and oils. A great alternative to people allergic to latex. In Europe, they call this elastane.
A support bra worn during exercise that minimizes breast bounce. It is comfortable, and gives good support. Its design includes wider straps, and broader cup coverage. Sports bras usually have a sports level rating from High Impact to Low Impact. Women really should have a variety of sports bras if they do more than one sports activity.
A rigid fabric interlining that restricts the stretch of selected areas of the garment to allow for better support.
An underwire bra with 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. Mostly worn with strapless tops, evening gowns or with tops where a normal bra would show. A strapless bra must be the right size - too loose, and you have no support, too tight and it will work it's way down your torso. In fact a well fitting strapless bra could reveal your true bra size because there is no fudging on size with a strapless.
Bras made with Lycra fabric, which lends a smooth, sleek look as well as freedom in movement, comfort and fit.
This is the other name for a contour bra. Like a molded bra, the cups are seamless with a thin layer of foam included for shape and modesty against nipple show-through when wearing form-fitting tops. T-shirt bras are always seamless, have contour cups, and have no lace or ornamentation.
Bras with sewn-in molded wiring that runs underneath the breast in each bra cup. This support feature helps to lift, separate and shore up the bustline for better shape and extra support- especially for full-figured women. There are many different types of materials used in underwire bras today. The underwire can now be a flexible wire, a plastic coated piece of metal, or a molded plastic shape.
The side/back panel of a bra that counterbalances the front so it can uplift and support the breasts.
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