Bra shopping is a super-personal task—intimates are, well, quite intimate, and what feels comfortable for one woman is very different from what works for another (after all, no two sets of breasts are alike.) But while we each should choose what makes us feel our best when it comes to bras, when building out a basic wardrobe, there are certain styles every woman should have in her arsenal.
Because whether it's for sliding smoothly under a T-shirt or offering extra support on days when it's necessary, having the right bra for the right occasion is a must. To get an expert's take, we tapped Lyn Lewis, CEO of Journelle, to share her perspective on the styles every woman should own (and why). Read on for a breakdown of the six styles of bra every woman should own, and shop for any you may be missing.
"We find most of our customers are looking for underwire bras to serve as their lingerie staple," Lewis tells me. "The underwire provides support, which can be especially necessary for larger cups. Women who think an underwire is uncomfortable may be surprised to learn that they are wearing the wrong size. I always tell my girlfriends that it's important to get fitted by an expert. There's a world of difference in wearing a properly fitted underwire bra that gives you support."
"Balconette bras fall under the demi category. These work great for a sloped breast shape where the weight of the breast tissue falls on the bottom. The demi will give you minimal coverage on the top and a great, natural-looking boost. It's a classic romantic cut."
"Bralettes are the same as wireless bras. Bralettes often have gorgeous straps and backs, as these are less critical to the support of the bra, making them a fun fashion accessory to show off under loose tees and summer dresses. Most bralettes work best for most shapes, but if you have a fuller or larger cup size, you'll want a long-line wireless bra that uses its larger snug band to provide support in the absence of an underwire."
"Contour bras (also called lined) are those with a thin pad in the cup inside the underwire. This pad provides shaping, structure, and (assuming there isn't heavy lace on top) creates a smooth and seamless look under even thin T-shirts and blouses."
"This is my personal all-time favorite bra silhouette. It's suited for all body types. Because the coverage on the plunge extends higher on the strap, it helps keep in full shapes and smoothes out the breast shape for slope types. Plunge bras can be lined or unlined. Some of our best-selling bras are all in this category."
"First off, I feel compelled to share a PSA: Your breasts are great and beautiful the size they are!" Lewis says. "That said, push-ups have their place, and some women love them. One thing to watch out for is a push-up bra that is too full-coverage or has stretched out in the cup over time. This can cause a ridge at the top of the bra that is visible through clothing because the fabric is so stiff and is a dead giveaway that you're wearing an ill-fitting push-up. A bit of a padding can be great too in strapless bras, as it's helpful to giving a rounded shape."