how does push up bra work

Every bra has its purpose and knowing what distinguishes similar styles is crucial to making sure you buy the best ones for your body and your needs. Two styles that are commonly confused are contour bras and push-up bras. While they do have some similarities, each will offer different benefits that may prove to be a better fit for you, depending on your preferences.

Not sure whether to shop for a contour bra or push-up bra? Here’s the skinny on what separates these two popular styles.

What is a contour bra?

what is a contour bra

Parfait Marion Contour Padded Bra P5391 | Parfait Marion Hipster P5395 in Lapis Blue

This highly structured bra may or may contain padded (but is at the very least lined) cups that are molded into a very particular shape that enhances a woman’s natural curves and sculpts breasts in a symmetrical, rounded shape. Most of these bras typically bras hold their shape even when they’re not being worn, while others are more malleable depending on the fabric. Most, but not all, contour bras have underwire.

What is a push up bra?

what is a push up bra

Parfait Matilda Push-Up Bra P53116 | Parfait Matilda Hipster P5315 in Nude

With foam pads that are strategically angled at the bottom of the cups, this style pushes the breasts together and upward to amp up your cleavage. Push-up bras generally have underwire and can add up to a cup size or more to the appearance of your bustline. They typically feature a very low center gore. Some have foam pads that are sewn into the bra, while others have removable pads.

How are they similar and different?

Both contour bras and push-up bras have molded cups and typically include underwire. As a result of thicker cups, they can prevent your nipples from showing. These styles both offer supreme support and lift, and also tend to be seamless, so they work well under t-shirts and fitted tops. As a general rule, contour bras offer notably more coverage than push-up bras, which tend to have a plunging neckline and narrow center gore.

Want some shaping and definition without adding a cup size? Contour bras are probably the way to go. It’s hard to beat the contour bra when it comes to shaping and smoothing out your breast shape without dramatically boosting your cleavage. If you’re seeking some va-va-voom cleavage, though, a push-up bra is your best bet.

Featured image lingerie:
Lynn Y-Back Front Closure Bra P13122 in Black | Lynn Push-Up Strapless Bra P13112 in Black | Lynn T-Shirt Bra P13011 in Nude

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Rebecca Strong

Rebecca is a Boston-based freelance writer who focuses on style, fitness, food, and travel. She has contributed to such publications as HuffPost, Elite Daily and U.S. News & World Report. When she's not writing, she can be found at home or in the studio working on the songs for her upcoming album. Her favorite bra is a black demi-cup style with all-over-lace — timeless and feminine.