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unlined underwire bra

The lingerie world is full of confusing jargon. From unlined bras to padded bras and boyshorts to briefs, you’re not alone if you ever struggle with telling the terms apart from each other.

Without a doubt, two of the most popular bra styles today are unlined bras and padded bras. These two styles offer supportive solutions for a multitude of bra sizes. Both can be made in many fabrics and range from simple to chic to sexy in design. But when it comes to design, fit, and construction, these two beautiful styles couldn’t be more different.

So how do you know if you should be shopping for an unlined bra or a padded bra? Here’s how to tell the difference between the two:

Unlined Bras

What is an unlined bra?

In some cases, unlined wire bras may have a thin layer of stretch mesh or another lightweight lingerie fabric connected to the cups as a lining. Unlined bras typically feature a snug band in a sturdy fabric like power mesh, carefully constructed cups, and a multi-hook and eye closure. The most supportive unlined wire bras are designed with three-part or four-part cups and a side sling to lift, center, and separate breast tissue.

Though you can certainly find luxury unlined bras made of the finest materials (that come with a hefty price tag to match), the most practical unlined bras are often constructed in modal, stretch lace, and stretch mesh. Unlined wire bras, like the Marion Unlined Wire Bra, offer a sexy, vintage-inspired shape, and flattering demi cup fit, while others, like the Tess Unlined Wire Bra, provide all-day support and comfort in breathable modal.

unlined bra meaning

Sandrine Unlined Wire Bra P5352 in Cameo Rose

Why unlined bras?

Unlined bras are an excellent alternative to padded bras. Unlined bras provide the support plus size busts and full figure busts need and support their shapes beautifully. Their lightweight yet supportive construction won’t add bulk to the bust line. Unlined bras are a popular choice in the warm spring and summer months, but they can also be worn year-round.

what is an unlined bra

Sandrine Unlined Wire Bra P5352 | Sandrine Hipster P5355 in Cameo Rose

Related: How To Wear Bralettes and Unlined Bras


Padded Bras

What is a padded bra?

Padded bras are typically designed with pre-formed or cut-and-sewn foam cups. The amount of padding depends on the style. Push-up bras are often heavily padded, while t-shirt bras and contour bras may not be. All push-up bras are padded bras, but not all padded bras are push-up bras. A padded bra can have a foam cup lining without push-up padding in the bottom of the cup.

Padded bras come in a few different varieties – including push-up, plunge, strapless, contour, and t-shirt bra styles. They can be made of luxe satin, like the Charlotte Padded Bra, or seamless microfiber, like the Marion Contour Padded Bra and Casey Plunge Molded Bra.

underwired padded bra

Charlotte Padded Bra 6901 in Bronze

Why padded bras?

Compared to the natural breast shape that unlined bras enhance, padded bras provide a smooth, rounded shape under clothing. A woman with asymmetrical breasts may choose a padded bra to make her breasts look more symmetrical. T-shirt bras are a popular padded bra style that works for a number of occasions. They can be worn to work, under fitted tops and dresses, and even under wedding dresses, which only increases their versatility.

No matter which style you choose, both unlined wire bras and padded bras make a brilliant addition to any lingerie wardrobe. Once you find the right style, it will likely become your new favorite bra. If you’re having trouble shopping for new bras or if your bra size has recently changed, why not do yourself a favor and get a bra fitting too?

padded balconette bra

Charlotte Padded Bra 6901 | Charlotte Bikini 6905 in Bronze

Related: Bra Shopping Tips: How To Shop For Supportive Bras


We Highly Recommend

Whether you’re shopping for new everyday bras or lingerie for a special occasion, it’s always a good idea to seek out a second opinion. We know how hard it is to find bras that fit well and feel good, especially when you’re doing it on your own. If you’ve ever felt unsure about your bra size or you just don’t know where to go to find good bras, it’s time to let a bra fitter help.

Many specialty lingerie boutiques offer bra fittings. Their expert bra fitters will take the pain and frustration out of bra shopping and do all the work for you. Even better, their product knowledge can save you time and money. Plus, they know where all of the best bras are hiding.

If you’ve struggled with finding bras in the right size, it’s time to make a change. Visit our specialty store locator to find a store near you and schedule an appointment.

Happy bra shopping!


Featured image lingerie:
Tess Unlined Wire Bra P5022 in Charcoal

Published by

Katie Donnelly

Katie Donnelly is a full-time freelance writer, content manager, and founder of Katie Rose Creative. An experienced bra fitter, Katie has helped hundreds of people shop for lingerie. Her favorite bra is the Sandrine Plunge Longline Bra.

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