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16 June 14

Bra and Lingerie Glossary

Basic Bras To Know and Love

Bras can generally be broken down into three basic categories. There are other types of bras, of course, but most of them are mainly variations on one of these three.

The Balcony/Balconette Bra: Balcony bras have fans worldwide, although they’re generally referred to as balconette bras within the international market. Whatever you call them, these bras combine sexy cleavage with good old-fashioned values like support and comfort. A balcony bra pushes the breasts up up to create dramatic uplift and traffic stopping cleavage, but maintains a more traditional bra shape on the bottom. This combination means that balcony bras work on almost any body type or breast shape, making them one of the most popular bra types in the

balcony/ balconette bra

The Plunge Bra: Plunge bras started out as the sexy sister of the bra world, but they’ve now gone mainstream. As fashions get smaller, we need our plunge bras more than ever. If you’ve ever seen a lingerie ad, you may believe that a plunge bra is defined by crazy cleavage and tiny straps. The only thing that defines a plunge bra is a lower center gore (the tiny firm connector between the cups, if you’re not a bra-aholic like me), making them great to wear under v-neck shirts and low cut dresses. If you have soft breast tissue due to weight loss or pregnancy, you may have a hard time finding a plunge bra that works for you. Look for bras with narrow wires to help keep everything in place.

plunge bra


The Full Cup Bra: Full cup bras used to be the only type of bras. Unfortunately this has made the full cup bra the choice of grandmothers everywhere, which hasn’t helped it gain a following among the young and fashionable. Full cup bras have come a long way from the bullet bra days and now feature everything from white cotton to colorful fabrics with sheer cups. Full cup bras are often combined with minimizing construction techniques to create a great basic foundation under clothing. Whether you’re a fan of nude bras or crazy patterned ones, there is a full cup bra out there for you.

Full Cup Bra


Thongs, Briefs, and Boyshorts, Oh My!

The world of undies can seem like a maze when you first encounter it. Is a tanga cut and a Brazilian cut the same thing? Aren’t they really just a thong with some frilly bits? In this section, I’ll try and de-mystify the main terms you need to know.

The Thong (G-String in Australia): Thongs look like a traditional bikini bottom from the front, but have very little coverage in the back. Traditionally this makes them perfect to wear with clingy clothes where you don’t want lace or a pattern to show through. Thongs can be made out of almost any material, and range from basic to expensive high fashion pieces.

thong g-string


The Boyshort: Boyshorts are the female version of boxer briefs with a cheeky twist. They are generally cut low on the hip and have a modest amount of coverage in the back. They can be made out of simple cotton or sheer lace and rhinestones. Many women prefer boyshorts as a compromise between the coverage of a brief and the sexiness of a thong.



The Bikini Brief and Other Variations: Traditionally, the bikini brief tends to go with the full cup bra (again, think about your grandmother). That said, briefs have been reinvented and retro is cool again so there are lots of sexy and stylish options out there. A bikini brief is generally cut full and comes up to your hips or above. Retro briefs are high waisted and should come to about two inches below your belly button.

bikini brief

Loungewear – For those times you want to be comfortable but have run out of milk.

Loungewear is taking over the lingerie industry and has become a huge money maker for many companies. More and more women are wanting stylish options to stay comfortable in, and companies are responding. Loungewear includes everything from pyjamas to leggings, and often is used as part of the underwear as outerwear trend. Like any other kind of lingerie, loungewear can be made of basic cotton or more luxurious materials.

Basic loungewear items include:

  • Rompers – a one piece version of shorts and a tank top
  • Robes
  • Lounge Pants
  • T-Shirts
  • Bodysuits – a one piece leotard like item that can be worn as lingerie or as an outerwear layer

Bedroom Lingerie To Stay Sheer In

When the average person thinks of lingerie, bedroom lingerie is what they picture. It’s really the only category in this guide where you would properly picture a woman lounging around in sheer fabrics and nothing else. Bedroom lingerie is also a confusing category for the average lingerie shopping because many of the pieces look so similar. Similar sheer and lacy fabrics are used in almost all items, so it can be hard to tell one item from another.

1. The Teddy: A teddy combines both a camisole and underwear into a one piece garment that is stepped into and pulled up like a swimsuit. While the teddy had a functional place in lingerie history, they are almost exclusively designed now for use only in the bedroom. Sheer fabrics are used to produce them, including mesh.


3. The Babydoll Or Chemise: These are two terms that are easily confused, and the way retailers label things doesn’t help! Both garments have bra-like tops and are made from similar materials, but have a very different shape.


A chemise is similar to a slip. It has a bra-style top, but is short and is generally cut straight or with an A-line. Unlike a slip, it should be worn by itself. Chemises are generally delicate and decorative.

A babydoll has a similar top to the chemise, and is made from similar materials. However, a babydoll flares out to create a looser shape over the stomach and hips. Both items are short and tend to top at mid-thigh.

Other Items (accompanied by images 6 and 7): Bedroom lingerie is a wildly popular part of the lingerie market and contains a wide variety of items. Some of the more popular ones include thongs, bodystockings, corsets, and costumes. Many of these items are made from sheer materials and feature lacing, ribbons, leather detailing and cut outs.


It’s Not Your Mother’s Shapewear Anymore.

Shows like Mad Men have brought vintage shapewear back into fashion, but even before that shapewear was getting a makeover. Ever since Spanx made millions by cutting the feet off some tights, shapewear has meant big business for lingerie companies. Shapewear now can be divided into two categories: fashion and utility. Utilitarian shapewear tends to be nude in color and consists of shapewear panties and other pieces that smooth your silhouette out (Think of that scene in Bridget Jone’s Diary). Fashion shapewear is a new category that aims to correct figure flaws while staying trendy and sexy. Makers of fashion shapewear offer corsets, shapewear dresses and panties that correct figure flaws and can even help you mimic the figure of classic Hollywood stars.

Stockings 101

The history of stockings began in the 15th century, and we’re still wearing them! Modern stockings divide into two categories which we will explore, and are worn both for warmth and as fashion items.

Garter belts and Pantyhose:

In the 1940’s, all women wore garter belts to hold up their stockings. These belts hooked around the waist and had either four, six, or even eight garter straps to keep stockings in place. In this era all stockings were seamed, so garter belts not only kept your stockings up but also kept your seams straight. Understandably, by the 1960’s women were getting fed up with all this maintenance. The pantyhose was invented, which combined panties and stockings and meant that garter belts were out of fashion. Seamed stockings also went the way of the dodo bird, as one assumes these women were also tired of worrying about whether a line on the back of their leg was straight or not. In 1970, pantyhose outsold traditional stockings and have done so ever since. However, since retro lingerie has recently come back into fashion, and more and more young women are buying garter belts and traditional stockings.

Materials: Nylon versus Traditional

Nylon stockings became the standard in the 1940’s and stayed that way until pantyhose supplanted them. Now when you buy fully fashioned stockings knitted on the original machines, they will still be nylon. Modern hosiery is made from a range of materials including wool, cashmere, nylon and cotton. The difference is in the fit. Nylon has less stretch, so traditional stockings frequently sagged around women’s ankles. Modern stockings are built with lots of stretch, so they are more form fitting and work on a wider range of body types.



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