1. J-Hook– An integrated hook fastening situated on the straps of a bra to enable conversion into a racer back style. J-Hooks are built into the bra straps so won’t come off and are there for you to adjust the strap position into a racer back; where the two straps are pulled in across the back to meet above the shoulder blades in the middle.
2. Central Gore/Bridge – This refers to the non-stretchy section of material that joins the bra cups in the middle. Depending on the style of bra the gore may be a sort of triangle shape or more of a bridge shape, hence why some are referred to as the bridge. The central gore may be quite shallow on some styles of bra, such as ‘Plunges’ or ‘Push-ups’ while it will be deeper on other styles such as Full Cups and some Balcony styles.
3. Wing – The side of the bra starting from the outside edge of the underwire through to the back of the bra. The Wing forms the part of the Underband that sits on the side of the torso. Different styles of bra will have varying depths of Wings and some will have boning to offer additional support.
4. Underwires – These are the C-shape-ish wires that make the shape of the bottom and/or sides of the cups and support each breast in their own cup. Usually the wires are encased in a material sheath then either this forms the bottom of the bra at the front or they are then sewn onto a Cradle at the front of the bra.
5. Moulded Cups – Describes bras that have permanently heat moulded foam shaped cups, when they are not worn the cups maintain their shape as if filled by breasts. To maintain the shape of the cups and the support of the foam, these bras should be stored flat in a drawer with both cups pointing upwards, they should not be folded or one cup squashed into another, as this will damage them. Theses bras are great for offering that little bit of padding and sculpting without having a traditional padded bra. The ‘padding’ is more subtle, thinner and is usually just the foam material that the cups are formed from. Some moulded cup bras can have graduated padding where the foam at the bottom and side of the cup is thicker and then gradually lessens towards the top and middle of the cups. This is usually for push-up style plunge bras to boost the bust, pushing the tissue upwards and together whilst still appearing full at the bottom of the cup.
Soft Cups – This refers to bras that have no under wires in their cups, they are often a popular choice for pregnant and nursing mothers or young teens looking for their first bra. They can also be a comfortable option for lounge wear or a sleep bra. Soft cups can be supportive if well-constructed and fitted, however they will never offer the same level of support as a wired bra, especially if they are made from lighter lacy or mesh fabrics. C cup plus ladies should not use them for everyday wear only occasional wear as they simply will not give enough support long term.
6. Cut & Sew Cups – This term refers to all bras with cups made by sewing two or more shaped fabric pieces together. Different types of Cut & Sew cups offer different shapes and levels of support. Vertical seams in a cut and sew cups offer extra support and uplift, horizontal seams, depending on the firmness of the seam and its placement can offer more projection and a slightly conical look. Generally Cut & Sew cups are made of up to four parts, each type offering a different look and support option.
7. Apex – The high point of the cups where the cup fabric joins the strap. Some bras will have a lower apex, such as Balcony bras, where-as others, such as Full cups or High Apex bras will have much higher points to the cup. This is really about your style choice of bra and what clothes you will be wearing over the top.
8. Neckline – Refers to the outline shape created by the top of the cups and the bra straps, often relating to a type of neckline on clothes; for example square neck, bandeau or plunging/v-neck.
9. Underband – Describes the band of elasticated material that forms the anchoring base of the bra. The band size is measured in inches, however if you measure the actual band of a bra it will often be less than in inches than its size. This is because the bands are all elasticated for a firm fit to the torso; some will be tighter than others depending on brand, style, material and construction. The whole underband or band incorporates the wings and the cradle of the bra, although these areas can be referred to separately.
10. Side boning – This is a little piece of flexible plastic boning that helps to support the band of the bra at the wings near to, or at the underarm on the band. They are a vertical strip sewn into the side wing to provide additional anchorage. These bones are not present on every bra, most often they are on strapless bras to help support the band in the absence of straps, or on bras with wider bands to prevent the band from rolling up.
11. Cradle - Refers specifically to the portion of the underband that encases the underwires and joins them to each other. The cradle of the bra is where the underwires are sewn into the band.
12. Hook & Eye Closure – These are the little hooks and fasteners at the back of the bra, typically bras will have two rows and three columns, while others may have two columns or just one. Longline bras will have more rows as the band is wider, the number of rows and columns depends on the style of the bra and the support level it need to give, bras for bigger busted ladies tend to have more hooks and eyes.
13. Graduated Cups/padding – this refers to the shape of the padding within a padded bra. Instead of having removable padding or a separate piece of padding in one portion of the cup a graduated cup bra will have thicker padding at the bottom of the cups and to the side that then gradually thins out to the top and centre of the cup. This ensures there is no thick ‘step’ of padding at the neckline, which would be visible under clothes. This type of padding also shapes and contours the bust to enhance the cleavage by pushing the breast tissue up and inwards, whilst keeping a full look to the bottom of the cup.