The world of lingerie comes with a language all it’s own. Here is my brief dictionary of terms that might not be familiar to someone new to the land of lingerie and bra fitting. There are also some terms which are defined differently by different companies/brands, this dictionary also defines them on my terms so hopefully no one gets confused!
Back Band/Band: Refers to the circumference of your bra, similar to how you take a waist measurement for jeans. The back panels are different lengths depending on what number is attached to your bra size. A 34A has longer sides than a 32B, for example, but both have the same cup size. [Bra Math page to come]
Balcony bra: This type of bra is a very specific shape. The seams of this bra will start at the strap and meet somewhere in the middle of the front wire/gore of the bra. This is a classic Freya shape. Mistakenly can refer to a Demi or Halfcup as well.
Basque: See Bustier.
Bustier: A foundation garment piece with formed cups that does up with hooks and eyes in the back.
Corset: A garment worn to hold and shape the torso into a desired shape for aesthetic or medical purposes (either for the duration of wearing this item, or with a more lasting effect).They do up with a front busk, and have laces in the back to cinch in the waist.
Overbust: An overbust corset comes up over the bust, just like it sounds!
Underbust: An underbust corset does not cover the bust.
Demi Bra: This bra creates a square neckline for the chest. This bra is often also called a
Halfcup bra. Both of these styles are sometimes mistakenly called Balcony bras as well – but the shapes are very different.
Fullcup: Very much what it sounds like, a bra that is very full-coverage. Often this shape creates an M silhouette on the body. The horizontal seams of these bras typically meet at the wire under the arm.
Garter: A piece of fabric worn around the leg for decorative purposes, usually by brides. Historically this garment was actually used to keep up socks and stockings.
Garter Belt/Suspender Belt: a wide belt of elastic with straps hanging from it, worn to hold up stockings.
Girdle: A garment that encircles the lower torso, usually extending below the hips. What I gall a girdle has suspender tabs attached for stockings as well. A girdle can have a panty or an open bottom.
Gore: The centre wire of a bra.
Halfcup bra: The name of this bra is pretty good at describing what it is. These bras create a square neckline for the breasts. This bra is often also called a Demi bra. Both of these styles are sometimes mistakenly called Balcony bras as well – but the shapes are very different.
Hold-up/Stay-up: Thigh-high hoisery that has a strip of silicone around the tops to keep them in place without a garter belt.
Leggings:Full-panty hose that are cut off at the ankles. Can be opaque or sheer.
L-Hook: This neat little feature is fairly new in the bra world. An L hook is part of the construction of the straps of a bra that allow the wearer to hook the straps together to create a racer-back.
Lined bra: A lined bra is a bra that holds its own shape. They are usually smooth and what people mean when they say T-Shirt Bra. It does not add size or volume to the breast appearance. Freya’s Deco is a prime example.
Longline bra: A bra that has fabric that comes down further on the ribcage, sometimes to the waistline.
Moulded: This can be a lined or an unlined bra. It refers to a bra that is smooth and does not have seams. The name comes from how they are made. The materials are stretched over a mold to create their shape. This also usually means a T-Shirt bra.
Padded: This term is often used to describe lined bras. For my purposes a padded bra refers to a bra that has push-up pads as part of its construction. It is meant to add size and volume to the breast appearance. Think: Victoria’s Secret.
Softcup bra: A bra without wires. Sometimes confused/interchanged with Unlined bras.
Stockings:Thigh-high hoisery that needs a garter belt to keep it in place.
Tack: A term that means that the wires of a bra touch/hug to your body.
Tights: Refers to full-pantyhose that have 2 legs and come up to the waist.
T-Shirt Bra: Usually means a Lined or a Moulded Bra without seams so a smooth appearache is achieved under clothes – especially t-shirts!
This means a bra that is usually a cut and sew garment. They are just fabric, without anything to hold their shape if laid flat. They can have seams, or they can be smooth depending on how they are made. They are often confused with Softcup bras
Waspie: A waspie can refer to a boned corset style that sits only on the waist with a front busk and laces in the back, or it can mean a shapewear piece designed similarly to nip in the waist. May or may not have garters attached.
Wicking: Refers to a fabric that takes moisture away from the body and keeps you cool and dry.