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This post is a complete guide different types of lingerie you can buy in stores today.
From bras and stockings to bodysuits and corsets, lingerie will always be an essential part of every woman’s wardrobe. Not only do these discreet items of clothing offer women some support and comfort, they also have the ability to give the wearer that much needed boost of confidence and sensuality.
Embracing lingerie’s inherent benefits, lingerie brands have made it their mission to design and craft many different types of lingerie items that cater to varying body types, and feature a range of styles. In doing so, the lingerie market has now become quite vast, and making heads or tails of what the lingerie world has to offer can be quite a time consuming task!
To help you find the ideal lingerie styles to fit your body and needs, we’ve put together a list of the different types of lingerie that might include just what you are looking for.
Whether going for a jog, getting glammed up for a night out on the town or purchasing bridal lingerie for a wedding night, there are plenty of options to choose from, so sit back and discover all the different types of lingerie on today’s market. Be sure to bookmark this page to keep this list handy for the next time you go lingerie shopping!
- All the Types of Lingerie Explained!
- Panties (Knickers)
- Bodysuits and Teddies
- Babydolls and Chemises
- Camisoles and Slips
- Corsets and Bustiers
- Girdles and Garter Belts
- Robes and Dressing Gowns
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All the Types of Lingerie Explained!
For women, bras form the foundation of any outfit.
The right bra offers appropriate breast support and lift which enhances the allure of the female curves, whilst preventing them from sagging and drooping. Apart from being functional essentials, slipping on a beautifully hand-crafted bra endows the wearer with the confidence to appreciate their natural form.
Since the invention of the first bra in the late 1880s, numerous designs are now present on the lingerie market, each offering their own unique style and perks!
Types of Bra Constructions
Before delving into the various bra designs available on the market, let’s take a look at the four main ways a bra may be constructed just as a reference point.
- Wired: underwired bras have a thin strip of wiring (made of material such as metal or plastic) stitched into the fabric of the bra. This wiring is what provides bras the ability to contour the natural shape of the breasts – the wiring lifts the bust up to achieve an appealingly rounded shape with plenty of support and provides the underwear with structure.
- Non-Wired: less rigidly structured than their underwired counterparts, wireless bras use strategic designs and advanced seam-work to provide a more comfortable bra which still provides some level of support.
- Padded: aimed at sculpting, smoothing, and supporting the breasts, padded bras use additional material to give the breasts a fuller look.
- Non-Padded: if the aim is to show off the bust’s natural shape, non-padded bras are the perfect option. With a flexible shape and cups, this type of bra offers wearers a comfortable fit.
After choosing your preferred bra construction, it’s time to pick the best style for you – and you’re not short of choice!
Of the many different bra styles on the market that can be worn underneath clothes, all are endowed with their own unique benefits and functionality.
For tops or dresses with a plunging neckline, there is no better bra than a plunge bra.
Offering less coverage but without compromising on bust support, this style of bra features a deep v-neckline that accentuates the natural cleavage. Available in padded and non-padded form, and suitable for all range of cup sizes, this style of bra is a go-to for most women!
Balconette Bra (also known as a Shelf Bra or Balcony Bra)
The balconette bra alludes to a style of bra which is distinguishable by its cups; cups that are cut horizontally and cover just slightly over half the breast, up to around the nipple line.
Most are underwired and typically have wider straps, making them practical and comfortable, as well as universally flattering. Many women love this style due to the killer cleavage they are known to showcase.
Because they offer less coverage than full-cup styled bras, a balconette bra is ideal to wear underneath low-cut tops and dresses which feature a more horizontal neckline than plunging necklines, yet their distinctly rounded and uplifting design still enhances high necklines with a form fitting style.
This style of bra also boasts a universal appeal as it may be satisfactorily worn by petite women as well as those with plus size shapes or fuller busts, providing a superb balance of lift and support thanks to wider straps and appropriate side support.
As the ultimate everyday bra, the t shirt bra offers a smooth look and a comfortable fit that may be worn on any occasion.
Its mid-coverage design is centred towards comfort and, being free of extra embellishments, and moulded with seam-free or barely-there seams, a t-shirt bra lies smoothly and discreetly under clothing.
For an extra boost on those necessary occasions, a push-up bra could be the secret weapon, or sexy lingerie shall we say, your outfit needs.
Endowed with both extra padding and underwriting, the push-up bra is designed to enhance the cleavage and provide extra volume for small to mid-sized busts.
Push-up bras are perfect for low cut tops that are intended to reveal some cleavage, and their half or demi cups are perfect for keeping the bra itself concealed.
This style of bra effortlessly creates a more youthful and playful appearance, but of course, it’s all down to personal preference!
When wearing a backless dress or halter-top, more discreet underwear is required.
Whilst the strapless bra is perfect to wear under a strapless dress or top, a multiway bra offers an even greater range of versatility. Featuring detachable straps that may be worn in multiple ways, this style of bra offers a maximum level of support and just as much versatility.
Being the polar opposite of the push-up bra, the minimiser bra is designed to make the bust look smaller without affording any discomfort.
Providing larger cups with the right amount of support whilst making the bust look less abundant, this type of bra affords a beautifully seamless silhouette to fuller-busted women.
Specifically designed for comfort without compromising aesthetic allure, bralettes are lightweight bras that are typically cup- and wire-free, and that aim to avoid any pinching or digging into the skin.
Made of stretchy and gentle material, they are great for younger females whose form is still developing, but some bralettes even use a high degree of engineering that grant full-busted women the bust support they require.
It can be argued that the comfort of bralettes far surpasses that of other traditional bras but their versatility is also what grants them so much popularity. Adorned with lacy embellishments and stylish elegance, a bralette may easily be worn as a crop top, under a sheer top or styled under a blazer for extra coverage.
Fastening in the centre of the chest, front-closure bras are far easier to clip on and take off than traditional back-closure varieties.
Front-hooking bras are an ideal option for women who have difficulties reaching their back, or suffer from arm and shoulder mobility issues.
In terms of aesthetic, front-closure bras eliminate the appearance of bumps – retaining an appealingly smooth back – and are perfect for wearing under form-fitting styles or clingy fabrics!
An alternative to wireless bras, the triangle bra gets its name from its triangle-shaped, soft cups.
Offering less coverage than plunge bras and usually made from softer material, this style of bra is ideal for smaller sizes seeking a sexy and comfortable bra style.
Sports bras are specifically designed to offer support during physical exercise and to reduce any discomfort caused by rigorous movement and sweat.
Made from moisture wicking material, sports bras are more breathable than conventional bras and their compressive design keeps the bust in place whilst freeing you to enjoy your regular HIIT class.
Naturally, not all physical activity requires the same level of support which is why there are three sports bra variations available on the market.
- Low-impact: low-impact sports bras are designed for activities and movements that have a very low degree of bouncing. These are especially great for women who wear a petite size, as well as for gentle activities such as yoga, Pilates and stretching.
- Medium impact: specifically tailored for more intensive activities – such as skiing, spinning, Zumba, power walking and hiking – mid-impact sports bras restrict movement more effectively than low-impact bras. Using more sturdy material, they provide superior structure and shaping that gives extra support when exercising.
- High-impact: when executing intensive activities such as HIIT, running or jumping rope, a high-impact bra is essential. Designed for activities which induce bouncing movements, these bras boast a higher-degree of compression, are often full coverage and offer a lot more support in the bottom band and wide straps.
Panties (Underwear, Briefs, Knickers)
Naturally, the perfect pair of panties is just what is needed to complement your favorite bra.
In fact, many panties and matching bras are available as matching lingerie sets, with most brands offering the option to be purchased separately.
In terms of functionality, a pair of panties are used to provide comfort, prevent outer garments from getting dirty, as well as to prevent any accidental wardrobe malfunctions.
Some styles also help to accentuate the curvature of the body. Yet, as with most things nowadays, a variety of panty options are available on the market and choosing the right style for you depends entirely on personal preference and functional need.
Here are a few of the more common options that many will be familiar with.
Inspired by the typical beachwear in Brazil, these panties are designed to simultaneously reveal and conceal – almost like a cross between a thong and briefs.
Timeless intimates that exude sensuality, Brazilian cut panties fall comfortably below the hips at the front but feature a flirty high-cut from behind.
Briefs are a style of panties that offer women a lot of front and back coverage.
Targeting comfort above all else, this design uses stretchy fabrics – such as cotton, microfibre, and nylon – to make them feel like a second skin.
Sitting low upon the hips and featuring narrow sides, bikini cut panties are ideal for everyday wear.
This style gives excellent full coverage on the bum for optimal comfort and are an excellent choice for wearing underneath low-rise trousers or skirts.
This female version of boxer briefs fits snuggly around the hips and offers more coverage than briefs.
Apart from being an incredibly comfortable choice, this style decreases noticeable panty lines when worn under tight and form-fitting outfits.
Although boy-shorts are not everyone’s favorite, they can still be a sexy choice of underwear that sets off a female’s natural curves.
A favorite of many, thongs are designed using more material at the front with far less at the back – resulting in very little cheek coverage.
Apart from being a flirty option, thongs are loved thanks to their ability to reduce the appearance of panty lines and bumps, ensuring a super-smooth silhouette.
This super-sexy choice of intimate-wear is essentially a type of thong, however is made with even less material.
At the front is a small piece of carefully cut fabric that conceals the genitals, whilst the back is a floss-like piece of fabric that sits in between the cheeks.
The waist band is also typically smaller than the average thong waist band, with many G-string waist bands made in the same floss-like strip of material. For the ultimately barely there G-string, crotchless panties are also sometimes available from certain brands!
Also known as foundational undergarments, shapewear is designed to enhance the female shape by using firm fabrics to remould the curvature of the body.
Shapewear eliminates the issue of visible underwear lines whilst smoothing out any unflattering bumps and lines.
Naturally there are various types of shapewear, all fulfilling various stylish and functional needs, so we’ve put together a brief list of possible shapewear that might be what you’re looking for.
- Shaping briefs and shorts
- Shaping one piece bodysuits
- Shaping slips
- Shaping camisoles
Bodysuits and Teddies
Much like lingerie sets, bodysuits and teddies offer all the benefits of matching bras and panties, in one single item.
Both of these types of intimates share a single-piece design but also harbor significant differences in style and purpose.
Primarily, bodysuits are designed to provide support and comfort by hugging one’s curves with stylish elegance. The top section is styled just like a top – which may be layered under a blazer or worn on its own in the style of a seamlessly, tucked in top – whilst the bottom section covers the torso and hips in a variety of styles, from thong to full-coverage.
On the other hand, a teddy is typically less form-fitting and made of see-through material. Unlike bodysuits, which clasp at the crotch area for extra convenience, teddies are worn by stepping into the leg holes and pulled up one’s torso. The over-all effect is one of unmistakeable allure whilst also eliminating the need to wear underwear.
Frequently featuring lace trims and other embellishments, both bodysuits and teddies harbor undeniable sex appeal as well as essential versatility and are a must have for all women!
Babydolls and Chemises
Both featuring a dress-like design, the terms ‘babydoll‘ and ‘chemise’ are frequently used interchangeably by brands and customers alike, but these two types of lingerie items are actually slightly different.
Whilst chemises usually come down to mid-thigh and boast a more figure hugging silhouette, babydolls are loose fitting nighties with a super-short hemline that reaches just below the hips. Both of these nightdress varieties accentuate the roundness of the bust and show off the female body at its best.
Camisoles and Slips
Camisoles (or camis for short!) are loose-fitting items that resemble chemises in all but length.
Featuring spaghetti straps and extending to the waist or pelvic area, these top-like undergarments provide another layer underneath one’s outerwear.
Despite being classified as underwear, these alluring and stylish items can be worn on their own in summer or styled underneath a blazer for a more professional, work look.
Sold in a variety of styles and embellishments, camisoles are so versatile that they have become essential items for any woman’s capsule wardrobe.
Corsets and Bustiers
To the untrained eye, corsets and bustiers may look almost identical.
Admittedly, these two types of lingerie share similar features, both contouring the torso to achieve a flattering shape. Yet, the purpose for each item differs, and picking between them entirely depends on a woman’s personal needs.
Often custom made, a true corset tightly pulls in the waist to achieve better curves, and this provides the bust with a natural boost without the use of padding.
On the other hand, the bustier features a built-in push-up bra that serves to accentuate the curvature of the waist.
The end result is quite similar, but whilst women with fuller busts and wearers of plus size lingerie are more partial to corsets, more petite women prefer the bustier’s more uplifting result.
Girdles and Garter Belts
The girdle and the garter belt both boast a long history but, along the years, each item has had to evolve in terms of appearance and function in order to meet the modern woman’s needs.
The garter belt – also called a suspender belt – is almost like a lingerie-style belt worn underneath clothes. Garter belts help to stop stockings from slipping down thanks to strategically placed clips or snaps.
On the other hand, girdles are form-fitting garments that reach below the hips and are worn to support and contour the lower torso. Girdles are also said to offer therapeutic pressure helping to combat stress and anxiety, whilst achieving a flattering silhouette.
Think socks, pantyhose and thigh-high stockings, hosiery refers to all garments that may be worn on the legs and feet.
Originally worn by males – both for protective purposes as well as to embellish their outfit – nowadays, hosiery has become a staple of all women’s wardrobes!
Both hosiery and clothing brands offer a variety of styles and designs; from invisible toed tights for opened-toed shoes to statement hosiery with more distinctive embroidery.
Robes and Dressing Gowns
Robes and dressing gowns are comfortably loose garments designed to be worn when stepping out of the bath or over a chemise.
On the other hand, a luxurious dressing gown is ideal to put on whilst getting ready for a night out or to slip into for a cosy night in. Both of these items can easily be paired with other lingerie items to keep you feeling fabulously luxurious indoors.
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Christine is a woman with an eclectic range of artistic tastes. As a professional soprano with a Bachelor's Degree in Music, she carries over 15 years of experience in the classical music scene, both locally and abroad. Her passion for music is equalled by her love for literature and, more recently, Christine graduated for a second time with a BA in English.