Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Choosing a Frame Part One - Full Coverage and Balconette

Now that you know how to properly fit yourself (Apples and Oranges), the next step is deciding what type of frame best suits your body and your needs.  “Frame” refers to the structure of the bra.   The different frame styles include:  Full-Coverage, Balconette, Racerback, Strapless, Push-up, and Bustier. But before I delve into Frames, let’s take a moment to look at the anatomy of a bra.

 Strap:  The straps are generally elastic and stretchy.  They usually adjust using a sliding clasp.  Sometimes the adjustment moves only part of the strap, other times it runs the entire length of the strap (which allows you to tighten it more).
Cup:  The cup is what holds your breasts.  Cups have several different types of construction, which I will discuss at greater length in a future post.
Closure:  The closure snaps the bra together.  Usually the closure is found at the back of the bra, but there are front closing styles as well.
Side Panel (Wing):  Begins on the sides of the cups and extends around to attach to the clasp ends of the bra.
Center (Bridge or Gore):  Holds the cups together and adds stability and support
Underwire: a metal or plastic wire that is sewn into the base of the cups to help keep their shape and add support.
Band:  The elastic found at the bottom (and sometimes the top) of the bra that holds it in place around your ribcage and keeps the material from stretching out too much.

“Coverage” is the key word here.  Generally, larger breasted women prefer the full-coverage bra because the extra fabric lends itself to support and keeps bulging to a minimum.  Usually these bras cover a large range of sizes, although many omit the band size 32 and the cup size A.  They are built with wider bands and side wings, and often have thicker straps and a stronger bridge than the other bra frames.  The cup style is generally triangular, with the tops of the triangles attaching to the straps and the sides of the triangle formed to generously meet the wings just at the armpit. 
The up-side: Not having to worry about accidental spillage or bounciness;
The down-side:  Not exactly the bra that will “wow” the significant other in your life.

I have cleavage and so can YOU!
Also known as the “Demi” style, the balconette has a low cut frame whose cups run horizontally across the breasts – it looks wider than it is tall. If your band size is a 36 or higher it is generally better to go with the balconette style because it is a wider cut; Its cups tend to extend a little bit further towards the armpits which keeps the extra “armpit cleavage” at bay.  This style also gives the illusion of cleavage even without extra padding (although padding does help accentuate it even more- think Glenn Close in Dangerous Liaisons – if you haven’t seen it go rent it immediately).

The up-side:  It is generally thought to be sexier and more flattering than the full-coverage and it’s great for boat- necked shirts;
The down-side:  If you’re working with “melons,” there is potential for nipple peeks.

Next time:  Racerback and Strapless!!

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