9 Bras Every Woman Should Own (Or At Least Try)

by Alysse Dalessandro

Although I have been guilty of finding one bra style I love and then wearing said style until it falls apart, I have been forcing myself to try out different types of bras as of late. And the more I've looked into things, the more I've realized how many wonderfully varied options there really are out there, for both plus and straight size gals who want to wear brassieres. (Although if you want to go braless at any size, you can totally do that, too.)

As a woman with a smaller chest in proportion to the rest of her body, I got into the habit of wearing only padded bras. It became my comfort zone, based almost entirely around an insecurity. I wore my padded bras until the wires snapped, only to go out and buy the exact same style again. Until one day I decided I wanted to try a T-shirt bra. Why not, right? The one I was eyeing touted 18-hour comfort, and I just didn't know how that could be.

Once I bought the T-shirt bra, I was relieved by how comfortable it actually was in comparison to my previous push-up pieces. Now my underthings drawer is full of options. From lace to caged, there's a bra for every mood and every outfit. And, of course, there are bras that double as outerwear, too. Here are the nine staples I think all women and bra-wearers should own (or at least try, if only once).

1. The T-Shirt Bra

Understated Underwire Bra, $64, Check It Out

Ideal T-Shirt Bra, $69, Check It Out

T-shirt bras are designed for both the wearer's comfort and for staying hidden underneath clothing. They often feature an underwire, but are smooth and seamless underneath a T-shirt.

2. The Strapless

Lilyette by Bali Defining Moments Strapless Bra, $40, Check It Out

Smooth Multiway Strapless T-Shirt Bra, $44, Check It Out

I used to specifically shop for clothes that I knew I wouldn't need to wear a strapless bra with because I hated them that much. Thankfully, there are now more options for strapless bras out there, including those in the comfy T-shirt style and others with convertible straps ideal for one-shoulder dresses.

3. The Bandeau

American Apparel Shiny Tube Bra, $6, Amazon

Strappy-Back Bandeau, $24.50, Victoria's Secret

A bandeau bra is a comfy and fashionable alternative to a strapless one. I know that I wear pattern bandeau bras as a top and plain bandeaus with strapless dresses and tube tops. There's no underwire in one of these, but there can be padding depending on the style.

4. The Push-Up

Floral Lace Push-Up Plunge Bra, $48.50, Amazon

Lepel Sophie Push Up Bra, $42, Check It Out

The push-up bra is a go-to if you want padding, underwire support, and a whole lot of lift. I remember when push-up bras in my size came only in neutrals. But now there are plenty of sexy and embellished options, too.

5. The Sports Bra

Plus Size Marble Print Sports Bra, $17.90, Forever21

Pro Classic Dri-FIT Padded Sports Bra, $40, Check It Out

Beyond being used for activewear purposes, sports bras can have a fashionable use in your life as well. They are typically constructed from very breathable fabrics and often contain mesh and cute patterns on them so that you can go full-on Sporty Spice and wear 'em as crop tops.

6. The Balconette

Isabella Lace Stretch Lace Shelf Bra, $44.95, Hips and Curves

Agent Provocateur Kaity Non Padded Balcony Bra, $90, Check It Out

I had heard of balconette and balcony bras in the past, but wasn't really sure what traits gave a bra such a distinction. Upon looking into it, I learned that a balconette style bra usually covers one half to three quarters of the breast and is designed to be worn with low-cut necklines so that the bra is not exposed. Like the push-up, this style will lift your breasts, but it won't push them together.

7. The Plunge

Temptress Lace and Rhinestone Plunge Bra, $60, Check It Out

Fashion Forms Plunge Bra, $34, Check It Out

The plunge bra is another style that's relatively new to me. It's distinguished by a deep plunge, of course. The cup is usually cut at an angle and sometimes there is padding at the bottom of it. It's a really versatile style that can über-sexy or totally practical.

8. The Bralette

Daisy Lace Non Wired Black Bralette, $19.99, SimplyBe

So Dot Right Now Mesh Bralette, $28, Nasty Gal

Bralettes are one look that has become more and more trendy over the past year. I would consider their distinguishing factor to be that they don't feature any underwire. But there's a huge variety to the styles considered bralettes. Some brands even label what I might consider a crop top to be a bralette. It used to be pretty difficult to find these styles in plus sizes, but retailers are catching up on the fact that bralettes for fuller chests are in high demand.

9. The Caged Bra

Teggings Cage Bra, $28, Re Dress

Cage Bra By Origami Customs, $57, Blue Stockings Boutique

The cage bra is arguably something that became a major trend in fashion thanks to architect turned designer Becca McCharen, the genius behind the brand Chromat. Now there are so many different cage styles of bras in both straight size and plus sizes. It's a bold take on the undergarment, and I love that this style is getting so much attention

Bras are so much more than just undergarments these days. They're a piece of fashion, in and of themselves. You can style your bra as crop top or wear it comfortably under a tee. There's just so much beauty in all the options.

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Images: Courtesy Brands