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what is a push up bra

The popularity of the push up bra is undeniable. In fact, in one survey, women named this garment as the greatest fashion invention of all time. Certainly, they create equally stellar decolletage under a cocktail dress with a plunging neckline as they do under a V-neck T-shirt. And for small-chested women, the push up bra offers the chance to create more cleavage.

But exactly how do push up bras work? And are they for everyone? In this guide, we’ve delved into the details on this well-loved style.


Firm support (typically from underwire) and specially constructed padded cups enable a push up bra to lift the breasts, giving the appearance of more cleavage. The padding is usually sewn directly into the interior of the cups, and given that it’s placed at the bottom, it gives the breasts a boost. The degree, material and placement of the padding will vary, so finding the right push up bra for you will depend on not only your breast size and shape but also your goals. Depending on the design, a push up bra can potentially increase the bustline by two cup sizes or more. 


Just because push up bras can make small bustlines appear bigger doesn’t mean they’re only for A cups. Women who are seeking a little lift and more shapely, rounded cleavage can also benefit from wearing one.


Push up bras typically come in plunge, demi or balcony cuts since they are aimed at creating extra cleavage. Some designs may feature embellishments such as embroidery, but there are also plenty of practical, seamless designs with no extra detailing that can be worn under thin knits and form-fitting apparel without showing through. Not all push up bras come with underwire, either. So when choosing a style, consider whether you’re seeking more lift (which underwire will offer) or the illusion of a larger size (which is where padding comes in). If you’re wearing a low-cut ensemble, plunge and demi-cup push up bras are your best bet — otherwise you can opt for a style that offers full coverage.

Related: How To Tell If A Bra Fits In 4 Easy Steps

 what a push up bra does

Parfait Matilda Push Up Bra P531116 | Parfait Matilda Hipster P5315 in Black

How To Get The Perfect Fit

Found your perfect push-up bra? First, make sure it fits flawlessly to get the optimal effect when wearing it. You should be able to wear it comfortably on the loosest hook-and-eye closure so that with time, you’re able to tighten as needed. When putting one on, it’s a good idea to lean forward slightly and physically place your breasts into the cups to ensure they’re resting on top of the underwire and/or padding.

Then, when you straighten up, make any necessary readjustments to ensure you don’t have any spillage over the top of the cups or on the sides. You want all of your breast tissue to be in front of the underwire on the sides of the cups. If you find your breast tissue spilling out, you may need a larger cup size. Finally, adjust the straps so that the bra offers adequate lift without digging into your shoulders at all.

All in all, push-up bras are a popular style with very good reason: They instantly add some eye-catching oomph to any outfit. When it comes to choosing the right one for you, it’s all a matter of knowing whether your priority is lift or shaping, and just how much cleavage you want to achieve.

Related: 6 Laundry Tips That Will Make Your Bras Last Longer

We Highly Recommend

Whether you’re shopping for new everyday bras or lingerie for a special occasion, it’s always a good idea to seek out a second opinion. We know how hard it is to find bras that fit well and feel good, especially when you’re doing it on your own. If you’ve ever felt unsure about your bra size or you just don’t know where to go to find good bras, it’s time to let a bra fitter help.

Many specialty lingerie boutiques offer bra fittings. Their expert bra fitters will take the pain and frustration out of bra shopping and do all the work for you. Even better, their product knowledge can save you time and money. Plus, they know where all of the best bras are hiding.

If you’ve struggled with finding bras in the right size, it’s time to make a change. Visit our specialty store locator to find a store near you and schedule an appointment.

Happy bra shopping!

Feature image lingerie:
Matilda Push Up Bra P53116Matilda Hipster P5315 in Nude
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Published by

Rebecca Strong

Rebecca is a Boston-based freelance writer who focuses on style, fitness, food, and travel. She has contributed to such publications as HuffPost, Elite Daily and U.S. News & World Report. When she's not writing, she can be found at home or in the studio working on the songs for her upcoming album. Her favorite bra is a black demi-cup style with all-over-lace — timeless and feminine.

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