Balconette Bra vs Full Coverage: The Big Differences

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In my wardrobe, the balconette bra is the star for those days I want to feel effortlessly chic. Its perfect for low-cut tops and making a statement.

Yet, for daily comfort and unbeatable support, I lean on the full coverage bra, a true workhorse for every other moment. Its comfortable and supportive.

But there is a lot of nuance to each of these bras that I want to explain in detail.

Balconette Bra vs Full Coverage Overview

In most ways, the balconette bra and full coverage bra couldn’t be more opposite of eachother. The balconete bra is a sexy way to showcase my cleavage, while the full coverage bra is a comfortable way to support my breasts throughout the day.

But in fact, they do have some things in common. I’ll review both and highlight exactly when to wear each bra.

A woman wearing a black lace bra and black leggings is standing at the bottom steps of a white staircase in the house

Balconette Bra Overview

A balconette bra is designed to highlight your breasts. This bra style is characterized by providing more coverage without sacrificing on support and cup size. Thus, it looks better under certain clothes and on special occasions, even if it doesn’t offer as much support as other types of bras.

The bra straps on this bra are typically farther apart. In today’s culture, bra straps are typically worn closer to the underarm area rather than high on the shoulder.

This is a clever answer to the issue of bra straps showing when wearing square-cut tops. These straps’ extra width or padding may be most comfortable for women with broader shoulders.

This bra’s cups are its most noticeable feature. The coverage is over a half cup and extends an extra inch above the nipple. This bra features underwired cups, which lift the breasts slightly and make them look fuller and more prominent.

This bra is distinct in that it creates a “shelf” or “balcony” for your breasts. This bra is a must-have when I want to show off my bust. If you invest in this bra, your cleavage will increase dramatically, making you feel and look more seductive.

At the same time, though, don’t think of a balconette bra as slinky. Unlike a demi bra, a balconette bra provides ample coverage to your breasts.

Don’t mix a balconette bra up with a plunge bra. A balconette bra has a short gore in the middle, coming up high to meet the cups.

What Is a Balconette Bra (Or Is It a Shelf Bra? Balcony Bra?)

Full Coverage Bra Overview

A full-coverage style is one of the best and most convenient bras. Instead of a plunge bra or push-up design, this kind of bra hides rather than flaunts cleavage at the top of the cup.

This bra guarantees that I am comfortable and thoroughly covered. Women with larger breasts may benefit significantly from wearing these bras because of their additional support.

As far as the cups are concerned, this bra is one that completely envelops the breasts. This bra also features a sturdy underwire and supportive, elastic fabric to provide excellent coverage and comfort. This bra is designed to prevent spillage and conceal my cleavage.

These bras come in various cup sizes and shapes, and they’re made specifically to contain breast tissue inside the cups. Women with larger breasts tend to like these types of bras. Also, women who value modesty may benefit from having their chests covered and shaped this way.

As a bonus, the weight of your bust is distributed more evenly over your back when you wear this bra. The bra’s straps may be adjusted to provide a snug and comfortable fit.

In addition to providing extra support, the broad bra bands included on these garments also hide any unsightly lumps and bumps.

Balconette Bra vs Full Coverage Bra

Lets look at the similarities and differences in these two bras, and then when I wear each.

A person holds a white full-coverage bra standing near a blue couch in the living room


Due to their numerous similarities, these two bras are often confused. To name a few of them:

  • Both bra styles provide ample coverage for the breast tissue (although they do it differently).
  • Both styles of bras have padding. A full coverage bra can have a wide ranging amount of padding, from very light to relatively full. Balconette bras typically have padding at the bottom to provide a push up effect.


The balconette bra varies from the full-coverage style in a few key ways. The differences include:

  • Balconette bras boost your cleavage and shape your breasts for a sexy appearance. Full coverage bras would never be considered sexy – their sole purpose is to provide ample support for your breasts.
  • A balconette bra has cups that are only partially covered, while a full coverage has cups that are fully covered. Full coverage bras have cups that cover the whole breast, whereas balconette bras only cover half or two-thirds of the breast.
  • A balconette bra provides support with a more rounded appearance than full-cup styles. Full-coverage bras have larger cups that cover more of your breast tissue and are more comfortable overall.
  • Full coverage bras include broad bra straps that assist smooth out any bulges while offering support. In contrast, balconette bras have wide set straps designed to improve the ability to display your cleavage.

Major Distinguishing Factor

While both bras provide ample breast coverage, a balconette bra pushes the breasts up from the bottom to create a “shelf” like appearance for my cleavage.

Full coverage bras don’t do any of this – they have thick bands and straps to comfortably provide my boobs with ample support.

A person holds a red lace bra standing on a wooden floor near a gray carpet

When to Wear a Balconette Bra

A balconette bra is perfect when I want to show off my cleavage. Lets be honest – when I pair this bra style with a square cut top or certain dresses, I look good (and sexy). This bra is sexy but provides ample coverage at the same time.

Graphic image of a blue bra that explains how balconette bras are best worn to enhance cleavage

Consequently, my bust size increases in a completely natural way. This bra’s cup shape and wider straps are well-suited for women with broad shoulders and fuller breasts. Because of their adaptability, balconette bras have become a wardrobe staple for many women, me included.

This bra is versatile because it can be worn with a high or low neckline, depending on your preference. Under certain bodycon dresses, a wedding dress, formal gown, sweetheart top, or square neck dress, this bra is a must-have.

When to Wear a Full Coverage Bra

I wear a full coverage bra when I want ample support from a comfortable bra. Typically larger breasted women will turn to a full coverage bra to support their boobs, whereas smaller chested women might prefer a t-shirt bra as their everyday option.

Graphic image of a blue bra that explains that the best time to wear full coverage bras is underneath a t-shirt or thin clothing layers

Provided that your top does not have an open back or plunging neckline, you can wear this bra style on a daily basis. Most full coverage bras are seamless and do not cut across your chest like a demi bra or a push-up bra.

Multipurpose is the best word to describe the full-coverage bra. While pregnant or breastfeeding, you may wear everything from a suit to a t-shirt and perhaps nothing. You can wear this bra to the office, the classroom, or the nights when you need a little extra support.

What Is a Full Coverage Bra? (Don't Buy Your Grandma's Bra!)

Final Verdict

When I’m looking for coverage, support, and comfort, I look no further than a full-coverage bra. When I need to boost my cleavage in a sexy but comfortable way, I grab a balconette bra.


Allena is the Founder and Editor of The Better Fit, a platform dedicated to empowering women with practical advice on bras and fitness, inspired by her own revelation of the widespread issue of incorrect bra sizing. Her expertise and tips have been recognized by major publications such as Cosmopolitan, Better Homes & Gardens, Insider, and NBC, making her a trusted voice in women's wellness and lifestyle.