What Is a Bustier Bra?

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You may see bustier bras from medieval costumes, lingerie shops, and fashion magazines. However, what is a bustier bra, and how is it different from other bras? For this article, I’m going to explain everything about this bra, including its origin, features, and when to wear it.

What Is a Bustier Bra?

A bustier bra is a strapless shapewear with built-in cups and a band that extends down the torso, waist, or hips. Its flexible boned structure hugs the torso tightly while the cups push the breasts up. With a form-fitting design, it can shape the waist and accentuate cleavage.

A green bustier bra with sequins and broad bands placed on a gray background

Bustier bras have been around for years, yet some women still doubt this style’s functionality and beauty. Once you know its purpose and features, you’ll see how you would benefit from having a bustier bra in your collection.

Origin of the Bustier Bra

Bustiers started as part of the bodice in the 16th century, with inverted cone-shaped cups to complement voluminous multi-layered skirts. It comes from the French word “buste“, which translates to bust or chest.

Its purpose is to straighten the back, push the breasts up, and cinch the waist. By extending over the breasts to the bottom of the ribcage, the bra tightens the upper midriff to force the breasts upward.

In the historical evolution of bras, the production of bustiers incorporated nylon to make them lighter and easier to produce between 1935 and 1945. Bustier bras then became more popular as longline brassieres in the 1950s. Since the 1980s, this bra has continued to be part of lingerie and fashion collections.

Features of a Bustier

A bustier bra is a classic piece of lingerie that emphasizes the curves while lifting the breasts. It combines a number of aspects to do this.

Graphic image of a blue bra that explains that the best bustier bras have lower center gore and plastic boning
  • Band: Like other bras, a bustier’s band provides up to 80% support. Its extended band can fully support small or large breasts even without straps.
  • Lower center gore: Unlike strapless bras with a high gore, bustier bras have a lower center gore since they have exceptionally broad bands. This offers support even if a bustier has a low neckline and back to wear underdresses.
  • Cups: This bra can have molded or unlined built-in cups. The cups connect to the band and center gore to push the breasts up.
  • Plastic boning: Most bustiers contain plastic boning to flatten the sides and avoid spillage.

Comparing Bustier Bras to Other Bras

Bra Purpose Wear
Bustier Enhance cleavageUnder formal attire or as lingerie
Corset Enhance curvesUnder formal attire
Normal Provide supportWork, errands, everyday activities

What Are the Benefits of Bustier Bras?

A bustier bra is a clothing piece you can wear as an undergarment or on its own, depending on your style. It hugs the torso tightly to give more structure to the bust. In effect, you get these benefits when wearing a bustier.

  • Enhance cleavage: Do you want to know a secret on how to make small breasts look bigger? The primary purpose of a bustier is to use its extended band to push the breasts up and together. It can emphasize and better define your bust while achieving an hourglass figure.
  • Alternative to waist trainers: A bustier can provide an almost similar slimming effect if waist trainers feel too snug on you. This is ideal if you want to avoid the compressive material of waist trainers.
  • Ensure torso support: Bustier bras vary in length, with some extending a few inches under the cups while others can go all the way down the hips. Regardless of the length, it can offer additional support, much like a longline bra.
  • Provide versatility in pairing clothes: A bustier bra gives the freedom of having fun styling it, especially with your favorite garments. It can add an instant feminine silhouette and delicateness.

How Can I Wear Bustier Bras?

What was once a longline undergarment evolved as a standalone bustier in today’s fashion trends. From Selena Quintanilla’s signature bustier to Katy Perry’s performance costumes, bustier bras remain functional yet aesthetic garments for different occasions.

A blue bustier bra with broad bands and black shorts are placed on a white mannequin

You can wear a bustier as shapewear for love handles, a top on its own, or a layering piece. Whichever you choose, it can further flatter your bust and make outfits look more appealing. These are some of the ways you can wear bustier bras.

  • As part of lingerie: Bustiers were traditionally designed for bedroom clothes, especially those with fanciful laces. Some can have transparent details, embroidery, and other ornaments that seem risque.
  • Complementary brassier: A bustier’s design allows you to wear this piece of lingerie outside the bedroom. Depending on your style or an event’s dress code, you can keep the midriff covered or bare, then pair it with dresses or long skirts. This makes the bra a versatile piece for dances or dinner parties.
  • Formal attire: Spice up your formal attire by wearing a bustier under a suit. It shows the contrast between a fitted undergarment and oversized blazers. This ensemble screams the ultimate girl boss vibes.
  • Bridal dress: Do you have a beach or boho-themed wedding? Some bustiers have lace overlays and ribbon accents, making them a great addition to a seductive yet sleek wedding dress. You can pair them with flared pants or a knee-length skirt.

Related Questions

What Is the Difference Between a Regular Bra and a Bustier?

A regular bra can have straps and a normal band length, whereas a bustier uses an extended band to compensate for the lack of straps. Bras also have more cup styles than bustiers.

Is a Bustier Bra the Same as a Corset?

Bustier bras are not the same as corsets because bustiers mainly push the breasts to create a slim look, whereas corsets hold the waist tighter to enhance curves. Corsets are more restrictive since most of them have lacing to tighten the fit.

Do You Wear a Regular Bra With a Bustier?

There’s no need to wear a regular bra with a bustier because bustiers already have a band to support the breasts. However, you can use nipple covers or boob tape instead if you need reinforcement.

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A bustier bra is a type of shapewear with an extended band and built-in cups to push the breasts while flattering the waist. Now it’s time to explore various bustiers and pair them with your outfits. You’ll wonder how it took you this long without having a bustier in your wardrobe.


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.