What is a Longline Bra (And Why Do You Need One)?

Side view catalog photo of a woman wearing a blue lace longline bra

Lingerie, like most lines of clothing under the bigger fashion umbrella, has a long history of past fads, current trends, and forward-looking forecasts. From girdles to padded push up bras, we've seen several pieces come, go, and then return again throughout the decades. The longline bra is one of those items! 

​What is a Longline Bra?

What is a longline bra, you might ask? In short, a longline bra is a bra that has fabric extending below the cup and band, covering the upper torso and ending around the belly button or waistline.

Based on traditional appeal of this bra, the longline style bra is known for both its torso slimming and smoothing abilities as well as its great support for full figured or curvy ladies.

To really dive into what a longline bra is, let’s start with its beginning in the lingerie fashion scene, and then take you to current day. We'll explain the difference between similar options as well as useful tips for wearing one, especially if it's your first time wearing a bra!  

Woman wearing a nude longline bra

Source: essentialapparel.com

However, modern day twists on this timeless classic have updated its appeal for a much larger breadth of body shapes and bust sizes. Everyone should have this classic staple in their bra collection, but before we get ahead of ourselves we should start with the basics to help clarify what this bra style is all about.

​A Quick History of the Longline Bra

​The longline bra has been around for a long time, but it really came onto the lingerie fashion scene around the 1940’s and 50’s, when hourglass figures and the bullet bra shape were all the rage.

Made popular by advertising’s war-era pin-up beauties and the Golden Age of Hollywood (hello Marilyn Monroe!) longline bras offered discreetly trimmed and slimmed waistline, while supporting and accentuating a full chest.

The iconic silhouette of the 1950’s woman was all about celebrating femininity and shedding the taboo of sex appeal.

However, by the 1960’s and 70’s, this ultra-feminine, ultra-structured look was replaced by a more natural look. With this shift in fads, the popularity of the longline bra fell to the wayside, but it was only a temporary hiatus.

The Return of the Longline Bra

The over-the-top styles of the 80’s and 90’s welcomed back the longline bra style with open arms! Teddy’s, sexy lingerie as ready-to-wear and full-figure chests were back in style, not to mention the incredibly iconic marriage of Madonna and the Jean Paul Gautier cone bra. Who could ever forget that fashion statement?!

The pendulum of fashion swinging back in favor of over-exaggerated curves and amped up sex appeal paved the way for the longline bra style making its comeback. In fact, the longline style bra is now hotter than ever as it’s the perfect marriage of vintage style and current lingerie trends!

Catalog photo of a woman wearing a nude longline bra

Source: curvy.com.au

Like we saw in the 80’s, current fashion trends have shifted back towards lingerie as statement fashion pieces. Similarly, this has pushed the envelope with lingerie designers to adapt, reimagining new variations on classic styles.  

It’s because of these two phenomena working together that has ushered in the “new” longline style bras.

Different Types of Modern Longline Bras

Today, the longline bra can be seen everywhere!  Current trends have evolved the longline style and you can see it in many different styles of bras. Let’s explore the wide variety and benefits of this timeless classic bra that you can wear now:

​Formal Wear/Bridal

​With its silhouette shaping and form-fitting appeal, longline style bras have always been a mainstay underneath gowns and bridal wear. Today’s modern twists on this vintage style has increased its appeal to the modern woman with a wide variety of sexy lace and sheer fabrics.

Benefits: Longline bras offers more coverage and better support than other style bras. A wide variety of fabrics and styles make this a great bra style that can work underneath a large array of formal and bridal dress options.

​Longline Sports Bras

If you have taken a recent scroll though fashion influential accounts on Instagram lately you might have noticed longline sports bras are everywhere!  What makes this style so popular in athleisure wear is its ability to act as both a top and bra.

Benefits: Longline sports bras do give your skin a little extra breathing room but they also work double time on slimming your waistline AND giving a little extra support to your girls! Double tap for #winning in both the style and function department here!

Related: Top Sports Bra for Big Chests

​Longline Plunge Bra

Longline bras and plunge bra seem to be opposites of each other, right? Not so fast! Modern adaptations of this vintage style coupled with current fashion trends (thank you Kim Kardashian) have given way to lower neckline fashion pairings.

Benefits: Greater versatility in abdomen slimming styles while still maintaining chest support make these a great option for extremely low cut tops or dresses.

What is a Bustier and a Corset?

With all of the above information about longline bras, you might be wondering about two very similar lingerie items, the bustier, and the corset. While they may look very similar to a longline bra, they are, in fact, quite different. Let’s discuss!

Bustiers are typically the undergarment most confused with a longline bra. They both showcase excellent boob support, structured cups, and fabric extending below the band for waist support.

However, bustiers typically extend longer to the hipline, have more structuring in the torso (boning), don’t have straps and are fashioned to be worn as ready-to-wear garments.

A corset’s main function, on the other hand, is to the train or “whittle” the waistline, just like how great push up bras for lifting work to bring the breasts together giving it a fuller look.

Therefore, corsets showcase much more rigid boning than their bustier cousins and can be worn either with or without a bra, depending on the particular style of corset. Repeat after me, a corset’s main function is for waist shaping NOT for boob support, like a longline bra.

Who Should Wear A Longline Bra?

With all this history and background on the longline bra, you might be wondering, “Who is best suited to wear a longline bra?” or, “Are there certain bust sizes/ body types that should wear this style bra?”

The very reason, my dear lady friends, that the longline bra has made such a lasting footmark in lingerie fashion is because it’s a universally flattering bra on all shapes and sizes! In fact, whether you are petite or plus size, have a small chest or a large chest, there are perfect longline bras for all of you!

Woman sitting on a chair in a sultry white longline bra and highwaist shorts

Source: playfulpromises.com

Here are some tips on looking for longline bras for certain shapes and sizes as well as stylistic attributes that will help alleviate bra concerns:

  • Small chested looking for size increase: If you want to add a bit more in your bustline, there's no more need for stuffing your bra! Look for longline bras that have built-in padding in the cups. The design of a longline bra, while seemingly for larger sizes also touts its abilities to accentuate a curvier bustline. Trust me, your options will be endless!
  • Small chested looking for minimal size increase: Great news! Modern longline style bras now come in styles with little to no padding in the cups.  Opt for minimal padding, for a more “au naturale” look! Tres chic!
  • Large Chested: Look for longline styles with more fabric or reinforced fabric in the band, which will help better support your “girls.” Many of these style will also feature more eyelets or back enclosures which also help with supporting breast weight. Additionally, styles that feature thicker straps will be much more comfortable on your shoulders.
  • plus
    Back Fat and Armpit Fat: Longline styles are great for these two bra concerns, as the thicker more reinforced band style iconic of longline style bras will help to smooth your torso and eliminate these two problem areas. Double check your cup size and band size is correct so you aren’t wearing the wrong size bra, which sometimes can be the underlying cause of this problem!
  • plus
    Plus Size: The longline style bra was custom made for you, girl! Just like how push up bras for full figured women focus on accentuating your bust, longline bras do the same (with the added bonus of giving you more support underneath). There are options both with and without padding, so you can completely customize your look.

Downsides To Wearing Longline Bras

While this universally flattering style bra is pretty awesome, there are a few downsides to look out for when shopping for this style bra.

Keep in mind though, these are not entirely negatives to the bra, as many differing styles and modern adjustments have been made to update where the traditional longline bra styles fell short. Yay technology and design updates!

If you have a shorter torso, you will be limited in the length of the extra fabric that wraps your mid-section. An easy fix for this is to look for styles with shorter fabric “extensions”, so they aren’t cutting into your waistline.

Side view catalog photo of a woman wearing a blue lace longline bra

Source: bra4her.com

Pulling and tugging all night while your middle is being pinched is no fun, so just be mindful of your selections and always try them on!

If you have wide set breasts, you will need to look carefully at the cup size and shape. Many of the traditional style longline bras will accentuate this separation, so best to opt for styles where the cups are tilted slightly inwards. A little padding in the cup will also help to push your breast towards your centerline!  

Why Do You Need a Longline Bra?

We have covered a wide breadth of knowledge of the longline bra; both its history as well as its modern day translations into mainstream lingerie options. Styles available now for the longline bra are really varied, so there is something for everyone!

However, maybe you aren’t yet convinced this is a bra style that you need in your collection. So to recap, let’s recount the myriad reasons as to why this should be a mainstay in your bra collection.

  • 1
    ​Great for women with larger chest sizes as they offer increased band and back support.
  • 2
    ​Great for ladies that stand for long periods of time, offering additional back support with an extension of band fabric.
  • 3
    ​Great for those looking for bra options that double as abdomen/torso shaping (bye, bye back fat and armpit fat!)
  • 4
    ​Perfect go-to options for formal or bridal wear.
  • 5
    Longline sports bras double as both a top and a bra - what’s not to love about that!
  • 6
    Longline plunge bras are great for low-cut tops/dresses with added smoothing of your silhouette.
  • 7
    Longline bras offer a vintage twist on modern day lingerie giving you a wider style selection outside of your traditional everyday bras.
  • 8
    Longline style bras are just so darn comfortable!

​Conclusion

With all these above-mentioned benefits, what’s not to love about the modern longline style bra? After covering all the rich history of this standout bra, demystify similar styles and showcasing the timeless classic appeal of the longline bra, it is no wonder most all women are shopping this style bra like crazy right now.   

So, what are you waiting for?  Time to get shopping!

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