Full Figured Questions – Shelf Bras

Full Figured QuestionsThe best part about blogging is that I am constantly learning something new. Though I have talk to many women including my wife about different types of bras the conversation never went in this direction. This weeks reader question lead me to doing a bit of research which I am passing on.

Why do women wear shelf bras?

I had never heard of a shelf bra so I went looked up the textbook definition and this is what I found.  Shelf Bra: A bra that is donned below the breast to just under the nipple, which helps to uplift the breasts for added cleavage. Even though it is equipped with an under wire this particular type of bra is not meant for much support in my opinion.

For my wife who wears a 42G if she were to put on a bra like that then there would be one heck of a wardrobe malfunction. This type of bra seems like it would be best suited for women with smaller breasts that wanted some enhancement under their clothing. Though I did find a bra at Hips and Curves that fits up to size 44, it seems that this type of bra would be best suited for an intimate encounter and nothing more.Shelf Bra

Another fact that I discovered in my searching was that in some cases shelf bras are worn to bed. Not many women that I have encountered in my life talk about wearing a bra to bed and certainly would not consider wearing a specific type of bra just to go to sleep. It seems as if worn to bed spillage would still occur defeating the purpose of wearing it in the first place.

From the perspective of a man I see the shelf bra as pretty and something to entice me in the bedroom, but to answer the question I see no reason that women especially ladies with larger breasts would wear something like this.  It would seem to make more sense to wear a corset.

Those that are fans of this type of bra speak up and educate all of us on the virtues of this type of bra.  Also if there are any ladies that feel that wearing a bra to bed is the right thing to do I would love to hear from you as well.

  • http://www.RosaleeWomensizeApparel.com Rosalee Womensize Apparel

    In the past I have bought Tank Tops with a built in shelf bra, and I design and manufacture a pajama set set with a built in shelf bra because the pajama top is a Tank top with spaghetti straps. I have never thought a shelf bra would be good at support, it is just to hold “The Girls” in place.
    All full figure women who are ample in the bust area need to concentrate on a good support bra. Down thru history, a womean with well supported ample brest have been highly esteemed and regarded as a beautiful goddess. Appreciate what you have, there are skinny women paying thousands of dollars to get what God gave you.

  • http://www.fullfigureplus.com Glen L Johnson


    I agree with you that the shelf bra is mainly for show and not much for support especially for ladies that are blessed up top.

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  • Laura

    I think you’re running into two different kinds of bra both called “shelf bra”. There’s the utterly impractical type (illustrated in the photo on this post), which is lacy and nipple-exposing, and there’s the type Rosalee mentions, which is basically an elastic-banded extra piece of fabric inside a swimsuit or cami or tank top.

    It is the latter that some women sleep in, basically to keep bosoms from flopping about if you roll over at night.

    The former, as you point out, is really just a enticement to one’s partner to come to bed, not sleepwear.

  • Bridey

    I have occasionally worn a sport bra to bed, when I’ve had menstrual-related breast pain; it seems to help a bit.

    And ladies who are on the larger (or low-slung) side may wear a bra to bed simply because they don’t like the feeling that they’re flopping about :)

  • Ms Berry

    I don’t think what you’re describing is a shelf bra. All of my camisoles have built in shelf bras (they help for keeping the girls inline at night and as extra support during the day). A shelf (or built in) bra is basically an elasticized band of fabric that goes across the chest, and it covers the ENTIRE chest. It does not offer as much support as a full-on brassiere, but it is nice for kicking around the house.

    What you’re describing is a balconet or demi-bra.

  • Glen

    Ms Berry

    The bra in the picture is what I found to be a shelf bra which as you can see does not cover the entire chest. I was not reffering to the support system in a camisole but the actual bra itself.

  • dave

    I agree that shelf bras are impractical (the kind we see in the picture, not the kind inside swimsuits). They are meant to entice, and that they do. my wife is well-endowed and believe it or not, she wears shelf bras almost as much as full cup bras. when she wears a shelf bra, her breasts look great under most any kind of clothing. she is not shy about her nipples being seen so tank tops, t-shirts, and any other kind of tight fitting top is fine for her. for those women who are self conscious of this, you probably shouldn’t wear them outside of the house.

    i’m sold on shelf bras!

  • wendy

    I found this thread in my desperate search for some comfy (not sexy, not ugly, cute and comfy) pjs that would end my embarrassment each morning when I get out of bed and my boobs are hanging down to my knees in my pjs. My kids don’t really appreciate it and I find it embarrassing. But I don’t want to always have to throw a robe on to hide them. I’d like to be able to wake up and have my coffee without getting dressed and putting on my bra.

    So, what I want are comfy pjs that have a soft, cotton shelf bra (like in a cotton camisole – no wire!) inside some cotton pjs. Just a little evening and morning support so I can wear my pjs without feeling gross.


  • http://www.fullfigureplus.com Glen L Johnson


    Honestly I don’t know off hand if there are any pajamas of the type that you are describing. In the mean time I would suggest a good quality sports bra like the
    Grenier Full Support Cotton Sports Bra

    from Bigger Bras. When I find out more I will let you know.

  • suzanne

    I am a full figured women I have not worn a bra in over 15 years, I love the tank tops that have the built in bras in them. I can not stand to be restrained all day at work. I have a daughter she is fairly large figured also, she does not like wearing bras either.I don’t even own any bras, I just like being comfortable.

    • http://www.fullfigureplus.com Glen L Johnson


      I have been told that it is all about comfort. I could not imagine my wife with the size of her breasts going without a bra, but you are proof that it exists.

  • ms. megan

    I’m interested in how to fit a shelf bra. I have a smaller band and larger cups, 32F/34E. I feel like the girls would pop right out of a shelf bra unless it was specifically made for larger breasts. Some tips on how to actually wear a shelf bra would e beneficial…maybe Ill check out that website you mentioned above.

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