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Are you wearing the right bra? 9 styles you need to know now

Ask any woman who has gotten her bra professionally sized and she'll tell you: The right fit can make all the difference.

But the right cup and bust aren't the only important factors when choosing a bra, according to Elisabeth Dale, author of the book "The Bra Zone" and founder of The Breast Life blog. “It’s like picking out shoes for an outfit — sometimes you want flip-flops or ballet slippers or high heels,” she says. Having a variety of bra styles means you can dress your chest for the occasion. Here’s how.

Pro tip: Bras are made of delicate fabrics and elastics and should always be laundered by hand or placed in a lingerie bag and washed on the gentle cycle in cool water, says Dale. Be sure to hang them to dry. “Never, ever put your bras in the dryer — that will be shorten their lifespan,” she emphasizes.

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1. T-shirt / Seamless / Contour bra

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These cups always hold their shape, even when they aren't on the body.

This style goes by all three names, which essentially performs the function of “disappearing” underneath knitted or clingy clothing so that straps and bumps don’t stick up through fabric. The cups always hold their shape, even when breasts aren’t in them, and are made on a mold of thicker materials that provide great nipple coverage — a common concern for many women. (Take note: Newer “spacer bras” that also fall under this style are made of lighter, more breathable fabric that provide less nipple coverage.) You can get this type of bra in a variety of options, including full coverage, plunge and strapless, explains Dale.

RELATED: 8 things no one ever told you about bra shopping

2. Underwire bra

Angeliki Jackson / TODAY
If you find underwire bras uncomfortable, look for a style that is double or triple wrapped inside the casings for a better feel.

Bras made with underwire that surround the base of breasts provide structure by keeping the breasts anchored to the chest. While some women love the supportive feel, others find it uncomfortable. If you fall in the former category, look for underwire that is double or triple wrapped inside casings for more comfort. You can find underwire bras in plunge, demi and full-coverage styles, as well as in nursing and post-mastectomy bras. “If you hate underwire bras, the good news is that there are plenty of non-wired bras on the market now — you just have to shop around to find what works best for your breasts,” says Dale.

3. Push-up bra

Angeliki Jackson / TODAY
This style is also a good solution for those with breast asymmetry where one breast is bigger than the other (totally normal!) or for those who’ve had lumpectomies

Nothing beats a push-up bra if you want to lift the twins higher. “The most versatile style is one where the ‘cutlets’ can be removed so you can bump up your cleavage when you want, but not have your boobs be the center of attention when you don’t,” says Dale. This style is also a good solution for those with breast asymmetry — where one breast is bigger than the other (totally normal!) — or for those who’ve had lumpectomies, since you can wear padding in only one cup. Despite their reputation, push-up bras are not so much about adding volume (though they do some of that, too) as they are about lifting tissue to a higher elevation, adds Dale.

4. Balconette and demi bras (they are different!)

Angeliki Jackson / TODAY
The demi bra goes even lower than the balconette, with a single vertical seam up each cup.

“There’s a great deal of confusion between the balconette and demi bra styles, since many manufacturers call a demi a balconette and vice-versa,” says Dale. They’re actually not the same type of bra. The balconette is a sexier version of a full-coverage bra, with the cup cut a bit smaller to show more of the top half of the breast.

The demi bra goes even lower than the balconette, with a single vertical seam up each cup and with the tops of the cups cut straight across. The demi style works well under lower, scoop neck outfits. It’s also a good choice for those with shallower breast tissue as it lifts each breast up without creating cleavage or creasing, explains Dale.

5. Bralette

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They're comfortable enough to wear to sleep or on weekends, but fashionable enough to be worn as sexy lingerie.

“These are the hottest new trend!” says Dale of the bras that are made as a one-piece without clasps and an unstructured style that can slip on over your head. Many bralettes are made of supportive stretch lace material with adjustable straps and bands and come in longline styles that extend further down the torso. They're comfortable enough to wear to sleep or on weekends, but fashionable enough to be worn as sexy lingerie or a layering insert inside of a professional jacket. And for those with fuller busts, there are even some bralette styles made with underwire, says Dale.

6. Strapless and convertabile bras

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If you're looking for versatility, go for a convertible. If you only need a strapless, go for a specific style.

Strapless styles are usually chosen to accommodate skin-baring outfits and come in regular or longline versions, which may be called bustiers. However, there is a difference between convertible and strapless styles. Convertibles allow you to change up straps to crisscross or wear in other ways. You can choose to ditch the straps altogether, but it’s not constructed the same way as a true strapless bra. In other words: If you're looking for versatility, go for a convertible. If you only need a strapless, go for a specific style.

Since all the support of a strapless comes from around band, you may want to go down a band size and up a cup size, advises Dale. “Strapless bras are tricky to fit because of differing cup construction — from plunge to full coverage — so if you need one for a particular outfit, bring it along so you can see how it looks over the bra,” Dale suggests.

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7. Sports bra (they're not all created equally)

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There are basically two types of sports bras: compression and encapsulation.

When you want to get the most out of your workout, pick up a sports bra. “Like running or hiking shoes, you should pick one that is right for your level of activity,” explains Dale. Most sports bras have a guide that tells you if it’s for low, medium or high impact — the difference between say yoga and aerobic activity.

There are basically two types of sports bras: compression and encapsulation. The first is one that gives you the “uni-boob” look to hold your breasts down by compressing them. The latter is more like a regular bra, where each breast has its own cup. For moderate-to-high impact activity (like running), always wear a bra that does double-duty with both compression and encapsulation qualities, advises Dale.

8. Minimizer bra

Angeliki Jackson / TODAY
A minimizer bra style spreads breast tissue across the chest rather than bringing it all to the front.

This concept is a bit old school, since many professional bra fitters today believe that a seamed, full-coverage bra does the best job of minimizing the appearance of larger breasts. A minimizer bra style spreads breast tissue across the chest rather than bringing it all to the front with centered projection. Many minimizer bras have other features, like wider wings to reduce the appearance of back rolls, says Dale.

9. Adhesive backless bra / cut outs

Angeliki Jackson / TODAY
Some adhesive bras may be uncomfortable to wear during warmer summer months or in humid climates.

You’ve probably seen these in clothing catalogs or at the checkout of lingerie shops. This option is best suited for smaller or lighter-weight breasts, says Dale. They’re a good choice if you want some lift or want to bring the breasts together (usually in a backless outfit). Keep in mind that some adhesive bras may be uncomfortable to wear during warmer summer months or in tropical climates, she adds.

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