Shelf bras are the case when two seemingly opposite things are described using the same words. The first type is built-in shelf bras. They are super comfortable, practical, and modest. The second type is platform shelf bras. These, on the contrary, are a sexy lingerie staple. In this article let's enjoy the best of both worlds and look through some actual products as well.

Built-in shelf bras

A built-in shelf bra is an absolute must-have for any girl's wardrobe. It's convenient, it's easy, and goes well with just about anything.

The purpose of built-in shelf bras

Ever wondered how privileged guys are? Throw on some pants and a shirt and they're good to go… For girls, it's not that easy. Or is it? Built-in shelf bras are padded bra cups that are built within a top. Shelf bras can be built within cami tops, tank tops, t-shirts, and even long-sleeve tops. There's no underwire or metal clasps, as the cups are held together with elastic bands. One, simple piece and you're good to go without worrying too much about nipples showing or breasts sagging.

This is what the perfect shelf bra looks like. Soft, stretchy and in a variety of beautiful colors. Thousands of women agree it's the best they've tried so far!

Pros of built-in shelf bras

  • It's super convenient. No need to pair the bra with the top because the top already contains one.
  • It saves time. If you're the kind of girl who loves snoozing the alarm that extra time, a top with a built-in shelf bra is a perfect choice.
  • No bra straps. This is especially important for cami tops. Since cami straps are so thin, it's wise to go strapless. If you don't own a strapless or adhesive bra, a cami top with a built-in shelf bra is a great option. (Although we can swear: in the long run, a good strapless bra is an investment worth making).
  • It's comfy. As mentioned above, the garment contains no metal or plastic details. So if you don't like to be restricted by such “constructions”, a built-in shelf bra is just for you!
  • Variety of styles and colors. During our research, we've stumbled upon lots and lots of quality tops with built-in shelf bras. Whether you enjoy minimalistic designs and gray-scale tones or celebrate life through bright clothing - there's surely a perfect built-in shelf bra match for you.

Cons of built-in shelf bras

  • Support. Yes, the built-in shelf bra can provide some support. And for girls with smaller boobs, the support may be enough for even some sports activities. But if your breasts are on the larger side, the built-in shelf bra may lack the support that's so vital to you. For instance, if you're a busy mom running after a toddler, a top with a built-in shelf bra might not be the best choice. In this case, opt for a breathable and comfy sports bra that doesn't make the dreaded uni-boob happen.
  • Too much padding. Padding is a matter of taste. The cups of built-in shelf bras are usually rather thick. That being said, the market also offers options where the “shelf bra” is simply a second layer of a cotton sports bra. For lazy days at home, this is a perfect option!
  • Not too sexy. A built-in bra will never replace the magic of lingerie. A built-in shelf bra is not a piece that will make you feel empowered and sexy throughout the day.
  • Waste. We at Bratag advise investing in durable brasseries. The thing with built-in shelf bras  once the top fabric gets worn out, you basically throw out two pieces: the top and the bra. Whereas, if the bra and the top were separate, you could still use the bra for years to come.

Combining the built-in shelf bra with other clothing

Since the built-in shelf bras come in just about any style, it's super easy to incorporate them in your wardrobe. On colder days use the top as an extra layer for retaining body warmth. These tops are usually made of cotton or viscose — materials that ensure great breathability. Combine the top with a slouchy cardigan for autumn vibes or wear under a blazer to look casual yet feel free to move. For a classic look, combine a white top with a pair of jeans.

Swimwear with built-in shelf bras

Many one-piece swimsuits actually come with a built-in shelf bra. It's the perfect option for coverage and support. The breasts look firm and round, and there's a little to no chance of nipples showing. It's also a great choice if your breasts are sensitive — for instance, if you're breastfeeding or if you have hormonal issues.

The sexy shelf bras

Now that you've heard all about the every-day type of shelf bras, let's move to something a bit more spicy and exciting. The platform shelf bras (also called quarter-cup bras) offer less coverage but more sex-appeal.

The purpose of platform shelf bras

Platform bras are made to empower and tempt. Made with quality non-stretch materials (often - cotton) and lace, the cups round the breasts and lift them up slightly. Most support is concentrated in the band and on the straps which are a bit wider than usual. As the cups provide little to no coverage, when going out, it's wise to combine this kind of shelf bra with nipple stickers.

Pros of platform shelf bras

  • Great with low-cut dresses and tops. As the bras cover only a quarter of the cup, there's no chance of cup edges showing in the cleavage.
  • Veeery sexy. Did we emphasize this enough? It's the perfect bra for dating and intimacy. In some styles, nipples remain uncovered, while others provide solutions for more modesty.
  • Breathable. As the platform shelf bras are often made of non-stretch cotton and quality lace, the garments end up light and breathable.

Cons of platform shelf bras

  • Not enough support. If your boobs are not the firmest and perkiest or you simply have very large breasts, this might not be the bra for you. To still look and feel sexy, opt for unlined lace bras of your size. To spice up your game, choose the “open nipple” style.
  • Not for everyday use. It may work for summery days, dreamy dresses, and blouses. But for going to work, running errands, or catching up with family, one might want more coverage and support.

Styles similar to a platform shelf bra

If you like the concept of platform shelf bras but you're not that brave yet, you can get there slowly, starting with something more modest.

  • Demi-cup bra. In terms of design, it's almost identical to the platform shelf bra, only with more coverage. As the name suggests, the cup covers half of the breast - including the nipple. It's still a great option for low-cut tops and dresses.
  • Balconette bra. Like the platform shelf bra, a balconette bra has wider straps. The shape is also similar to a platform shelf bra. Balconettes often come with padding - mostly light. It pushes the breasts up and out.

This seems to be the  ideal balconette bra! Just read through the reviews!People are swearing by the fit and claiming the bra to be the sexiest they've ever owned. What's the best part about it? The sizing chart goes all the way up to 48H. Because every girl deserves to feel cute and desirable.

  • Unlined bras. Like a platform shelf bra, unlined bras are lightweight and breathable, yet more supportive and versatile.

The best built-in shelf bras

Let's look at tops with built-in shelf bras that could become a reliable everyday buddy of yours.

Built-in shelf bra for sports

This yoga top surprises with high-quality fabric. It's stretchy yet snug and flattering. It's perfect for doing slow sports like yoga or housework and gardening. Some customers wished the top was a bit longer, so we find this garment perfect for petite women.

For more coverage - tank tops with built-in padded cups

This the option you'd want to go for in order to feel secure and confident. Modal is a great choice of material, as it's light, soft, and breathable. That being said, we advise washing the garment in cold temperatures to prevent fading. Note that the top is suitable for breasts smaller than C cup!

Swimwear with a built-in bra

Now this one's a gem. Not only it has soft molded cups that make breasts look flawless - it's also tummy friendly. This swimsuit is one that looks gorgeous on all body types. Scroll the reviews to see beautiful pictures of women of all sizes and shapes  enjoying this wonderful piece.

The best platform shelf bras

It's the cherry on top! Let's explore the best platform shelf bras web has to offer.

The textbook platform shelf bra

This sexy beast is a perfect visualisation for all we wrote about the platform shelf bras. Super low cut, breathable, close to zero coverage. After all, platform bras are not meant to cover, they're meant to reveal and tease! If you crave this particular piece, size up. The only minus - from what we can tell, the straps could have been a bit wider.

The hot mesh platform shelf bra

This one's a sweetie. More suitable for everyday use, as the demi cup offers better support and the nipple stays safe and sound under the cup fabric. While technically it's not your typical platform shelf bra, we couldn't leave this one out. It looks both comfy and alluring.

But that's not it!

For further adventures, get yourself a glass of wine and explore the world of brave lingerie. We suggest the Lovehoney's Peekabo section and Hips & Curve's Extra Racy for bigger girls.  

At the end of the day

It doesn't matter which shelf bra you came here for - the built-in or platform one - we hope you found what you were searching for. Just think about it. Both kinds of shelf bras are very different from another, yet both are on a very important mission. Your confidence and wellness. Whether you want a no-brainer bra and top combo or a bra that elevates your self-esteem to a new level of “sexy”, at the end of the day you're the queen! And if our opinion matters - a queen should have both kinds of shelf bras on her underwear shelf...