Top Differences between Padded and Unpadded Bras

Top Differences between Padded and Unpadded Bras

When shopping for bras, you have three main options: unpadded (or unlined) bras, lightly padded bras, and fully padded bras. Each type of bra offers different benefits and can play different roles in your top drawer. For example, you might want to wear a fully padded bra with a low-cut dress on a night out, a lightly padded bra while running errands, and an unpadded bra around the house.

Let’s look at the differences between padded and unpadded bras, and discover how each one might benefit you.

Padded vs. Unpadded Bras

Let’s take a look at the key differences between padded and unpadded bras:

Support Shape Volume Nipple Showing
Padded Bras Extra support Adds shape Adds volume Keeps nipples hidden
Unpadded Bras Flexible support Enhances natural breast shape Enhances natural breast size Nipple coverage depends on fabric


In general, padded bras provide more support and are designed to add shape and volume to breasts. Unpadded bras, on the other hand, are typically more flexible and work to enhance your natural shape and size. It is important to remember that every padded and unpadded bra will support you differently based on the design and fabrication, so we recommend trying on a variety to find your perfect style. 

What is a padded bra?

Padded bras - otherwise known as lined bras - come in two categories: traditionally lined (traditionally padded) bras and lightly lined (lightly padded) bras.

Traditionally padded bras feature extra padding in the cups to keep nipples hidden and give more shape and volume. Those with smaller breasts that want to add more volume will favor this type of bra. Padded bras generally either have sewn-in padding or removable padding. While both styles can be comfortable and supportive, bras with removable padding can be more versatile as they allow you to customize your cleavage.

Lightly padded bras, on the other hand, feature some level of padding to prevent nipples from showing through, but have less bulk and therefore add less volume. This type of bra is perfect for everyday wear as it is ultra comfortable while keeping you smooth under your clothes. In fact, our most popular bra, the 24/7® Classic T-Shirt Bra is a lightly lined style that millions of women love.

What is the difference between a padded bra and a push-up bra

A push-up bra is a specific type of padded bra that focuses mainly on adding volume and cleavage. While an everyday padded bra also helps to enhance shape and volume, a push-up bra will provide the most volume of any bra. Typically, a push-up bra will:
  • Add generous volume, adding one to two cup sizes
  • Push your breasts towards the center and upwards, further enhancing cleavage
  • Focus on making your breasts appear fuller and rounder

If you’re looking to enhance your cleavage under a striking dress with a plunging neckline, a push-up bra is your best friend. 

What is an unpadded bra?

An unpadded bra, sometimes called an unlined bra, has no padding in the cups. Many women enjoy wearing this type of bra because it enhances their natural breast shape and size, rather than adding any additional shape or volume.

Because unlined bras are free of padding and foam, they tend to be more breathable and moisture-wicking than their padded counterparts. A well-designed unpadded bra made of a soft fabric - like our 24/7® Second Skin Unlined Bra - will truly feel as comfortable as a second skin.

Depending on the fabric, unlined bras can have a sheer or opaque finish and will provide more or less nipple coverage. If the bra is made of a sheer or see-through fabric such as lace or mesh, you will likely see your nipples through the cups. On the other hand, if it’s made of an opaque, thicker fabric, it will provide more nipple coverage.

Remember - while you might see your nipples through the bra itself, that doesn’t mean your nipples will necessarily show through your clothes. Try a couple of unpadded bra styles to see which one works for you!  

Is it okay to wear a non-padded bra every day?

There is no one perfect everyday bra for everyone. If you find that unpadded bras make you look and feel the best, then it’s the perfect everyday bra for you! If you enjoy wearing something with more coverage on the daily, then a padded bra would be the best everyday bra for you. It really depends on your preferences.  

Is it better to have padded or unpadded bras?

Neither type of bra is better than the other. In fact, we believe that both padded and non-padded bras have a place in your top drawer. Looking to add volume and enhance your cleavage? Try a fully padded bra. Want smoothing coverage under a t-shirt? A lightly padded bra is the way to go. Craving a light, second-skin feel? Try an unpadded bra.

Whether you’re looking for a padded, lightly padded, or unpadded bra - we offer all these styles in a variety of silhouettes to best suit your needs. Still need some help finding the perfect bra for you? Take our online Fitting Room quiz to find your best size and silhouette. Want some customized one-on-one help? Chat with our fit stylists by clicking the “chat with us” button at any time to find a bra that you’ll fall in love with.