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 like our 24/7® Classic Uplift Plunge Bra 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.

24/7® Classic T-Shirt Bra




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! 


24/7® Classic Second Skin Unlined



Top Differences Between Padded vs Unpadded Bras

Let’s dig deeper into the features of padded and unpadded bras. Both are great, but depending on your style, mood, and what you’re dressing for, choosing one over the other might be a total hit or a miss. Here’s what you need to know about these bra types.


Comfort & Breathability

Padded bras are very supportive and comfortable, as long as you pick the right size and aim for a perfect fit. These bras are designed to make your ladies as comfy as possible while enhancing your curves under any outfit. Of course, the bra padding adds to the volume and weight of the bra, which is why some women feel that padded bras are heavier and more restricting compared to unpadded ones.

Unlined bras, on the other hand, offer amazing breathability thanks to their lightweight and airy design. They are less about shaping and more about showcasing your natural curves while keeping you feeling free and unrestricted


Support & Lift

Bra padding not only supports your breasts but also creates a gorgeous round shape that looks beautiful no matter what you wear. That’s why if you’re looking for more support and sculpting, a padded bra would be your best option. T-Shirt, push up, balconette, and plunge bras can do wonders for your shape, lifting and bringing your breasts closer together.

Unpadded bras emphasize the natural curves of your breasts, so if you don’t need a dramatic cleavage, opt for an unlined bra and experience just how light and comfortable a bra could be. Unpadded bras are also extremely supportive, depending on the style you wear and your breast size. In fact, both unlined and lined bras offer the same level of support - it all comes down to the bra design you choose.


Versatility in Wardrobe

You can’t have too many bra styles in your wardrobe as different designs are perfect for different occasions. Padded bras are extremely versatile and can be paired with many styles. Sleek balconette bras look amazing with dresses and fitted tops, emphasizing the beauty of your silhouette. Push up and plunge bras will add more oomph to your evening look or a special date outfit, while a simple T-shirt bra is great for wearing all day every day due to its comfort and gorgeous style.

Having a few unpadded bras in your drawer is a must for those days when you want to feel light and emphasize your natural shape. Many women swear by unlined bra designs as they are so comfortable you might not want to take them off. There is also a lot of variety in unpadded bras - they come in both wired and wireless styles. Learn more about the differences between wireless vs underwire bras to choose the best option for you.


Special Occasions vs Every Day Wear

If you’re looking for a bra to sculpt and accentuate your gorgeous curves, a padded bra might be your best choice. Pair it with a body-hugging dress or opt for a strapless design to show off your beautiful neckline. Padded bras look great under any outfit, shaping and supporting your breasts beautifully.

For everyday wear, you might want to try wearing an unlined bra that will feel more light and airy. A wireless design will hug and gently lift your breasts, saving your sensitive skin from any discomfort.



Here are a few frequently asked questions about padded and unpadded bras.


What’s the Primary Difference Between Padded and Unpadded Bras?

Unpadded bras are free of padding and foam and usually have a layer of soft fabric, mesh, or lace to hug and support your breasts. They can be wired or wireless, so it really depends on your style and preference. Padded bras have a layer of foam that molds to your breast shape, creating a more solid silhouette with a rounder bust. This type of bra lifts and pushes your breasts together, making them look firm and perky. 


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.


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.


Do Unpadded Bras Provide Enough Support?

Natural shape bras offer as much support as padded ones, depending on the design you choose. Wired bras provide slightly more support than wireless ones, but you can also opt for wireless unlined designs with wide bands that are great for bigger cup sizes.


Can You Find Bras That Are Both Padded and Comfortable?

When it comes to comfortable bras, fit is everything. Picking the right size may be tricky at first, but once you determine all your measurements, finding the perfect fit won’t be a problem. For the best experience, look for lightly lined bras, like ThirdLove’s Form 360 Fit™ Wireless Bra which features thin memory foam cups, and Precise Sizing™ technique for the ultimate fit. It will accentuate your curves while giving your breasts the support they need without poking or uniboob.

Women with fuller cups would love ThirdLove’s 24/7® Perfect Coverage Bra - it is the holy grail of everyday bras for bigger breast sizes. This lightly lined bra is all about comfort, style, and shaping your ladies to look their best. If you’re looking to add some oomph to your look, opt for a 24/7® Classic Uplift Plunge Bra. With removable padding and adjustable straps, this design allows you to customize your cleavage, revealing as much as you want, depending on your mood.


Find Your Perfect Fit at ThirdLove

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.