A bustier is a piece of women's clothing which can be worn as an undergarment or an over garment, depending on style and personal taste. It is usually classified as lingerie and is also associated with sex appeal. Many lingerie stores sell bustiers, which should be custom fitted for the best look, just like a bra. When trying one on, a woman should pay close attention to how the garment feels on the body, strained seams, and the fit in the chest area. It may require some adjustment to fit properly, or it may be the wrong size. The wearer should take the time to fit a bustier properly for comfort.
The design of a bustier resembles a corset, although it tends to be less restrictive. The garment extends from the bosom to the waistline, and is lightly boned. It serves two primary functions. The first function offers support to the breasts, both making the wearer more comfortable and creating cleavage. A bustier also shapes the waistline slightly.
The fuller version of this undergarment is known as a basque. A basque extends down to the hips, smoothing the body from bosom to hips. This garment is also not as restrictive as a true corset, but it is more limiting than a bustier. However, wearing a basque ensures that the entire waistline is smoothed, which some women prefer.
When worn as an undergarment, a bustier is generally intended to shape and smooth the body. Numerous garments can be worn over it, although care should be taken to ensure that the seams and patterns of the bustier do not show through, unless this is a deliberately desired effect. As an undergarment, it may also be worn with a slip, to smooth the seams and ease the transition to the lower body.
A bustier can also be used as outerwear. In public, formal bustiers may be worn over dresses or long skirts. Depending on personal taste, the midriff may be left bared or covered. A formal garment tends to be thick, so that flesh is not seen underneath, and it can potentially be worn at events such as gala openings, dances, and dinner parties.
Bustiers designed for the bedroom tend to be much more lacy and fanciful. The focus is on form, rather than function, and it may integrate transparent elements, embroidery, decorative ribbons, and other ornaments that would seem out of place on other types of bustier. Those worn as lingerie can run the gamut from very risque to tasteful, and can be worn with an assortment of other garments as well.