What is a Camisole Bra?

Kelly Ferguson

The term camisole bra most commonly refers to a full-length camisole with a built-in bra. Sometimes, however, it refers to a bra, normal or slightly longer than normal in length, that has fabric covering the cleavage to mimic the look of a camisole. There are several variations on the camisole bra, ranging from lacy camisoles to body shaping camisoles to plain cotton camisoles for everyday wear, and everything in between. Depending on the style and the fabric used, a camisole bra can be worn as an undergarment, as a complement to an open shirt or a shirt with a deep neck, or by itself as a stand-alone top on hot days.

A woman wearing a camisole with a shelf bra.
A woman wearing a camisole with a shelf bra.

The type of bra that is built into a camisole is usually called a shelf bra. Shelf bras lend some support to the garment, eliminating the need to wear a regular bra, reducing visible bra lines and ensuring that no extra bra straps are visible. A camisole bra can either be made with molded cups or with a simple band of elastic that functions similarly to a sports bra. Some camisole bras offer underwire support, while others rely on elastic or firm cups. Sometimes, camisole bras are sized based on shirt size rather than cup size, but usually the reverse is true.

Camisole bras have features similar to those of sports bras, such as molded cups and elastic support.
Camisole bras have features similar to those of sports bras, such as molded cups and elastic support.

Many full-length camisole bras are made for everyday wear, commonly as part of a layered look, such as under a sheer shirt or open sweater. A long or short camisole bra is also a popular choice for women attempting to conceal excess cleavage while wearing a shirt with a low neckline. Lacy or printed camisole bras can be used to spice up an outfit for a dressier occasion. Some brands offer especially supportive camisole bras designed for fitness and sports. Some brands offer seamless camisole bras to eliminate visible bra lines, often while also providing body shaping benefits.

A body shaping camisole bra uses snugly fitting, supportive fabric in the body of the garment as well as the bra to reduce or eliminate unsightly bulges and rolls on the abdomen and back. For this reason, these are commonly seen items in plus-size shops and websites. Additionally, some women with larger breasts may prefer the firm fabric offered with the body shaping camisole bras, because they lend extra support in the breast area as well as the rest of the torso.

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