Swimsuits come in all different styles with varying types of support. We all know what an underwire is, but what is a shelf bra in a swimsuit? Check out our description below.

Shelf Bra

What is a shelf bra in a swimsuit? A shelf bra is a built-in bra that is woven seamlessly into the fabric of the swimsuit. It features an elastic band that wraps around the ribcage and provides structural support to the bustline. This built-in bra presents a nice amount of coverage for busty women without making them feel bulky and creates a smooth silhouette to keep curvy ladies feeling confident. Most shelf bras don't come with cups. Instead, the stretchy fabric and elastic mold to the shape of your upper body to keep things in place.


Shelf bras in swimsuits are often more comfortable than other support systems like underwire because they don't use the same rigid metal that can push up against the ribs and cause discomfort. In suits made with comfortable, breathable fabric, the shelf bra moves with the curves of your body as you walk. This is much less constricting than a suit with underwire, as you can still feel secure without having to feel totally strapped in and compressed. The fact that they are hidden is also nice, considering underwire styles can often be outwardly visible to those around you.

Because shelf bras do such a good job at sculpting the body and establishing smooth lines, they really create a classic, elegant look that's timeless. They definitely give a softer fit and shape. Since they're featured in swimwear that usually involves more fabric, they're great if you're interested in a more modest take on the beach or the pool. The availability of more material with these suits also means that there's more space to display your personality through fun patterns and designs.

Since a major component to the shelf bra is the elastic band, you'll want to make sure that you take proper care of your swimsuit to avoid stretching it out. To make your suit last as long as possible, get in the habit of washing it by hand immediately after use and hanging to dry.

Other Options

Still unsure if a swimsuit with underwire or one with a shelf bra is best for you? Other options to consider are molded cups and fully lined suits. Molded cups are seamless and give you that desired natural and rounded shape. They can be ideal if you want some coverage, but not a huge amount of compression and lift. Fully lined suits provide all the coverage you need, along with comfort all day long.