My French Lingerie: 7 bra styles for a décolleté de rêve – the neckline of your dreams

The best thing about French lingerie is that you do not need to speak French to wear it. However, you will need to know some lingerie vocabulary if you are planning a trip to Paris, and want to indulge and delight in the sensory pleasures offered in the lingerie capital of the world.

Knowing a bit of vocabulary will also help avoid any awkward moments. These might include standing half-dressed in a change room blabbering nonsense in front of an increasingly impatient saleswoman as she asks you what your French bra size is, or being asked if you want a bra avec ou sans dentelle – with or without lace.

Lingerie shopping in the French capital

The following is an introduction to understanding different bra shapes available for a décolleté de rêve. You can begin building a lingerie wardrobe guaranteed to give you the ooh là là tingle that only French lingerie can provide.

Today let’s look at the many shapes of the soutien-gorge — otherwise known as a bra:

Kate Kemp-Griffin - 16.06.2013 -


Fleurs de pommier balconnet bra from Aubade


1. Balconnet: Meaning shelf, or balcony, this covers only part of the breast to lift and enhance, giving a straight bustline. Straps are attached to the side of the cups. This bra is well suited to smaller busts.

Kate Kemp-Griffin - 16/06/2013 -


Marilyn corbeille bra from Simone Pérèle


2. Corbeille: A demi– or half-cup size that is ideal for larger breasts. Covering half to three-quarters of the breast, the cup is shaped to give a plump, upward-rounded curve while providing the necessary support. This bra enhances cleavage, giving a fuller bustline.

KAte Kemp-Griffin - 16.06.2013 -


Hypnodream moulded dos-nu bra from Aubade

3. Dos-nu: This translates literally as ‘nude back,’ and refers to bras that are constructed for backless evening dresses and other such styles. Cross the detachable straps for hidden support.

Kate Kemp-Griffin - 16.06.2013 -


Olympe bra à armatures from Simone Pérèle 


4. Emboîtant / à Armatures: Emboîter means ‘to fit together’, which explains the nature of this classic shape with deep cups that fit the breasts to provide full coverage and support. Armature is underwire, which is almost always present in full-cup bras. This type is suitable for medium to very generous breasts.

KateKemp-Griffin - 16.06.2013 -


Caressence moulé bra from Simone Pérèle

5. Moulé: This means ‘molded’; the technique of placing fabric on a mold and heating under high pressure to create a seamless, pre-formed cup. Molded-cup bras are very comfortable and give breasts a natural shape that is discreet under tight clothing. Perfect for everyday lingerie!

Kate Kemp-Griffin - 16.06.2013 -


Marilyn push-up bra from Simone Pérèle

6. Push-up: This one is everywhere! Angled cups with padding push the breasts together and lift them to the sky, enhancing cleavage and creating an illusion of volume. Ideal for low necklines.

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Fleurs d’Afrique plunge bra from Aubade 

7. Plunge: For the deepest of necklines, these bras have a lower center gore (the fabric between the cups). They increase cleavage while maintaining support. Go ahead and take the plunge!

Whether you are in Paris or visiting your local boutique, this vocabulary will intensify the pleasure of discovering the styles that shape and flatter you.

Which form gives YOU a décolleté de rêve?

Image Credits:
1. From Blush Lingerie TV commercial,
2, 4 & 8. Courtesy Aubade
3, 5, 6 & 7. Courtesy Simone Pérèle 

About the Contributor

Kathryn Kemp-Griffin

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  1. Alex Mealey Jun 25, 2013 at 6:46 PM - Reply

    Hi Kathryn! The push up is definitely the bra I need for a décolleté de rêve!

  2. Elisabeth Donato Jun 26, 2013 at 7:23 AM - Reply

    I hope that you know the French expression “Y’a du monde au balcon” :o)
    Great piece, very enjoyable, on what I believe to be an important topic. One cannot be a great woman without being able to pick a good bra (and I still feel that I am borderline failing on that front…).

  3. Jennifer Down Jul 10, 2013 at 4:54 PM - Reply

    My drawer’s full of balconnets! What do French women think of visible bra straps, Kathryn? Is it a complete tabou?

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