Lingerie Terminology

Lingerie is an all encompassing term that describes a multitude of different styles and shapes that make up the world of unmentionables. Below you will find a number of terms and definitions that will help you better understand the subtitles of lingerie.

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Babydolls are similar to slips however, these tend to be shorter so that they just cover your bottom (if that) and tend to flare out a little more. Generally they have an empire waist line but they can vary greatly at times.

A backseam is the seam that runs along the back of the leg on your hosiery.

Balcony bra
This is also known as a demi-cup bra. Instead of a full cup a balcony bra is usually a half cup or three quarters so you see more breast. The way these bras tend to be designed means you get nice rounded cleavage as they generally push the breasts up from the lower section of the bra.

A basque is a form fitting piece of lingerie which extends down over your hips and usually ends in suspenders. These come in many variations however, I have found the most common to be the illustration below.

Big brief
As far as I can tell, this seems to be another term for high waist brief.

These are sometimes referred to as teddies. A bodysuit/teddy is just like a leotard. These can be great pieces to wear as fitted tops beneath a skirt.

Boyleg undies are like little booty shorts. They are usually so short they almost end up turning into regular undies but the little extra material on the legs usually gives a slightly more short-like look. 

Similar to triangle bras, bralettes usually take a triangle shape over the breast and are not padded. These are sometimes worn by younger girls before they fully develop as strong support is not required at that age. However, they are also quite popular with adults for something comfortable and cute.

Brazilian cut underwear is when the back of the underwear is cut somewhere in-between regular briefs and a g-string.

The purpose of the bustier is to push up the breasts. Similar to a basque in the upper half, the main difference is the bustier usually ends around the waist.

This is the equivalent to a loose singlet. Usually made of a silk like fabric I believe these are usually worn beneath sheer blouses or simply to keep warm. Although, these days camisoles almost pass as outerwear depending on the style you purchase.

Usually worn to train your waist into a smaller shape, corsets are now worn as fashion wear and to help push the bust up. I would say there are now two types of corsets. The first is the corset sold at your lingerie store, they look just like a corset but are not properly built to actually have the original effect of a corset as often plastic is used as the choice of material for the boning. The second type are the more traditional corsets, usually made with whalebone or steel for boning which has a much stronger impact when laced up.

These are stiff or structured petticoats, that were used in the old days to help hold out women’s skirts. They are still used now for various purposes.

Cuban heel
This is the detail on the heel which is usually seen on backseam stockings. Although their is no longer a practical purpose for the Cuban heel it continues to be a popular design. It was originally intended for a time when hosiery was weaker to prevent damage to areas which were most likely to wear.

Cupless Bra or Frame Bra
A cupless bra is designed without any cups. It is usually worn with pasties to cover the nipples, or it can be worn over another bra as a stylistic feature. 

Demi-cup bra
This is also known as a balcony bra. Instead of a full cup a demi-cup bra is usually a half cup or three quarters so you see more breast. The way these bras tend to be designed means you get nice rounded cleavage as they generally push the breasts up from the lower section of the bra.

Similar to fishnet, the difference is fencenet is a type of hosiery with much a much larger diamond shape knit, similar to the shape of wire fencing.

Fishnet is a type of hosiery which is made up of a small diamond shape knit.

Frame Knicker or Overt Knicker
A frame knicker is a cheeky open style knicker. It is designed using just the external frame structure of the knicker to create shape. It can be worn on it's own or over another knicker to add a stylistic element.  

The French-cut underwear cuts the leg little higher than most underwear. Think Baywatch style!

A harness is inspired by a horse riding bridal. Often made from leather, elastic or latex it is designed to frame the body, rather than be supportive. A harness can be used to give a more fetishistic look to your look and is worn over lingerie or fashion garments. 

High waist brief
This is a brief where the rise at the top of the underwear comes up a little higher. Usually just below or even over the belly button.

Keyhole bra
A keyhole bra usually has a small triangle shape cut out in between where the breasts sit. As far as I’m aware there is no real purpose for this feature, it simply a design element.

Longline bra
The longline bra usually consists of an extra inch of material beneath the bust. It can be worn simply for the aesthetic or to help offer more support to the back and bust.

Longline corset
There are many different variations of corsets. The longline corset usually covers a little more of the body and sits comfortably over the hips.

Midi slip
The midi slip is simply a slip which is mid length, they usually end just below the knee but sometimes can go to mid calf.

This is simply a night gown. Sometimes this can be referred to as a slip or even a babydoll.

Also known as side hoops, these were used in the old days to help extend only the width of your skirt at a time when this was the fashion. Now some lingerie brands create them as a fashion addition to your lingerie.

These are usually sheer hosiery which cover the leg and body from toes to waist.

Push-up bra
Fairly self explanatory but just incase your new to this, a push-up bra is a bra designed to increase your cleavage by using padding.

Slips can be worn underneath your clothing to help keep you warm, to cover you beneath a sheer piece or to separate you from uncomfortable fabrics. Also available in a half slip, slips were originally much simpler than they are now as they were intended for more practical purposes. Now slips come in many different styles and are sometimes worn to bed as nightgowns.

Stay-up stockings
Stay-up stockings are hosier which cover the leg from toes to thigh with a small silicon liner at the top in order to help the stockings stay up on the leg. This is a modern version of stockings which do not need suspenders to be worn.

Although their are many variations on this, the one I have found be most accurate is when stockings are refer to hosiery which covers the leg from toes to thigh. Similar to stay-ups the difference is stockings generally do not include any silicon so they require suspenders to stay up.

Strapless bra
This is a bra without any straps or straps which can be detached and does not offer as much support as a standard bra. It is usually worn when you wear a dress or top which you prefer not to have your bra straps showing.

Suspender Belt or Garter Belt
A suspender belt is designed to hold your stockings in place. It fits around the waist with 4-8 suspender clips that attach to your stockings. There are many modern variations on the suspender. As far as I can tell, suspender Belt seems to be the English terminology and garter belts seems to be the American Terminology. 

These are sometimes referred to as bodysuits. A teddy/bodysuit is just like a leotard. These can be great pieces to wear as fitted tops beneath a skirt.

Underbust corset
My understanding is the underbust corset is a more modern variation of the corset. It still shapes the wearers body while keeping the breasts free.

Underwire bra
This is a bra with a small wire placed beneath each cup of the bra. The purpose of this is to help support and shape your breasts in a certain way.

Also known as a waist cincher, is similar to a corset in that it brings in the waits. However, now some people wear waspies as belts over a dress or with a skirt as a fashion statement. 

Please note: This list of lingerie terms is simply my understanding of the terms, there is always room for different interpretations.