What Is a Quarter-Cup Bra?

By Stacey Kole

A quarter-cup bra may be referred to as a shelf, balconette or open-cup bra, but the concept is the same no matter the name. Half the size of the demi bra, it supports only the lower part of the breast, typically exposing part or all of the areola. Because of its size and construction, strong support is out of the question, making the quarter-cup bra more fashionable than functional.

Young Woman in an Evening Gown Getting Out Of the Back Seat of a Car Onto a Red Carpet
credit: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images
A quarter-cup bra is ideal for cocktail-dress cleavage.

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Who and When

Women with A- to C-size cups do best with this type of bra; if you have larger breasts, there's a risk of too little support. Available in fabrics ranging from lace to satin to cotton, the quarter-cup bra is often most desirable for wear in the privacy of your home. Its usefulness isn't limited to indoors, of course. If you'd like to show off that plunging dress, this bra may be the answer to your lingerie prayers: Because of its ability to produce cleavage despite minimal material, a quarter-cup bra with adequate support is ideal under a low-cut frock.