Simply put a bra is an undergarment worn by women to support the breasts.
However, it is one of the most important female garments for many reasons.
The purchase effects comfort, appearance, and potentially ones confidence.
Bras are complex garments made of numerous components. They come in a
wide variety of fabrics, colors, and styles. Most come in 36 sizes;
standards and methods of measurement vary widely.
Learn about various styles in the Apparel Search
Mass-produced bras are manufactured to fit a prototypical woman standing
with both arms at her sides. The design assumes that both breasts are equally
sized and symmetrical. A bra is one of the most complicated garments
to make. A typical design has between 20 and 48 parts, including the band,
hooks, cups, lining, and straps. The bra's main components are a chest
band that wraps around the torso, two cups, and shoulder straps. The chest
band is usually closed in the back by a hook and eye fastener, but may be
fastened at the front.
Another word for bra is brassiere. The term brassiere was used
by the Evening Herald in Syracuse, New York, in 1893. Vogue magazine
used the term brassiere in 1907, and by 1911 the word had made its way into
the Oxford English Dictionary.
A bra is a form-fitting undergarment suspender designed to support or
cover the wearer's breasts. Swimsuits, camisoles and backless dresses may
have built-in breast support.
Wearing a garment to support the breasts may date back to ancient Greece.
The method obviously evolved over the years. From the 16th century,
the undergarments of wealthier women in the Western world were dominated
by the corset, which pushed the breasts upwards. In the later 19th century,
clothing designers began experimenting with alternatives, splitting the
corset into multiple parts: a girdle-like restraining device for the lower
torso, and devices that suspended the breasts from the shoulder to the upper
torso. The Dresden-based German Christine Hardt patented the first
modern brassiere in 1899. Brassieres were initially manufactured by
small production companies and supplied to retailers. The term "cup" was
not used until 1916, and manufacturers relied on stretchable cups to accommodate
different sized breasts.
What supports the weight?
The chest band and cups, not the shoulder straps, are designed to support
the weight of women's breasts. Strapless bras rely on an underwire and additional
seaming and stiffening panels to support them. The shoulder straps of some
sports bras cross over at the back to take the pressure off the shoulders
when arms are raised.
What are common bra fabrics?
Bras were originally made of linen, cotton broadcloth, and twill weaves
and sewn using flat-felled or bias-tape seams. They are now made of a variety
of materials, including Tricot, Spandex, Spanette, Latex, microfiber, satin,
Jacquard, foam, mesh, and lace, which are blended to achieve specific
purposes. Spandex, a synthetic fiber with built-in "stretch memory", can
be blended with cotton, polyester, or nylon. Mesh is a high-tech synthetic
composed of ultra-fine filaments that are tightly knit for smoothness.
Fit is crucial:
A poorly fitted bra can cause back and neck pain. Because manufacturing
standards vary widely, finding a correctly fitting bra is difficult.
Be sure to try on various brands to find your proper fit. Also, even
if you think you found the perfect brand and fit, keep in mind that the
manufacturer can change the
specs and the next time you purchase the same brand the garment might
be slightly different. If it does not fit correctly, try another size
or another brand. Women tend to find a bra that appears to fit and
stay with that size, even though they may lose and gain weight. Signs
of a loose bra band include the band riding up the back. If the band causes
flesh to spill over the edges, it is too small. A woman can test whether
a bra band is too tight or loose by reversing the bra on her torso so that
the cups are in the back and then check for fit and comfort. Experts
suggest that women choose a band size that fits using the outermost set
of hooks. This allows the wearer to use the tighter hooks as the bra stretches
during its lifetime. Bras may be designed to enhance a woman's breast
size, or to create cleavage, or for other aesthetic, fashion or more practical
considerations. Nursing bras are designed to aid breast-feeding.
Compression bras, such as sports bras, push against and minimize breast
movement, whereas encapsulation bras have cups for support. Take your
type to research the proper bra style as well as fit based on your intended
Why so sexy?
As lingerie, bras are also about expressing feminine sex appeal and expressions
of sexual fantasy. Some bras are meant for comfort and support, and
others are purposefully designed to entice. With some bras, you can
achieve comfort, support, and appeal.
You may also want to check out the
Bras by Color:
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