A famous line goes “The right bra can change your world in an instance” and it does just that. The bra is a piece of woman’s undergarment that covers and supports their breasts. There are different types in different parts of the world and give women a sense of confidence. It grants women inner relief and satisfaction which enables them to walk around masses with head held high.
Table of content
1. History of the bra
2. Types of bras
i. Padded bra
ii. Unlined bra
iii. Strapless bra
iv. Push-up bra
v. Sports bra
vi. Stick-on bra
vii. Wireless bra
3. Sizes of bra
4. Bra shopping tips
5. Bra fitting problems
6. Benefits of bras
8. Concluding comments
History of the bra
The very first bras range back to the times of Ancient Greece when women used to support their breasts with the help of bands of fabric wrapped around them. It wasn’t until 1914 the actual bra with cups and straps came into existence. On 3rd November, the United States Patent gave a patent for this garment to Mary Phelps.
This first model was made with handkerchiefs. From then on, the evolvement of this garment took a start and it’s been continuing since today. There are various types of bra that we can find today with each meant for some specific dress or purpose.
Types of bras:
We all have events to attend. It could be a daily office 9-5 pendulum or a hip-hop bridal shower for your best friend, it could be an extravagant movie premier where contemporary clothing is a must or it could be a formal work dinner with your boss and colleagues.
While each occasion demands a particular type of clothing, it also imparts the need of complementing them with the right bra. So along with planning your next dress for a party, also consider bra shopping for it.
1. Padded bra:
This gets the name due to the presence of padding in their cups. This cushioning adds fullness to the breast area and makes up for well-rounded and attractive breasts. They are comfortable and high in utility.
Depending on the type you opt for, the amount of padding may vary. This type of bra cannot be worn with strapless or backless dresses.
2. Unlined bra:
What is an unlined bra? It is the opposite of the padded one. They are constructed with only one piece of fabric and not “lined” with multiple fabric to enhance the padding and support. This type of bra doesn’t hold its shape and can easily be crumbled into a ball.
They are probably the most comfortable bra because they are light. But, they may not provide enhanced support and should be worn with care by women with large breasts.
3. Strapless bra:
A shoulder strap is a necessary component of a bra until it is a strapless bra. As the name indicates, it lacks a shoulder strap and it worn under off-the-shoulder dresses. It became available for sale in the 1950s and was a huge undergarment after women obsessed with off-the-shoulder tops.
They include features like rubber lining for added support and may also feature underwires and molded cups. If you have planned to wear a strapless dress for homecoming or a wide-neck shirt for a casual party, this might just be the bra for you.
The biggest advantage of this type is that it doesn’t get dislocated but that depends if you have purchased the most suitable one for your size. Get the one that has a strong no-slip grip and have padded boning.
Your normal size in a strapless bra may seem a little tighter but that okay; it’ meant to be that way.
4. Push-up bra:
It is a normally constructed bra with one specific consideration and that is, to provide increased lift. They are designed to basically push the breast upward and closer together to enhance cleavage. Who doesn't like cleavage? – Be it a woman who wants to add an element of intimacy to her clothing or a man who is allured by it, it’s a common liking.
It provides roundness to the breasts and makes them look full. Depending on the thickness of the padding, push-up bras can be categorized into 3 levels.
Level 1: This includes padding on one-third of the base and adds half a cup size to your breast.
Level 2: This includes padding until just below the nipples and adds up to one cup size. If you are a woman with petite breast or placid ones, this could provide a sexy lift.
Level 3: Known as the explosive push-up bras, they increase the cup size by two. It adds a nice roundness but, keep your hands away from them if your breasts are naturally full because it may add uncomfy volume.
Push-up bras work best when they appear natural. You don’t want the cups to be stiff and band to be very tight. It is most effective worn under t-shirts, tube cut dresses and plunging tops. As they can be tight, don’t wear them for too long. Keep them as an event-based option.
5. Sports bra:
For all the gym and sport freak ladies out there, this is the product for you. Designed specifically to support breasts during excessive movement, this is like an ordinary vest with no lower part.
It includes all the basic parts like strap, cups, band and/or the underwire. They are stronger than all other types of bras and minimizes breast movement.
Since physical exercise can be high impact like swimming, running and deadlifts, thus the chosen sports bra must neither be too tight that it starts to pain nor too loose to permit breast movement. Here is what to consider while purchasing them:
Look for the correct cup size: Most stores allow you to try bras in the stores so make the most of this opportunity. Insert your breast in the cups and see if any tissue is popping out form side or top. If yes, it is too small for you. Try out the next size.
Look for a comfortable band size: The band must not ride up; it indicates the bra is too loose. Choose the band size which remains horizontal. You can try that by reaching your toes and coming back to see if it has been misplaced.
Finding the perfect sports bra band lies between choosing the size which is tight and breathable at the same time.
Shape up: Every woman has a different shape of the breast and must choose the sports bra according to it. For those who have fuller breasts would generally require a well-rounded bra while those with shallow breasts would look for a bra with less contouring or shaping.
6. Stick-on bra:
This is the most unique of all. You might have seen Hollywood actresses draped in exquisitely graceful and flamboyant dresses with receding backline or completely backless dresses. All the previous types of bras can’t seem to go with them so how do they pull them off?
The answer is stick-on bras or bra breast tape. These are stick-able pads that will not cover the whole of your breasts but only the nipple area. They can easily stick with the body and removed as well. You can decide on the degree of lift by altering the placement of the upper part.
They are washable and reusable so the investment won’t go in drain. Perfect for dresses with fancy necklines and backlines, this enhances your chances for carrying a fancy dress confidently because there are no worries of misplaced straps or bands.
7. Wireless bra:
While underwires provide shape to a bra, they can dig in the skin and nudge your breasts every now and then. Wireless bras or bralette bras don’t have this problem. They feature an adjustable crisscross or straight lace design that holds your bust in a comfortable manner.
What are bralette bras used for?
These bras are highly comfy and are good for women with back and shoulder pains as it instills no excess pressure or stress. Also, they are mostly built with lace so they are extremely beautiful and alluring and can be the perfect lingerie to reveal when you are expecting an intimate time with your boyfriend or husband.
Sizes of bras:
Talking about the US, the bra size range from 30A to 58K. Now, what is this number and letter – In simple terms, the letters stand for the cup size while the numbers tell you the band size.
To measure the band size, take a tape measure and run it all the way around your body beneath the breasts to take the size in inches. Round to the nearest even number when applicable.
To measure the cup size, run the distance around the fullest part of your bustline. Now, subtract the band size from the bust size and to calculate the cup size.
Also, note that the cup size is linked directly to the band size. So a 36 size band size would be different for a B cup and an E cup. This is due to the reason that the bigger your breasts are, the larger you are around the torso. Don’t be shy to ask for the assistance of a salesperson at the lingerie store, they are usually very helpful and guide you towards the best bra size for you.
Bras shopping tips
Be sure to follow these tips when you go out shopping for your next bra. These will help you in selecting the most appropriate size and type for your breasts.
1. Check for transparency:
Take a thin cotton shirt which is white in color, to the lingerie shop to see the visibility of the bra under it. Experimenting with the thinnest of the fabric gives you the idea of how each bra would appear beneath your other dresses. You don’t want any mishaps in that regard, right?
2. The last clasp:
Whenever you are testing the bras, make sure that you fasten it with the last hook. Bras tend to loosen up with time and only by following this tip, will you be able to tighten them accordingly.
3. The bra shouldn’t move:
One test of checking whether the bra is the right fit for you is to lift your arms in the trying room. If the bra transfers upwards, it means the band size is larger. Go for a smaller one and repeat the same practice.
4. Dents on your shoulders?
You might have often seen strap marks on your shoulders after you start wearing a bra – that’s because your size has changed or you have been wearing the wrong size the entire time.
Straps are made to carry only 10 percent of the weight of your chest and marking means you are putting too much pressure on the straps. It’s time to switch to a smaller band size as it will provide more support to your chest.
5. Make underwire your friend:
If you are choosing a bra with underwire, get the one that’s not uncomfortable. Underwire is meant to support the shape of the bra and shouldn’t poke you. If it does, you need to increase the cup size.
6. The band should be straight:
If you are wearing the right fit, your bra band will always be in a straight line around your torso even if you lift your arms.
7. Never be shy to ask for help:
No matter how strong your information is, it is more than likely that you would find a bra that defies your studied information. So, it’s best if you discuss the issue with the salesperson.
Different brands have different sizes. A 32DD size of Calvin Klien might be equivalent to 34A of Victoria’s Secret. Go to the try room and see if the worn item is appearing to be problematic. Come back and narrate the issue to the salesperson to get what is appropriate for you. Don’t be shy, that’s what they are there for.
Bra fitting problems
Quad stands for four but how does two of your boobs convert to four? That’s when you have encountered the “Quad-Boob” effect i.e. a little bump that spills over the top or side of the bra. This can even be visible under some of your tops and is embarrassing.
The first solution is the simplest one: go up a cup size. Most likely, you are wearing a cup size that is too small for you that causes a muffin top to appear over the top of the bra.
If that doesn’t solve the problem, try a style that features full cups. This refers to the cups which cover the majority of your boobs.
What’s the main purpose of a bra despite covering your breasts? It’s to provide a lift that accounts for a flattering look. It is futile if it doesn’t do that. To see if your breasts appear to be sagging, stand in front of the mirror and look at your profile from front and side both.
The first way-out is is to go down a band size. If you are wearing a 36B, switch to 34C because the weight of your breasts is causing the bra to be pulled downwards.
The second solution is to change the bra. Generally, the life of a bra is 4-8 months and if you have been using it for a time longer than this, the spandex might have lost its elasticity and you need a new purchase. The way you wash can also destroy a bra.
Always use a good detergent and warm water. One smart way to wash your sensitive bra is a bra saver laundry washer. It encloses them in a protective cage which saves it from extreme detergent exposure or being tangled with the rest of the contents.
Straps falling off:
Ever been in the middle of a meeting or cooking food in your kitchen and suddenly the bra strap falls down from the shoulder? What do you do in that situation – you instantly look around to see if no one is watching and bring the strap back to the position or if you have time, you go to the restroom and get it right.
What causes it! The first issue is untightened straps. If your straps are not tightened enough, they are more likely to fall down – get them right.
Another cause of this problem is the loose band. If you can fit two fingers behind the band, it’s too loose. This causes it to ride up when you are moving your forward or bending causing the straps to go loose and fall off the shoulder. Go down a band size.
If the issue persists, try out a different style. Wide styled bras like balcony style have straps located far away and are not suitable for narrow shoulders. Try a style in which straps are inwards or get an accessory like a strapper that holds them in position securely.
Bra band digs in:
If your bra band is hurting you by digging in your skin, its too tight for you. Get one band size larger and one cup size smaller i.e. if 38D is tight for you, get a 40C. Cup size is related directly to the band size and the rule of thumb is’ when you go down a band size, you go up a cup size and vice versa.
Bra back extenders that increase the length of the band can also be purchased as a helpful accessory for this fitting problem.
Benefits of bras
Why have we been raving about bras for so long? That’s because they are extremely beneficial for women, a necessity if you ask us. What advantages does wearing the accurate bra brings to a woman?
1. Improves your body shape:
Let’s be honest; what’s sexier, hanging breasts of a 40-year old who decides to go braless or well-lifted breasts of a 28-year old girl? It’s the latter of course. Bras give your body an attractive look, the curves that males can die for.
Those who don’t want to look attractive can go braless, but for all those inspirational and passionate women out there, it’s a necessity for you.
2. Enhances your confidence:
When you are wearing a bra, you can walk around and do all sorts of activities confidently. You can run, lift, bend and hold without being concerned about any wardrobe malfunctions. It elevates your integrity and self-belief.
3. Prolong the inevitable:
Your boobs will start sagging eventually with age. That’s because the ligaments that hold them up tightly grow weaker with time and lose their elasticity. Wearing bras is a mean of reducing the burden on them.
If you have no breast support, they will have to work harder and will die out sooner so why let them when you can avoid it.
4. Relaxes your back:
All those women with big breasts can be saved from back pains if they start wearing bras form the start. More weight on the chest means your back has to go through more effort to support them. Eventually, your shoulders can roll forwards resulting in a slumped posture.
Who wants that? Unless the answer is “me”, you must wear a bra especially during working hours and special occasions.
1. What is the smallest bra size?
The smallest band size is 32 and while many people think A is the smallest cup size, it is actually AA or AAA is some stores. Also, note that cup size is interrelated with the band size. A 36D will be smaller than a 40AA.
2. What is the largest bra size?
That depends on the region you are living in and the store you are visiting. USA deals in sizes up to 58K while some stores in the USA only have sizes up to 48F.
3. How can I make my bra more comfortable?
While buying the correct size and style for your breasts is the basic way to get a comfortable bra, there are other ways of making them comfortable. Wash the bra several times before the first use as it can soften up the fabric and make it more flexible.
If the underwire is hurting you, you should consider buying a larger size or a different style.
4. Where should the underwire land?
It must not cover any part of your breast tissue. Rather, it should land right below the boobs, flat on the torso.
5. Are dryers bad for bras?
Yes, for sure. The heat can expand the elastic parts of the bra and they can shrink back to a reduced size. It is always recommended to air dry your bras.
6. How often should I wash my bra?
That depends on the use. Generally, you must wash it after every 3-4 wears. But if you sweat more or wear it for extended periods of time, the time of washing should be sooner.
7. How many bras should I have?
That entirely depends on the woman. Like there is no general rule for the number of underwear a man should have, there is no ruling here too. Buy a few for special occasions and at least five for everyday use.
We hope we have provided you with a complete guide on bras. Although there may be many other questions, we have tried our best to cover the majority of fundamental issues, types, and solutions. I hope it helped.