Women have for centuries in accordance to social status supported, covered and modified their breasts using various undergarments. In the western world, from the 14th century, the corset was used, mainly by wealthier women in the beginning and with the passing of time, by more women of not such a wealthy status. Corsets, pushed the bosom upwards and supported the back, extending the chest forward and straightening the torso.corset

By the end of the 19th century, women had begun to use the bra which was based on the breasts being supported by a garment held up from the shoulders. In the 1930s, commercial production in large scale began to appear leading to a multi-million dollar fashion industry evolving in the 20th century. The corset was replaced and by the end of the war, most fashion minded women were using bras.

And although the most probable reason that women started to wear bras is fashion, informal sources report that a good amount of women today, have done so to conform to social or maternal pressure. There is a misconception that follows us up to this day which is the belief that brassieres help avoid breast sagging. Despite of this belief, studies show that 5 to 25% of western women do not use bras. However, that does not affect the industry which manages to make 16 billion dollars in world-wide sales per year! Just in the USA, in 2012, every woman owned an average of 9 bras and wore 6 regularly.

A bra is very complicated attire that consists of 20 to 48 parts and the majority of them come in 36 sizes which consist of two different measurements, the band length and the cup volume. Add to that that the cup size is dependent of the strap size, for example a 32A does not have the same cup size as 34A even though A is the cup size.

types of bra
balconette

Brassieres come in many styles such as backless, convertible, minimizing, plunge, full cup, demi-cup, soft cup, posture, strapless, underwire, balconette, shelf, T-shirt, padded, push-up, unlined, racerback and sheer just to name a few.

plunge

The grand variety this garment is offered in has its consequences. Studies indicate that as much as 85% of women are wearing the wrong size bra which can cause various problems, the biggest being back and neck pain. Because of this, Marks and Spencer have been doing bra fittings for some time now and many have followed, to the point of being common practice now, at least in the U.S. and many parts of Europe.

Someone will actually measure your breasts and provide you with your size although there is some speculation in regards to how well fitted women actually are. You should also be aware that gaining weight, pregnancy or the changes the body goes through as it gets older affects bra size.

You may also consider that breasts have been categorized into seven types. According to your type of breast, you may consider using a bra that will give you a fuller and more even look. These types are:

Asymmetric: The majority of women have different sized breasts but sometimes, this is notable. If you fall into this category, you should look for bras with removable inserts to be able to adjust the cup size.

nursing

East West: Some breasts look in the opposite direction. If yours’ are like that, you should probably choose a t-shirt bra that will slightly push your breasts towards each other, evening out the outline.

Side set: If your breasts tend to look away from the center of your torso, you need a plunge bra that will push them inwards and upwards.

Slender: If you have small breasts that are longer than wide but still, wider at the top than on the bottom, try a plunge bra that will provide uplifting and centering. If you are comfortable with a bra with an outer curve padding, then give it a go as it will provide more spectacular results.

Full cup

Bell shape: if you have this type of breast, then they are narrower at the top and fuller at the bottom.

Tear drop: This type is fuller at the bottom and resemble a bell. Take your pick. You can use any type of bra you like and you’ll look spectacular!

Round: Equally full at the top as on the bottom. You don’t need much support and you don’t have to use underwiring or structured cups.

Choosing the type of bra that best suits you will result in a better fit and feel when wearing it. There are many bras that are available on the market and even though a bra is not a cheap garment, one bought in the supermarket is not the same as top brand bras. Some of the most famous makers are La Perla, Wonderbra, Wacoal, Chantelle, Agent provocateur, Victoria’s Secret and quite a few more that are not to be shunned at. After all, a very big part of dressing has to do with personal tastes.

Brassieres then, are not as simple as they seem and there’s a lot of craftsmanship put into their creation. They cost money to make and money to buy while there is a lot of misconception about what to buy that fits and looks the best. As with any other garment, there are bras and there are BRAS! What each one of us picks should be based on an informed decision. If you have something to add to this (and there’s a lot), please leave it in the comments bellow.

Tell everyone about your bra experiences. Maybe it will help someone else!

bra