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Bra history

History of the Bra

Bra history

Everyone knows what a brassier or a bra is. This type of undergarment is specifically made to cover, lift, and support a woman’s breasts. Since the earliest recording in time, women have been wearing some type of support for their breast though these undergarments were not always known as brassieres.

These days bras are not just used for coverage and support, but many are made that will actually enhance the appearance of a woman’s breast. Here is how the modern day bra came to be:

•    2500 BC: Way back when on the Greek isle of Crete, warrior woman began to wear a garment that resembled a bra that actually lifted their breasts up above their clothing. This type of bra actually left the breast of these warrior women exposed for all to see.
•    4th Century: In the early 4th Century a garment knows as the Chemise made its first appearance. At the time, the Chemise was gathered into a square or a round neckline, was usually long sleeved, and was often decorated with frill and finished off with ruffles.
•    Until the 15th Century: In those easy times, women actually wanted to de-emphasize their breasts. This saw the birth of the corset and other devices that were all designed to actually draw attention away from the breasts.
•    15th Century: in the 15th Century, an undergarment known as the bodice took center stage as women started to accentuate the fact that they had breasts. The bodice was designed to flatten the lower part of the breast and push upper part of the breast up and thus create cleavage and the appearance of a rounder, fuller breast. In a sense, the bodice was the early form of the push-up bra of today.
•    1800’s: The 1800’s saw a whole host of different inventions all aimed at breast support. While many came and went, the corset held onto much popularity until there was the invention of what would evolve into the modern day bra. This new undergarment supported the breasts, but had no laces or eyelets and was considerably smaller than a corset.
•    1907: Vogue Magazine uses the word brassier for the first time and by 1912 the term was in the Oxford English Dictionary.
•    1920s: The age of the ‘flappers’ saw a huge surge in bra popularity. At that time the flat-chested look was back in and there were bras that were actually designed to flatten the breasts instead of support them.
•    1930s to 1960s: In this time frame many advances were made in the world of the bra including the introduction of the first bikini. This time period also brought the evolution of the elastic bra to the forefront and since the 1960a, the form and the function of the bra has not changed all that dramatically except for the use of more comfortable materials.

These days fashion dictates much of how a bra is designed. It is not even uncommon anymore to see a woman wearing a brassier type top and nothing else at all. While women will no doubt always wear some type of bra to cove, support and even lift their breasts, the life of the bra has certainly been an interesting one that has seen many changes and upgrades and will no doubt see more in the future.

Bra stretch

How Much Does a Bra Stretch?

Bra stretch

Recently someone asked, “How much will a bra stretch?” Well, the answer is rather tricky. Some bras are designed for specific purposes, like sports bras and nursing bras. They are intended for situations where you really need support in order to be comfortable yet the fabric must also be flexible (imagine playing basketball in a bustierre). Sports bras feature wider straps, broader cups and stronger construction to minimize bouncing. If you’re shopping for a sports bra, you want to find one that will support your girls but not be too hot or irritating to the skin.

For everyday wear that doesn’t include exercise or excess movement, there are a huge range of choices in bras. The factor that determines how much a bra will stretch is the material it is made of. Cotton has long been the staple for bra materials because it is so comfortable. Your first bra was probably made of cotton. Cotton allows the skin to breathe, and it also allows for a lot of stretch and support at the beginning. However, after a short time cotton starts to lose its elasticity, which means the bra will not provide you enough support. Another downside to the cotton bra is that the material is thin, so you risk looking pokey from the front. Cotton also fades much quicker than other materials.

Rayon is another popular bra material, especially in lower-end bras. Rayon has a silky feel to it and comes in lots of pretty patterns that look great on the rack. The downside of rayon is that it stretches and doesn’t regain its shape, and it’s also prone to wrinkles. Not a good choice for those looking for a seamless shape under their clothing.

Another popular bra material is lace, although a much different version than is used to make Aunt Martha’s curtains. Lace bras are usually made of polyester and spandex, or a similar blend which allows for some stretch. Polyester lace can provide quite a lot of support, depending on the heaviness of the fabric. The heavier the fabric, the more the support; the lighter the fabric, the more stretch it will have. If you’re a bigger-breasted woman, you should always choose support over stretch.

Another popular bra style is the molded cup, typically made from foam or fiberfill material. Molded bra cups are made on a heat press that imitates the breast shape. Molded cups look great under thin fabrics because they’re seamless and smooth, but they do not allow for stretch. If your breasts are too big for a molded bra, they will start to spill over the top and sides, ruining the smooth line you’re going for.

The most important consideration for choosing a bra is fit. It’s estimated that nearly eight out of every 10 women are wearing the wrong bra size, which can lead to discomfort during wear, neck and shoulder pain, chaffing and a host of related problems. A professional bra fitting is highly recommended to help you determine the right size. A professional can also give you further guidance on the best fabrics to choose for your needs.