Bra, an informal shortening of the term brassiere, was first introduced in the 1920s. Just as its name changed through the decades, so did its rationale. Bras lifted, enlarged, supported, revealed, and covered women's breasts throughout the decades. By the 1930's, it was recognised that the measurement of the bust and the size of the breasts needed two different scales (A, B. C, D).
The first strapless bra appeared in 1934, and a little later, underwired bras were worn to give breasts a more substantial silhouette. In the forties padded bras were introduced followed by the push-up bra and a myriad of styles developed including, the balconette bra which lifts the bosom forwards; the classic sheer bra to provide a smooth outline; t-shirt bra with woven cups; as well as sports bras, seamless bras, strapless and shelf bras.
In 1992, Wonderbra - a padded, underwired push-up bra- was launched and took the world by storm. By the late 1990s, the bra or brassiere had became one of the most complex pieces of lingerie, made with up to 43 different components.
The main styles of bra are:
Convertible Bra: Convertible bras have changeable straps, which can modify the bra into a halter, racer-back or strapless style.
Demi-cup Bra: Demi-cup bras are contoured, together with underwire and the cups cut away to reveal the top of the breast. A very flattering style and generally worn with low-cut dresses or tops.
Push-up Bra: Push-up bras have additional padding at the bottom portion of the cup, which lifts the bosom and gives the illusion of a fuller bust.
Sports Bra: Sports bras will help to prevent damage to the breast tissue. Supported by the non-elastic Cooper's ligaments, manufacturers often categorise their sports-bra line by the level of impact exercise can have.
Seamless Bra: Seamless bras have moulded cups, giving a smooth and transparent look to sheer or clingy outerwear. Shelf Bra: Shelf bras simply and only provide support and coverage underneath the breasts and essentially expose the nipples. Risqué, they usually come with boning for uplifted cleavage.
Strapless Bra: Strapless bras have wide sides and sewn in silicone stitching to keep the bra in place
Because of their complexity bras come in a combination of and wide range of fabrics. While fine cottons were always a staple, silk net satin, brocade, nylon, jersey and lace bras were and are popular together with satin imitations like Lycra silk, satin crepe de chine, tactel and polyester.
Unlined Lace Bra
Make your own bra: In depth blog about bra making
Find out more about the beginnings of the Bra.
Top selection of Bras to buy from Bra-Bras. Includes Lingerie, Hosiery and Swimwear. Recommended.