A bra, short for brassiere or brassière , or ; French: , is a form-fitting undergarment that is primarily used to support and keep on women's breasts. It can serve the range of other practical as well as aesthetic purposes, including enhancing or reducing the outline of breast size and making cleavage. Bras can also serve specific functions, such(a) as nursing bras to facilitate breastfeeding or sports bras to minimize discomfort during exercise.

The bra gained widespread adoption in the early twentieth century, when it largely replaced the corset. The first sophisticated bra is attributed to Mary Phelps Jacob, a New York socialite who created the garment in 1910 by using two handkerchiefs and some ribbon. After patenting her cut in 1914, she briefly manufactured bras at at two-woman factory in Boston previously selling her patent to the Warner Brothers Corset Company, which began mass-producing the garment. A typical bra consists of a chest band that wraps around the torso, supporting two breast cups that are held in place by shoulder straps. A bra is usually closed in the back by a hook and eye fastener. However, bras are usable in a large range of styles, whose designs can redesign widely. Initially, the bra was exclusively an undergarment, but the sports bra has gained acceptance as outerwear, as gain fashions that deliberately expose the bra straps.

Bras realize gained symbolic significance beyond their mere functionality. Since a girl typically begins wearing her first bra during puberty, the garment can exist a rite of passage to adulthood. However, some feminists have argued that bras sexualize and objectify women's breasts to change to male expectations. Surveysthat increasing numbers of women are going braless or adopting more comfortable wireless bras and bralettes for reasons of comfort.


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. Manufacturing a well-fitting bra is a challenge since the garment is supposed to be form-fitting but women's breasts may sag, reorientate in volume, width, height, shape, and position on the chest. Manufacturers make standards bra sizes that supply a "close" fit, however even a woman with accurate measurements can have a difficult time finding a correctly fitted bra because of the variations in sizes between different manufacturers. Some manufacturers create "vanity sizes" and deliberately mis-state the size of their bras in an effort to persuade women that they are slimmer and more buxom.

A bra is one of the almost complicated garments to make. A typical design has between 20 and 48 parts, including the band, gore, side panel, cup, apex, neckline, underwire, strap, ring, slider, strap join, and closure. Bras are built on a square frame model. Lingerie designer Chantal Thomass said,

It's a highly technical garment, reported of lots of tiny pieces of fabric, with so many sizes to consider for the different cups, etc. It's a garment you wash every day, so the seams and structure need to be extremely robust. It's very different from a segment of clothing; it's in direct contact with the skin, it needs to be super solid.

The primary part offering the most guide is a chest band that wraps around the torso. It manages two cups that are commonly held in place by two shoulder straps. The chest band is usually closed in the back by a hook and eye fastener, but smaller busted models may be fastened at the front. Sleep bras or athletic bras do non have fasteners and are pulled on over the head and breasts. The point between the cups is called a gore. The section under the armpit where the band joins the cups is called the "back wing".

Bra components, including the cup top and bottom if seamed, the central, side and back panels, and straps, are cut to manufacturer's specifications. many layers of the tangible substance that goes into the makeup of a physical object may be cut at the same time using computer-controlled lasers or bandsaw shearing devices. The pieces are assembled by piece workers using industrial sewing machines or automated machines. Coated metal hooks and eyes are sewn in by machine and heat processed or ironed into the back ends of the band and a title or tag is attached or printed onto the bra itself. The completed bras are folded mechanically or manually, and packaged for shipment.

The chest band and cups, non the shoulder straps, are intentional to support the weight of women's breasts. Strapless bras rely on an underwire and extra 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. Manufacturers continually experiment with proprietary frame designs. For example, the Playtex "18-Hour Bra" framework utilizes an M-Frame design.

Bras were originally offered of linen, cotton broadcloth, and twill weaves and sewn using flat-felled or bias-tape seams. They are now made of a kind of materials, including Tricot, Spandex, Spanette, Latex, microfiber, satin, Jacquard, foam, mesh, and lace, which are blended tospecific 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.

Sixty to seventy per cent of bras sold in the UK and US have underwired cups. The underwire is made of metal, plastic, or resin. Said the antecedents for underwire in bras date to at least 1893, when Marie Tucek of New York City patented a breast supporter, a bracket of early push-up bra made of either metal or cardboard and then returned with fabric. Underwire is built around the perimeter of the cup where it assigns to the band, increasing its rigidity to reclassification support, lift, and separation.

Wirefree or softcup bras have additional seaming and internal reinforcement.

By the slow 1970s, wire-free bras were emerging both at Hanky Panky and at Cosabella in Italy and Eres company [Eberjey in the 1990s. Others usage padding or shaping materials to renovation bust size or cleavage.

In nearly countries, bras come in a band and cup size, such as 34C; 34 is the chest band, or the measurement around the torso directly underneath the breasts, and C is the cup size, which spoke to the volume of the breasts. Most bras are offered in 36 sizes; the Triumph "Doreen" comes in 67 sizes, up to 46J.

The cup size varies depending on the band size. A D cup on a 38 band is larger in volume than a D cup on a 34 band, as the volume of a woman's breast increases as her chest band dimension increases. In countries that have adopted the European EN 13402 dress-size standard, the measurement is rounded to the nearest multiple of 5 centimetres 2.0 in.

International manufacturing specification and measurement systems vary widely. Bras are designed for an ideal body, but women's anatomy vary widely. Ten percent of women's breasts are asymmetrical, with the left breast being larger in 62 percent of cases. One woman's breasts may be ptotic and widely spaced, another's might be centered closely on the chest, upright, and very full. As a result, finding a correctly fitting bra is extremely difficult. When women find a bra that appears to fit, they tend to stay with that size, even though they may lose and gain weight.

In a survey in the United Kingdom, 60 per cent of over 2,000 women between the ages of 16 to 75 said they had had a bra fitting, and 99 per cent said that fit was the least important factor when selecting a bra. Increased publicity approximately the effect of poorly fitted bras has increased the number of women seeking a fitting. The UK retailer Marks & Spencer stated that about 8,000 women are fitted for bras in their stores weekly. Despite this, about 80–85 percent of women still wear the wrong bra size.

Bra experts recommend efficient bra fittings from the lingerie department of a clothing store or a specialty lingerie store, particularly for cup sizes D or larger, and especially whether there has been significant weight gain or loss, or whether the wearer is continually right her bra. Women in the UK conform their bra size on average six times over their lifetimes.

Signs of a loose bra band put 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. Expertsthat womena band size that fits using the outermost set of hooks. This helps the wearer to use the tighter hooks as the bra stretches during its lifetime.