Bras are a work of creative genius. From their humble beginnings to the showstoppers available today (in store or online at DeBra’s), bras are some of the most intricately crafted pieces of clothing a girl can wear. But what does everything do? We explain the key elements of every bra.
The underwire provides support and lifts the breasts. It is a often metal u-shaped wire that is sewn into the bra underneath the breasts. Underwires are key in support as they distribute weight of the breast on the bra whilst maintaining the integrity of the cup shape. The force of the breast on the bra is dispersed through the underwire and up the straps, another key component in a bra.
Bra cups are designed to hold and shape the breast tissue. The cups are sewn directly into the band and have straps sewn into the top. There are many different types of cup shapes, which are detailed in our Bras For Any Outfit article.
The wings secure the bra to the body and when fastened, provide much needed support to the shoulders and help improve posture. The rigidity of this band comes from pulling the wires into position under the breasts and the clasp.
Hooks & Eyes
Hooks & eyes, commonly known as the clasp, are essential in creating the desired support of a bra. They vary in number and width depending on the type of bra - for example, a longline bra may have up to five (YES, FIVE!) clasps and an unwired training bra may have only one. It’s important to choose which clasp is most comfortable for you. The most common type of hook and eye closure is three sets of two, where the bra can be adjusted as the band loses elasticity.
When trying a bra, it is important to try the clasp on the set closest to the end of the bra. This will let you tighten the bra as it ages, increasing the longevity of the bra.
Bra straps perform multiple functions, the major one being they keep the cup in place, not to take the full weight of the breasts. While the band keeps the bra in the right horizontal place on the body, the straps help maintain the bra’s vertical place. They’re often made of elastic, but can be padded for extra support. This is especially prevalent in bras designed for larger cup sizes and maternity bras, where thinner straps can dig into the skin and can cause issues like hyperpigmentation or cysts. Most straps on modern bras are highly adjustable to allow for long term use.
Adjusters, Rings & Slides
Adjusters allow bra straps to be adjusted to the appropriate height for the wearer. The ring component is often metal and joins the adjustable section of the strap to the non-adjustable section. The slider can shorten or lengthen bra straps by looping the strap material through the ring. Some sliders move the entire length of the strap but the most common sliders do not. This is due to the differing width of the bra strap to bolster support towards the breasts.
The centre section of the bra that separates and connects the cups goes by many names and can take many forms. We’ll be calling it the bridge. The bridge is rigid and, apart from separating the cups, stabilises the position of the bra on the body. It works in tandem with the wings and straps to provide horizontal and vertical support by keeping the underwire flush against the chest. This is also a good way to test whether or not a bra fits - if the bridge is flat, it fits.
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