At my husband’s suggestion, I will be presenting a series of educational posts for the men out there who don’t know a chemise from a teddy. They may not all be terribly enlightening for our female readers, but at least they will benefit in the long run by having a place to direct their boyfriends. If the male in your life gives you a quizzical look and his eyes glaze over when you ask for a cami/tap panty set for Valentine’s Day, you know where to send him! So, without further ado….
Part One: The Underwire Brassiere
The sliced white bread of any panty drawer, the underwire bra is the foundation garment that most women rely on for their basic day-to-day breast support. It is comprised of no less than 9 (and upwards of 25) pieces – 2 cups, 2 straps, the gore, the band or wings, the closure, and of course, 2 wires. Here is a basic explanation of the role that each part plays in support:
1 – Cups – the part that actually covers and holds the breast; the most common size are A, B, C and D, though they vary according to country of origin and go all the way up to M!
2 – Straps – support the cups and keep the bra in place; often fitted with nylon-coated metal adjusters to increase or decrease the strap length. (exception: Strapless Bras)
3 – Gore – center strip of fabric that lies flat on the sternum and connects the cups.
4 – Band/Wings – that seemingly random number in front of the cup size is the band size (i.e. 32, 34, 36) or the measurement of the rib cage. The wings wraps around the body and connect in the back, and their width dramatically affects the level of support the bra offers. Depending upon the construction, the wings may be attached to a cradle and/or bottom band, further enhancing the support.
5 – Closure – Typically one or more hook and eyelets, it can also be ribbon, buttons, snaps or a zipper.
6 – Wires – Steel wires inside the lining of the cup support the breast and provide a sturdy frame for the bra. They help to create a desired shape and vary according to size.