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Anatomy of a Panty Drawer, pt. 2

Part Two: The Molded Brassiere

This is actually a sub-division of the Underwire Bra category, but I think it begs clarification. Bras can be made of any material – cotton, nylon, leather, plastic… you name it. But the distinction of molded (or moulded) bras lies in the manner of production. The fabric of choice is actually stretched over a cup-shaped mold on a machine, then heated to a very high temperature to set the shape. Typically, bra manufacturers will use a foam-based material that holds its form more easily, providing a smooth silhouette and exceptional support. Depending upon the thickness of the foam and the construction of the cups, the bra could be further categorized as either a “Padded” or “Push-up” bra, both of which are typically employed to present the illusion of a fuller bust.

Ironically, this is far from the original intention of the first padded bra, invented in 1929 by D.J. Kennedy as a breast-protector for female Olympic athletes. Comprised of air-filled tubes, the bra was designed to allow air to pass from one cup to the other in the event of impact. The concept didn’t catch on as an everyday breast supporter until the advent of Dior’s New Look in 1947, when the desirable silhouette included a prominent bustline. More structured bras gained popularity throughout the ’50s, as women began to emulate the Pin-Up Girl aesthetic. Wonderbra, the brand synonymous with cleavage enhancement, developed their “Model 1300 Push Up Bra” in 1961, though it didn’t rocket to worldwide popularity until the early ’90s.

As we near the end of the ’00s, we’re living in a highly breast-conscious era. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, breast augmentation was the most popular surgical cosmetic procedure performed in 2006, with a record 329,000 women opting to go under the knife, up 55% since 2000. Granted, this figure includes reconstructive surgery on breast cancer patients, but I think it says something about society’s overall attitude towards breast size. Just the other day, I caught a few minutes of a tv show called “My Small Breasts and I” on BBC America, but I had to change the channel within minutes, so appalled was I by the women’s attitudes. Having spent most of my life as an A/B cup and being just fine with it, (as a ballet dancer, the smaller they were, the better) I simply can’t understand why so many women desperately need their breasts to be bigger. This is why we carry so few push-up bras at Lille Boutique – we just don’t understand why women insist on burdening themselves with all that extra padding. Whatever size you are – 36A, 34C, 32E – it doesn’t matter – the female form is always going to be beautiful!

But if a molded bra is a necessity in your panty drawer, then by all means, go for it. Perhaps you suffer from…ahem, prominent nipples…and you need that extra layer of cushion to avoid offending your co-workers. Or maybe you have a fantastic vintage dress that you just can’t seem to fill out, but you don’t want to pay big bucks to have it tailored. We understand. These things happen. Fear not, ladies – we’ve got you covered. The aforementioned Vera Wang Plunge Padded Underwire Bra is an ideal option for those of you who need a reliable molded bra, but don’t want a lot of padding. If you’re looking for a bit more…um, assistance…. I would recommend the Silk Padded Plunge Bra, which has a lot more going on in the falsies department. Finally, if you’re not on a budget, the silk Tara Bra by Eres is exquisite enough to make even me break my no padded-bras rule. Impeccably constructed of black silk over sheer foam, it offers tremendous support without actually changing your breast size – which is, in my humble opinion, exactly what a bra should do!

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