Todays Brassiers are made of many different materials including cotton, rayon, silk, spandex, polyester, and lace. They are available in many styles from cups that come without any padding (and are quite sheer) to those that add significantly to the size and shape of the cup. A woman can alter her silhouette by simply purchasing a brassiere with cups that are designed to render a specific shape.

In this page

  1. Design of Brasierers
  2. Bra Styling Options

Design of Brasierers

The design process for developing a new brassiere style is an important part of the manufacturing process. Brassiere manufacturers, like other clothing manufacturers, must supply not just a functional item but one that appeals to a large enough segment of women that the products can be sold with a profit. Before a new product or product line is designed, the marketing and sales departments review data on the current line of products. They examine comments from retailers as to what they feel might sell well, female consumer attitudes in general and trends in women's purchasing habits. They may also talk to focus groups who offer their opinions on products and needs.

By the time this review is complete, the marketers and designers have decided on the next season's collection. Decisions are based on how the new styles will be positioned within the collection, special features, cut, sizing, production costs, market pricing, quality specifications, and when the new product will be launched publicly. These general specifications are essential for the designers and design engineers to use as guidelines once they leave that meeting.

Prototype drawings are made, pattern pieces are designed, and often the pattern pieces are devised using computerized programs. Components of the brassiere—cup top and bottom and side, central and back panels—render the shape. These components are cut out of cardboard using a computerized cutter. This prototype is assembled and is subject to important fine-tuning and modification. It is important to note that more styles and prototypes are created than the company intends to produce. After modifications, the appropriate prototypes are selected. Computer production of pattern is useful to size the pattern in order to fit different sizes of women.

Final selections are tested by laboratories to ensure quality, fit, sizing, etc. Then, the prototype is manufactured in the factory in some quantity and tested once again by everyone from designers to shop foremen to marketers. When all agree in the quality, fit, and market appeal, the brassiere is ready to be produced in quantity.

Bra Styling Options

The four elements of a basic bra include a bra band, cups, straps, and a closure (see Anatomy of a bra). Variations in these key elements determine the bra style. A full-band style, for example, offers the most support; it has a continuous band that extends around the body, with the cups set into it . A partial-band style has a band attached at the sides of the cups, with a center-front piece or hook separating them. The bra band may be a single layer or lined.

  • Variations in the four basic elements of a bra band, cup, strap, and closure—determine bra style. This basic bra has a partial band, a two-piece cup with underwires, wide comfort straps, and a back closure .
  • In addition to the basic bra style, other style variations include full band, padded push-up, front closure, and sports bra, based on the patterns in parentheses. You may find similar features on other patterns.

Cups can be made of one, two, or three lined or unlined sections, with two being the most common. Cups may or may not include underwires for shaping. Lace cups are often lined with sheer tricot to add stability and reduce scratchiness. You can even add padding to the cups to make a push-up bra like the orange lace one in the photo above.

Straps can be made of strap elastic (less stretchy than regular elastic), nonstretchy strapping, or self-fabric, with or without an adjuster (the most common is a ring-and-slide adjustment). Nonstretchy straps usually have some elastic at the back for ease of movement.

Bras close in either the front or back with hooks, and back closures usually have two or three size adjustments. Many sports bras pull on, with no closures at all.