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How Much Should You Spend on a Bra?

What You Need to Know About Bra Construction? It’s Complicated

  |   By Elisabeth Dale

What goes into a bra—other than your breasts? I pay attention to the right fit but don’t inspect every little detail of the finished products found on the hangers in my favorite lingerie store. What do I need to know about bra construction?

I don’t treat my bras as complicated pieces of equipment, despite the engineering and science that goes into their design. I admit that I rarely wash them by hand, although I do use a lingerie bag and gentle detergent and hang them to dry. I take care to store them properly: turning lace cups inside one another or laying molded cups flat so they won’t bend or crush formed fabric. But other days I’ll just whip them off and toss them in a drawer. I get mad when a favorite item begins to look forlorn and worn out because it’s received too little attention.

Most of my bras are unique not just in color, style, and size, but also in brand and general construction. Some have more working parts than others. They aren’t joined with identical stitching patterns or seams. They have common ingredients but are fashioned in a variety of ways. I wanted to know more about a bra “recipe,” and asked Bok Goodall, Director of Brand Development at Love Claudette, to clue me in.

Each incorporates a baker’s dozen of components: main fabric, facing elastic, strap elastic, binding, wire casing, wires, hook and eyes, slides, rings, labels, and thread. The possibilities within each subcategory is extensive (fabrics alone could be knitted or woven, from microfiber, satin, georgette, to silk, cotton, etc.) As Bok pointed out, “each may be made up in the same threads but knitted or finished in one of a multitude of ways to achieve the desired result.” There’s no telling what dyes have been used, and consumers can’t know where each garment’s pieces originate. Wires alone vary by rigidity, thickness, and shape. Finally, some foundations have added padding or feature pre-molded or knitted (e.g. seamless) cups.

Writing this post made me feel guilty about the way I handle my foundations. I want so much from a bra (style, comfort, support, for starters), but I’m not willing to give a whole lot back in return. It may be time for me to start treating my intimate apparel the same way I regard my breasts: with a little kindness and gentle affection. Maybe then I’ll get some reciprocal lingerie love.

What about you? How much care do you give to your lingerie? What would you like to know about bra construction?

Photo credit: Don McCunn

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