A shortened name for “brassiere,” a bra is an undergarment made to support and cover breasts. The bra evolved from corsets and became popular in the twentieth century. \n\nMany different types of bras exist, and their purposes differ—some are more suitable for everyday wear while others are for special occasions. Much like other fashion pieces, bra wearers can use the garment as a way to express themselves. Some might pick a bra based on the fashionable colors, patterns, and style that appeal to them. But other factors—such as favoring padded cups over non-padded bras—also dictate the kind of bra someone wears.\nBras and their specific uses have changed over time. Here’s a brief look at how bra design has evolved:\n\n- __Apodesmos__: In Ancient Greece, apodesmos (a band that went around the breasts) served as a type of bra. \n- __Corsets and bust bodies__: Women wore bust improvers and corsets, which confined their bodies. These items used boning, and sometimes metal, to create a sturdy structure that would emphasize a feminine silhouette and the popular styles of the time, but they were also restrictive. \n- __The breast supporter__: On March 28, 1893, Marie Tucek received a patent for a “breast supporter.” Meant to replace the corset, the breast supporter used a metal plate, cardboard, and other stiff material to fit under the breasts, with a silk or canvas “pocket” covering the breasts. The pockets resemble the modern-day push-up bra. In 1899, Christine Hardt patented a more modern bra. \n- __Handkerchief bra__: Many theories exist about who invented the brassiere, but in the US, Mary Phelps Jacob (also known as Caresse Crosby)—who filed a patent application in 1914—is given a great deal of credit. She created a bra from two handkerchiefs, pins, and ribbons. She began selling bras to friends and went on to found the Fashion Form Brassiere Company in Boston.\n- __War rationing__: In 1917, metal became a precious commodity. This, coupled with the rise of the less structured “flapper” style in the 1920s, led to corsets going out of fashion. Meanwhile, bras continued to change, with cup sizes coming about in the 1930s.\n- __Reinvention__: In the 1940s, Frederick Mellinger (founder of Frederick’s of Hollywood) created a padded bra, and an early version of the push-up bra, in order to “reshape” breasts. Plunging necklines in the 1960s led to a plunging bra to provide support while remaining hidden. Canadian Louise Poirier created the first push-up bra, which Wonderbra patented and sold. \n- __The return of the corset__: The corset saw a brief return in the 1980s with help from designers like Vivienne Westwood and Jean Paul Gaultier, who created a pink corset for Madonna.\n- __Mainstream brands__: Along with Wonderbra, one of the best-known lingerie brands in the US is Victoria’s Secret, which launched in the late 1970s. Maidenform entered the market in the mid-1990s. \n- __Comfort first__: Although bralettes have existed for years, the underwire-free bras (soft cups) have seen a recent increase in popularity with the rise of loungewear.\nThe best bra for an individual depends on their lifestyle and personal style. Regardless of style preference, meeting with a professional can help you learn about proper bra size, which may change over time as you age or your bust size or body changes.\n\n1. __Backless bra__: Unlike stick-on bras, backless bras provide support with straps and a full band, but the band wraps lower around the body so that it remains unseen with backless dresses. \n2. __Balconette bra__: Named for its "balcony" shape, these bras have wide-set straps that connect near the far edge of the bra cup. They work best with wider necklines. \n3. __Bandeau bra or tube bra__: A cross between bralettes and strapless bras. These bras are wireless and strapless, wrapping around the breasts and back. Some have padding you can remove.\n4. __Beginner’s bra or training bra__: Similar to bralettes, these bras are wireless. Typically, young people whose breasts are still developing use these before moving on to other styles of bra. \n5. __Bralette or soft bra__: Unlined and wireless, these bras may have a thicker band for extra support. \n6. __Cage bra__: This design features multiple straps in the back or front, where the cage straps may be visible across the neckline. \n7. __Contour bra__: Contour bras cups contain foam or other types of built-in molding that can help the wearer look more symmetrical.\n8. __Convertible bra or multiway bra__: These bras have adjustable straps that you can move to better hide under whatever you wear. You can change the straps to create regular straight, halter, criss-cross, and strapless shapes. \n9. __Demi cup bra__: Where a plunge bra covers one-third of the breast, demi bras cover one-half of the breast.\n10. __Front-closure bra__: Uses a hook-and-eye for front closure, instead of in the back like other bras.\n11. __Full-figure bra__: Full-coverage bras that those with larger breast sizes might choose. They typically have wider straps and full cups. \n12. __Halter bra__: Much like a halter neck shirt, these bras have a single strap that starts at the top of one cup, wraps around the neck, and connects at the top of the other cup.\n13. __Longline bra__: A bra where the band under the breast is wider and may extend down to the waist. \n14. __Minimizer bra__: Using a great deal of support with full coverage, these bras minimize the look of breasts. \n15. __Nursing bra or maternity bra__: These bras have wider straps for more support, and employ a flap in the cups to allow access for breastfeeding. \n16. __Padded bra__: A bra style that includes padding to comfort and lift the breasts, while also creating a fuller breast shape. \n17. __Plunge bra or low-cut bra__: These bras cover one-third of the breast and have a low neckline. The plunge comes in a variety of shapes, like a U-plunge.\n18. __Push-up bra__: A type of underwire bra that has angular padding to lift the breasts toward one another and emphasize cleavage. \n19. __Racerback bra__: Both sports bras and some wired bras fit the definition of a racerback. In this style, the two straps connect in the middle of the back and then widen again under the shoulder blades, creating an X shape. \n20. __Seamless bra__: These bras blend easily from skin to the start of the bra so that the bra doesn't show under body-hugging clothes. \n21. __Semi-sheer bra__: Semi-sheer have mesh or lace cups. Usually, they do not have any lining. \n22. __Shelf bras__: This built-in bra features an elastic band that goes underneath the bust. Garments like tank tops and camisoles sometimes have shelf bras.\n23. __Sports bra__: These wireless bras come in a variety of shapes. Sports bras minimize movement during physical activity. \n24. __Stick-on bra or adhesive bra__: Strapless and backless, these bras use an adhesive to stick on the breasts and provide support under backless or plunging outfits.\n25. __Strapless bra__: These bras use an underwire and an inner silicone lining to hold them in place since they don't have bra straps. You can wear them with anything, particularly strapless dresses and tube tops. \n26. __T-shirt bra__: T-shirt bras use smooth and seamless cups with an underwire to provide support without changing the silhouette.\n27. __Transparent bra__: A bra featuring clear straps to appear "invisible" if they poke out from under clothing. \n28. __Unlined bra__: This is a bra made without foam or padding and with only one layer of fabric.\nBecome a better fashion designer with the [MasterClass Annual Membership](https://www.masterclass.com). Gain access to exclusive video lessons taught by the world’s best, including Anna Wintour, Laura Kim \u0026 Fernando Garcia, Marc Jacobs, Tan France, Diane von Furstenberg, and more.\nBras provide support and coverage for breasts and come in many styles.