By John Festa aka Johnny Lingerie
The wire-free soft-cup bra constitutes a small percentage of bra sales in the United States, somewhere around 20%. Europe, on the other hand, sees about 40% of sales being soft-cup. Why such a stark difference? Does Europe know something we don’t?
First, let us begin to understand how it is that you now have wire in your underwear.
Howard Hughes is often credited with inventing the underwire bra for his curvaceous muse Jane Russell who starred in his 1943 movie The Outlaws, which he both produced and directed. He felt that the camera was not picking up Jane’s best assets and, being an engineer, designed a bra with wire under each cup that connected to the shoulder strap, thus lifting Russell’s ample bust making for better visuals, so to speak.
But, in fact, the first patent for an underwire-ish bra was in1893 for a metal breastplate with cups and shoulder straps designed by Marie Tucek as a modification to the corset. The more familiar design we use for underwire bras today was first patented in 1931 by Helene Pons. A second patent for an under and over wire bra was issued in 1938 to Pauline Boris. Her invention used wire to completely encircle the breast. I would like to point out that all three of these designs were developed by women, hopefully putting at least a brief respite to the oft-quoted declaration that the devises of torture that bras are were clearly invented by men.
There are many reasons a woman would choose to go wire-free: health, body shape and/or type, ill-fitting underwire history, sports, medical, post-surgery, general comfort, and more. There are also a variety of soft-cup designs, each with their own features. Choose the bra that is designed to best match your goals.
The basic triangle bra can be most adorable but will not offer a fuller-busted woman the support she needs. There are soft-cup bras on the market which mimic the construction of an underwire design, complete with the wire casing channel, but without the wire. This style of bra will offer the same or nearly same support as an underwire because the seaming of the casing sewn to the band offers the same structure. Other things to look for if support is your goal are a firm band, a molded fabric with good return, a side bone and delicate but sturdy shoulder strap.
A good relationship with one of your local lingerie stores is your best bet to finding quality bras that fit. Nothing can replace an experienced fitter’s expertise and market knowledge. A good soft-cup will be a welcome addition to your bra wardrobe.
Remember, you are the gift. Wrap yourself nicely.™