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What’s in a Bra: Fabrics Used in Your Bra

Over the years, us gals have had the benefit of a lot of innovation in our bra design. But some of the most awesome innovations have been advances in the fabric that makes up our bras! Things like breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics for sports bras have become standard today, but they’ve really only become popular within the past few years. Other changes in fabrics have made bras more comfortable to wear, and have made us look better in the process!

Lycra, Ladies – Lycra!
Lycra hit the market in 1959, and has remained an unstoppable fabric in bra construction ever since! As you probably already know, Lycra is a stretchy, synthetic spandex fiber that is very popular in bra construction for its exceptional elasticity and increased durability. Before Lycra, bras were typically made out of cotton-based materials; materials that stretched and didn’t wear well, had to be replaced frequently because of the stretch, and weren’t the most flattering to our shapes.

Since Lycra, we’ve enjoyed improvements to comfortable and flexibility for “the girls,” and longer wear and tear combined with increased durability. In response to requests for Lycra that could stand up to machine washing without fraying or fading, Invista, the company responsible for Lycra, created “Lycra Black.” Lycra Black is an elastane fiber whose spun-dyed technology prevents color from fading in the wash. It also helps to reduce the uneven “shiny” effect that sometimes happens when dark Lycra is stretched out.

Many nursing bras now feature a cotton/Lycra blend for comfort and to provide support and flexible cups for nursing mothers

Today’s Lycra can withstand more wear and tear than ever, and is a key component in most bra construction. Lycra has contributed to innovations in nursing bras; the cups are frequently made of a combination of stretch cotton and Lycra to better withstand the changes that breastfeeding women experience as their breasts engorge and deplete. Lycra hasn’t quite made bras “indestructible” yet – but it has helped bra construction come a long way!

Foam molded cup bras retain shape and offer thin, smoothing padding

Foam Padding
Padding in bras used to be made of cloth, which could become hot, weigh down the wearer, and potentially fail to retain its shape. Today’s padding is largely made of foam, which has a ton of benefits over cloth! Foam allows molded cup bras to retain their shape at all times, and maintain a smooth appearance under tops – it’s a key component in t-shirt bras. Foam is also thinner than fiberfill lining; it can still prevent nipple show-through, but without the added bulk of a fabric lining. Finally, many of today’s foam cups are breathable and hypoallergenic, making them much more comfortable to wear!

Moisture-Wicking Fabric

Moisture-wicking fabrics in sports bras keep you cool and dry

One of the biggest fabric innovations to really take off in the past several years has been moisture-wicking fabric in sports bras. Intelligent fabrics, like Coolmax, Double Dry, PlayDry, 02Cool and others – typically pull moisture away from your skin and moves it to the outside of the bra, where it runs off or evaporates. Nearly all the bra companies have their own special patented moisture-wicking fabric – and a special name for it – but it all does pretty much the same thing. Happily, moisture-wicking fabrics are also making their way into everyday bras, making them a lot more comfortable to wear during the hot summer months, or for women who work in warm or humid environments.

These are just a few of the innovations that have made our bras more durable and more comfortable to wear. Join us next week as we look at innovations to underwires, straps and the bra construction process!

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