You are using an out of date browser. It may not display this or other websites correctly. You should upgrade or use an alternative browser.
A bra (), short for brassiere (, UK or ), is a form-fitting undergarment designed to support or cover the wearer's breasts. Bras are designed for a variety of purposes, including enhancing a woman's breast size, creating cleavage, or for other aesthetic, fashion or more practical considerations. Swimsuits, camisoles, and backless dresses may have built-in breast support. Nursing bras are designed to facilitate breast-feeding. Some women have a medical and surgical need for brassieres, but most women wear them for fashion or cultural reasons. There is no evidence that bras actually prevent breasts from sagging.
Bras have gained importance beyond their mere functionality as a garment. Women's choices about what kind of bra to wear are consciously and unconsciously affected by social perceptions of the ideal female body shape, which changes over time. Bras have become a fashion item and cultural statement that are sometimes purposefully revealed by the wearer or even worn as outerwear.
Bras are complex garments made of many parts. Manufacturing standards assume idealized, standard breast shapes and sizes that don't match some women's bodies. Companies use vanity sizes to influence women to purchase sizes that give the impression they are slimmer or more buxom. In addition, international manufacturing standards and measurement methods vary widely, resulting in up to 85 per cent of women wearing the wrong size.Some women have protested societal expectations and sometimes school and workplace dress codes that require women to wear support garments. As early as 1873, author Elizabeth Stuart Phelps advocated that women burn their corsets. This was echoed in 1968 at the protest during the Miss America Pageant when women symbolically threw a number of feminine products into a large trash can. A reporter conflated their protest with Vietnam-era men who burned their draft cards, creating the trope of bra-burning feminists.