While our breasts are private parts, hidden under clothes all day long, they have a strong effect on how we're viewed by the world. The size and shape of breasts make a difference in how our clothes fit, how our bodies feel, and how we feel about ourselves.
Body type trends fluctuate a great deal. In the 1920's, flat-chested flapper girls were the bee's knees, while in the 1950's bodacious curves were the stuff pin-ups were made of. We're lucky to live in a time that celebrates bodies of all shapes and sizes, one in which women have many options for playing up their favorite features.
Push- up bras have been part of the Western woman's wardrobe for four decades. While bra styles had been evolving toward a more supportive and structured look since the 1930's, a true push-up didn't come along until Canadian Louise Poirier unveiled the WonderBra in 1964. It was designed to add lift and shape under dresses and sweaters.
Today, just about every major lingerie brand has its own version of the Wonder Bra, each promising to give you the cleavage of your dreams along with sexy style and ultimate comfort. It can be difficult to decide which push-up bra would be best for you, especially when they all look so similar.
There are a couple of common myths that should be busted (no pun intended) before deciding whether to consider a push-up bra.
The first is that push-up bras are only for smaller-breasted women. This isn't necessarily true. Larger breasted women can benefit from the increased support and lifting action a push-up bra provides, although they don't need one with lots of padding.
Another myth is that smaller-breasted women who wear push-up bras are somehow ashamed of their bodies and want to fake a bustier bosom. Plenty of small-breasted women are very proud of their natural shape, and are happy to wear regular bras or even go braless. However, they might want to wear push-ups on occasions when they want a certain shape under clothing, or when they just feel like wearing one!
Let's Go Bra Shopping!
Before going shopping for a push-up bra, know your bra size. Reports claim that around 80% of women are wearing the wrong size bra. Ill-fitting bras won't provide you with the comfort, support, or breast enhancement you want. You can learn more about bra sizing by searching online resources or speaking with a knowledgeable lingerie consultant. Once you know your size, you'll be ready to find a push-up bra that works for you.
Wonder Bra is the original push-up bra, and it's still creating innovative and sexy designs for every shape and occasion. Some standouts from this brand: The super-smooth Full of Wonder T-shirt Bra ($34) is made to fill out your form when worn under casual clothes. It sports a cute girly design accentuated with miniature bows and thin straps. The Commitment-Phobe bra ($34) isn't calling you out on your relationship habits; it's offering you the alternative to go strapless with ultra-convenient detachable straps. It's great for occasions that call for a slinky halter or bare-shoulder dress.
Maidenform's Feeling Sexy Ultimate Gel Push Up Bra ($22-$34) offers soft, gel-filled cups for natural-looking bust enhancement. It's comfortable, affordable, and practical. While it isn't a bra for someone interested in the extreme cleavage effect, it does a great job adding fullness to your form.
What would a discussion about push-up bras be without a nod to Victoria's Secret? They encourage women to unleash their inner vixen with products like the new V-Plunge Push-up ($52), a bra that begs to be worn with your most daring necklines. It features a deep-plunge shape and structured cups that lift and beautifully enhance the bust line. While reviews of this and other products from Victoria's Secret are generally positive, the cost of the products seems to be a concern to buyers. Many feel they could have gotten a similar bra for a lower price. However, Victoria's Secret does offer a huge selection, and the shopping experience can be crazy fun, so you might want to check it out if you can afford the splurge.
The Soiree Extreme Push Up Bra from Lily Of France ($30) adds a lot to your shape without taking too much from your wallet. The European-inspired look is sleek and provocative with a satiny tone-on-tone finish and flattering demi cups. The design converts to a halter style, so it can be worn with more of your favorite outfits. Like many low-to-mid priced push-up bras, this one enhances your bust with traditional cotton pads rather than the gel pads used by more expensive brands, but it does the job quite nicely.
Petite women have added challenges in finding the right bra. The average department store bra might not provide a snug and comfortable fit for those with smaller shoulders and chest widths. Wacoal Women's B0012J074 ($48) is specially designed to enhance the petite woman's figure. This bra is very versatile. The removable pads allow it to be worn as a regular or push-up bra and it can be turned into a strapless, a back criss-cross or a front V-strap. This model costs nearly as much as Victoria's secret bras, but it is made to provide the ultimate fit, and users say it delivers. While Wacoal bras don't have a particularly flirtatious image, they offer luxurious comfort, which any woman will tell you is pretty sexy in itself.
If you're in the mood for lingerie that creates a classic, sexy, boudoir vibe, try the Jezebel Women's Retro Glam Plunge Push Up ($28). The well-designed, contoured cups will give you nice lift and definition, while the seamless style offers a smooth look under clothes. Choose either black or fuchsia, both with black lace trim.
While the name Calvin Klein usually calls to mind images of hot male models in tiny underwear, the designer makes lingerie for us ladies too. The Envy Air Push Up Bra ($48) is a low-coverage, delicate push up bra that enhances with a unique air push-up design. The style is understated, urban and hip. It's great if you want subtle lift under business or casual attire.