What You Need to Know About Push-Up Bras
- Push-up bras were actually first conceived back in 1948 by a man named Fredrick Mellinger. His bra, known as the "Rising Star", was a padded bra made to add a little lift to the breasts. Not only did his bra (and all push-up bras) help to improve breast support, but they enhance the appearance of cleavage.
- Push-up bras are considered the "cheap alternative to breast enlargement surgery". They can perk up your breasts without the need for surgical enhancement.
- Not only should women with smaller breasts sconsider push-up bras. In fact, ALL women, even those with larger breast cup sizes, can benefit from the extra lift and support offered by a push-up bra (see below for more details).
- Push-up bras have been scientifically proven to boost your confidence. A study from the University of Manchester found that wearing a push-up bra increases a women's tendency to smile (a marker of confidence) by 73%. Breaking eye contact decreased 41%, and self-comforting movements decreased by 64%. Overall, women are more confident when they wear a push-up bra.
How Push-Up Bras Work
The design of a push-up bra is fairly simple: an underwire offers support (and, sadly, not a lot of comfort), while the specially designed and padded cups push the breast tissue upward. This gives the appearance of a fuller cleavage, especially when combined with the extra padding in the cups. The padding creates a more central cleavage, and the lift makes the breasts look perkier. The gel cutlets or fabric "cookies" built into the cup push the breasts together and upward. The result: better cleavage and excellent lift for your breasts.
Who Should Wear Push-Up Bras
When you think of a push-up bra, no doubt your mind immediately makes the connection between "extra lift and padding" and "smaller breasts". While many smaller-chested women do wear push-up bras to add extra volume and lift to their cleavage, the truth is that ANYONE can wear push-up bras.
Remember: not all push-up bras are designed to add cup sizes. Some push-up bras are simply intended to compress loose or drooping breast tissue, adding a bit of lift to women with heavier breast tissue that tends to sag. Women with soft breast tissue may find that there is extra volume provided by the padding built into the bra, regardless of breast size.
Push-up bras are also great for wearing beneath low cut tops, such as deep V-necks or plunges. They help to improve the appearance of the cleavage, drawing more attention to the deep necklines. However, they can also be worn beneath high-collar shirts or even sweaters. Their true purpose is simply to lift, reinforce, and amplify your breasts' appearance.
So in short, who should wear push-up bras? Everyone!
Push-up bras can suit a wide range of purposes—from increasing the cup sizes of smaller breasts to supporting and firming up heavier breasts. It's all about finding the right style and size to match your unique proportions and needs.
Types of Push-Up Bras
As you well know, bra shopping can be a complex activity. With so many bras to choose from, you may find yourself overwhelmed with options.
Thankfully, push-up bras don't come in as many styles as other bras, but each style serves its own unique purpose.
Molded push-up bras are the most common style of push-up bra. They add the lift of a push-up bra while shaping the breasts into a rounded cleavage shape. They are ideal to wear beneath T-shirts, sweaters, and dresses.
Non-molded push-up bras are less commonly used for push-up bras, as the softer non-molded cup is made using thinner material and thus doesn't offer the same degree of shaping and support. However, they tend to be more comfortable than molded bras. On the downside, if the bra isn't sized right, your breasts may not sit perfectly flush in the soft cup, leading to visible bulging or bra lines.
Adjustable cleavage push-up bras come with special strings or clips between the bra cups. This allows you to manually adjust the lift created by the bra, customizing the visibility of the cleavage. They're versatile and can be worn with a broad selection of outfits, everything from revealing to professional.
Petite push-up bras are designed for women with smaller breasts (A cups, predominantly). The bras not only come with added lift and support, but usually extra padding to increase volume.
Full push-up bras are designed for women with larger breasts (C cup and above). They are intended to accommodate fuller, heavier breasts, providing adequate support while still enhancing fullness and lift.
Wire-free push-up bras can be either molded or non-molded, with the one unique feature being that they DON'T have an underwire. They tend to offer less lift and support than wired bras, but are far more comfortable.
Removable push-ups bras are either regular or push-up bras that have removable padding. Some have multiple layers of padding (cutlets or cookies) that you can remove to adjust the amount of lift and support. They are much more customizable, making them ideal for women whose bust sizes fluctuate during their menstrual cycle.
Double padded push-up bras come with extra inner and outer padding built in, helping to increase cup sizes by as much as two cups. Women who have naturally small breasts or who want to look more full-chested to fill out a dress or top will find this a suitable choice. Women with larger breasts should avoid the extra padding, however.
Demi cup push-up bras use a cup that covers two-thirds of the breasts rather than three-quarters, and the style pushes the breasts up and inward slightly to create centered cleavage. They're ideal for women that dislike underwired bras, as they come with a shorter underwire less likely to cause discomfort.
Sports push-up bras combine the lift of a push-up bra with the firm hold and support of a sports bra. They're the ideal solution to wear at the gym to turn all eyes your way.
Deep plunge push-up bras are designed to be worn with dresses that have a steeply plunging neckline. The deep plunging cut of the bra adds lift and support without being visible beneath the deep plunging neckline.
Strapless push-up bras utilize a strapless design while still offering the lift and support needed for the push-up style. They typically come in a balcony cut, and though they're most suited for petite breasts, there are some strapless push-up bras designed for fuller busts.
Push-Up Bra Sizing and Buying Tips
Finding the right bra style and size is no joke! Women can go their entire lives wearing the wrong bra. Knowing how to find your proper bra size is an important part of the shopping process, whether you're in the market for regular or push-up bras.
Why bra size matters: With push-up bras, the wrong size can not only be uncomfortable, but it can look unnatural. If the bra is too small, it could squeeze the breast tissue too tightly and create a double bulge. If the bra is too large, it could make the cup look empty.
The problem is that most women will go through multiple bra sizes in their lives. Teenagers go through multiple bra sizes as their bodies develop. Adult women will also need different bra sizes as they gain weight, lose weight, burn fat, build muscle, and have children. Even menopause can affect bra sizes, meaning older women need to go bra shopping all over again.
Experts recommend: Get fitted every 3-5 years, either professionally or at home. Take your breast measurements to ensure you're wearing the right bra size.
Here is how to find your proper bra size:
Step 1: Measure your bust. Run a tape measure around your chest, directly beneath your breasts. This will give you the band size of your bra. Round up to the nearest even number.
Next, run the tape measure around your chest, on top of your breasts at the fullest part, right over the nipples. Pull the tape snug but not tight. Round up to the nearest even number.
Subtract the band measurement from your bust measurement to determine the cup size.
- ½ inch difference = AA cup
- 1 inch difference = A cup
- 2 inch difference = B cup
- 3 inch difference = C cup
- and so on…
Step 2: Determine the style. Remember that push-up bras come in a lot of different styles, shapes, patterns, colors, strap types, and structures. A few factors to consider include:
- Use: comfort vs. active wear
- Underwire or wireless
- Breast support required
- Padding to enhance breast size vs. simple push-up design for more lift
- Strapless, single-strap, or racerback
Your style of bra should be based on the type of clothes you're going to wear. For example, if you wear a lot of thin cotton T-shirts, you'll want a bra designed specifically for T-shirts. Or, if you wear sports clothes all day long, you'll need a bra designed for active use.
Step 3: Test it before buying. ALWAYS test your bras before buying. It's the only way to be sure it fits—cup, band size, lift, everything.
Be warned: every brand has its own slight variation on cup and band sizes. A 34D by Victoria's Secret may be different from a 34D made by Hopeless Lingerie or Lucy D. That’s why it's so important to try on a bra before buying—you'll be able to find your correct size in each specific brand.
How to Wear a Push-Up Bra
Wearing a push-up bra is slightly different from wearing a regular bra. While regular bras are designed to simply cup and hold your breasts, a push-up bra pushes your breasts upward. If they're not situated properly, you could end up with that unsightly bulge that stands out.
To wear your push-up bra:
- Hook the band first. Put on the bra and hook it in place.
- Lean forward and place your breasts in the bra. This will help to situate your breasts on top of the padding and underwire.
- Straighten and re-adjust. There should be no spillage over the top of the bra. If there is spillage, either your breasts need to be re-situated or the cup size is too small.
- Fix the straps. The straps are intended to sit on your shoulders, and make sure they're lying flat and secure enough to add support without cutting into your skin.
One important piece of advice: don't wear a push-up bra for too long. The tight fit and lift of the bra can become uncomfortable and constricting. Use the push-up bra for no more than a few hours at a time, and give your breasts a break by wearing a regular bra.
The most important thing to remember is that the push-up bra should look natural beneath your shirt or dress. This is why it's vital that you find the right cup size, which will ensure your breasts are properly supported without causing them to bulge outward. Your breasts should match the contour of the bra comfortably, without excess bulging.
For women with larger breasts, consider a push-up bra with lighter, seamless padding for a more natural look.
To keep your push-up bras in good shape, make sure to remove the removable pads before washing. The washing machine can damage or wear out gel cutlets or fabric "cookies" too quickly. Once the push-up bra is clean, make sure to reshape the cups before putting away to ensure they hold their shape in your drawers.