During the GBSB 2021, the science of support was a surprisingly helpful in understanding how support is built into bras and bralettes. Monica O’Rourke Bravo of Bravo Bellas gave a presentation detailing how bralettes derive support.
The band is one of (if not the most) important aspects in determining support. Below are a few aspects that need to be paid attention to.
Location of elastic
Monica was sure to emphasize the importance of bottom band elastic placement. If the elastic is too low, the chest will want to fall out of the bottom with any movement. Therefore, the elastic should sit right on the under bust. This provides direct support to hold everything up.
Type of elastic
Once you have the band in the right place, the type of elastic will determine the band’s effectiveness. A dainty, soft elastic will be almost useless, as it will provide little support. The recommended elastic is something firm, such as regular picot or the same type one would use in a regular bra.
Now that the elastic is in, you have to decide how the bralette will be put on. The main choices are pull over the head, or hook and eye. Given the fact that the band needs to be tight, putting over the head is a bad option for support. This will require the elastic to either be looser elastic or placed somewhere other than the underbust, which we already explained why those aren’t good options. Overall, hook and eyes are the best options for support.
More construction support
Along with the band, there are additional foundational aspects of the bralette that have the most affect on the support. The most supportive bralette’s tend to include:
- CF seam
- Cup separate from band
- Side seam
- Underwire channeling
Like the list says, including CF seams and side seams increases support. Furthermore, seams in general typically mean better support. It gives a place for the fabric to come together to stabilize itself. If additional support is desired, topstitch the seam with twill tape.
Separate cup from band
This provides the same function as adding a seam. Separating the cup from the band gives a firm separation line so breast tissue won’t migrate elsewhere.
Although not using wires, underwire channeling can provide further support to keep everything where it should be. This stabilizes the seam the same way twill tape would.
Once it is determined the best supportive methods, there are likely going to be alterations that still need to be made.
To measure the breast root, hold hands at the sides of the breast root. Have someone else measure the projection of the breast. This will give you an idea of how wide the cup curve will be on the flat pattern.
Removing width and adding projection
To increase support, narrowing the band and increasing projection can increase support. This encases the breast at the root, and gives the tissue adequate room. Monica advises to add back half the length taken out of the width back to the projection.
The type of fabric matters quite a bit when deciding support for a bralette. If it’s too firm, it will be rigid and uncomfortable; too flexible and there will be no support whatsoever. Some options the instructor gave were:
- Use firm powernet for the back band
- Line cups with lightweight powernet
- Stabilize the cradle with fabric with no stretch or firm-weight powernet