Shoulder straps are the unglorified/unsung heroes of the bra. They have always been an integral part of the design, quietly providing secondary support, an expert at enamor mentions. The origin of bra straps starts with the shift from corsets to brassieres. The early designs of bras were non-padded, wire-free styles that required shoulder straps to hold the fabric on top. Even as brassieres evolved over time to bras to padded and sports bra, shoulder straps continue to be an integral part of a bra design. While straps play a role in providing additional support, their primary importance lies in guiding and ensuring the positioning of the bra is intact for a more comfortable fit.
Mohit Jain, Brand Head, Floret Lingerie when highlighting what the women should check in terms of bra straps mentions, “Women need to be sure of their body type and the kind of bra that suits their body type, As well as the end use for the bra. We usually use high quality straps that are extra buff, this gives additional comfort and rarely ever leaves any kind of impression on the skin. Women should also always ensure they are wearing the right cup size. The cup size of the bra is directly related to the straps. Sometimes when our straps keep falling off despite them being snug, it’s usually because they are wearing the wrong size”.
Designing the right fit
“Our selection for a design completely depends on who the end user is, obviously. If it is a hip trendy user the bra is designed for, we would go for the latest trends, strappy and fun, or luxurious. If it’s a bra specifically designed for daily long time wear, or for plus size women, we would ideally go for wider straps as they put less pressure on the shoulders and neck,” Mohit adds.
A spokesperson at enamor further broke down the idea of straps for us and went on to mention the types available. “Shoulder straps can be differentiated accordingly to their width, orientation, or design. Bra straps come in either thin width or thick width. amanté offers styles with varied bra strap options and they are fabricated with the softest brushed elastics so they feel comfortable on the skin.
Bra straps can be also as below:
- Detachable: Straps that can be separated from the bra.
- Non Detachable with half adjustability: straps are back-adjustable. In front, the strap narrows gradually from the cup to the shoulder with no hardware on the front side.
- Fully adjustable straps: straps that can be adjusted end to end of the bra strap length giving you more flexibility in adjusting the fit or positioning of the bra.
- Convertible straps: these are removable straps that are longer in length and can be manipulated to fit as a racerback or a halter neck style. Additionally, you can always use amanté racerback clips to instantly switch your regular straps to a racerback.
- Transparent straps: these are removable straps that are clear in colour and give the illusion of not being visible over outfits. amanté offers clear transparent straps as a part of their Accessories range that adjustable so you can continue to be versatile in your outfit choices.
Bra straps also vary from style to style. For instance, Balconette bras have straps that sit further out on the bra whereas sports bras come with very thick straps which provide maximum support”.
In to the history
Divya Vijayan, Lingerie / Fashion Designer and consultant takes us back in time to make us understand more on the historic relevance of bra. “Bra- or bikini-like garments are depicted in some female athletes of the Minoan civilization in the 14th century BC. During the time of the Egyptian pharaohs sees the kalarsiris a tube-like garment however, it also shows most women exposing their breast. In the time of the Greek and Roman rule, many painting and images depicts women breasts wrapped across the chest when bathing. Their outer garment known as chitons or stolas were held by bands that were strapped across their breast emphasising the female body. Later, this was simplified into what was the first form of a bra called strophium. By the early 20th century, garments more closely resembling contemporary bras had emerged, although large-scale commercial production did not occur until the 1930s. In India, women exposed their breast very much like in Egypt until the time of King Harshavardhana (1st century AD). Sewn bras and blouses were very much in vogue during the Vijayanagara empire.
Somehow, as time evolved the brassiere to evolved but to date the bra fails to be an important garment to the Indian women as she continues to wear the wrong size, style and type (fabrication). A lot of this has to do with the traditional mind sets and taboo of undergarments in general.
Even though, brand such as Zivame, Clovia, Jockey, Mybra and may more new immerging brand have introduced the right way to wear, choose and purchase these garments. Yet, many Indian women have been miss guided by producers (manufacturers of 120 to 220 Indian rupees bra with cone like shape cups and ridged cottons). These bras suffocate and band the breast, while suppressing and causing extra fats around the breast to hide under armpits or worst still form additional breast which at a later stage in life of the woman appears as spare tyres at the back at her waist.
I recently experience the production of these garment in a factory in Bengaluru where the proprietor of the unit explained that this was their top selling item and that they would never stop production. I then had the realization of why this item which was centuries old yet a big hit in sale in South India when I had the first-hand experience with a sales staff presented these low-cost garment as fast selling and popular product. So, with miss guidance, the consumer buys a product that should have long stop production and removed from the shelves of retail stores and woman’s cupboards, with the right education and understanding to the function of the bra and the importance of the women’s body,” Divya interprets.
Why does it need to be done rightly?
“While bra straps form a small part of the bra design as compared to the cups and bra band, it is important that the right raw materials and width of strap is used depending on style to ensure that it sits comfortably on the shoulder and helps the positioning of the bra. A short or too long strap or extremely thin strap may cause undue pressure on the shoulders and lead to discomfort for the user. This especially important when it comes to sports bras as they need the right elastic stretch, fabric, and width to support the cups and activity while giving the user flexibility in movement.
Bra straps that don’t fit well will exert itself and dig into the skin of the shoulders, and often over prolonged durations of wear, can create deep furrows and damage soft tissues at the shoulders. This is especially relevant for women with larger breasts,” says the spokesperson from enamor driving the point of a well-constructed bra home.
Decoding the right fit
“Bra straps come in a number of variations. They can be all or part elastic, all or part rigid, wide, narrow, padded, and usually length adjustable. Whatever the style, bra straps are meant to act as stabilizers for the bra. The sizes come from a width of 8mm – 13mm for small cups and can be from 15mm to 20mm for bigger cups.
All straps come with an adjuster to help lengthen the straps to adjust the distance between the cups which hold the breast and the shoulder that supports the breast to hold its shape and position on the woman’s body. The bra and the structure of a bridge have similar principles in design and form. The bridge gets its support from the strong under pillars and are held up by wired ropes that stretches up along the length of the bridge. As on a bra, the underband supports the cups which are held up in place by straps,” Divya further adds.
enamor provides a shoulder cushion pads as a part of its new accessories range. The addition of these shoulder cushion pads may help in decreasing any discomfort and prevent straps from slipping off the shoulders. It is a perfect must have as it solves two problems in one go. At enamor, the brand ensures that they source the best of the best for every little detailing from the sliders to the elastic and seams. It’s the high quality fabrics, raw materials and design expertise that make their bra straps so comfortable with the softest hand feel.
The expert from enamor emphasises that one of the first things to understand is that bra straps should not be holding up the breasts, they are only providing additional support. The band of the bra should do the heavy-lifting.
“It is important for the woman to wear the suitable bra and strap so that it will enhance her shape and give her comfort through the day. If the undergarment is worn incorrectly, especially if the straps aren’t worn correctly the wearer would feel discomfort and she will not have the proper support she needs from the garment. This will result in poor appearance of the wearer outwardly and in the long run cause disproportion of her appearance such as drooping breast, extra fats around her armpits and drooping shoulders,” Divya further clarifies and then she illustrates further to explain how varied straps can offer varied fit.
- Image A shows the bra straps exposed from her outerwear
- Image B is a better solution for the wearer and more appropriate for this style of outerwear
- Image C shows the straps are too tight and causing it to press on the shoulders which is painful if worn so every day and also cause the wearer long hours of discomfort.
- Image D shows after adjusting the bra the wearer should be able to put one finger between her strap and lift half inches above to show it is well adjusted and comfortable.
- Image E shows the importance to adjust the straps so breasts (cups) are parallel to the back band. The straps should be adjusted after every wash and when worn.
- Image F unadjusted bra causing slippage