A brassiere, commonly referred to as a bra, is an undergarment that covers, supports, and elevates the breasts.
Manufacturers produce an extremely wide variety of bras today that serve a variety of purposes. Bras can enhance the perceived shape of a woman’s breasts, minimize or enlarge her perceived breast size, restrain breast movement during an activity such as exercise, enhance her cleavage, conceal her nipples, overcome sagging, serve prosthetic purposes, or facilitate nursing.
In certain circumstances, like the work place, employers may require a woman to wear a bra. In most Western countries, the majority of women wear bras, although a minority chooses to go without, sometimes for health or comfort reasons. Breast support is built into some garments like camisoles, tank-tops and backless dresses, alleviating the need to wear a separate bra.
Manufacturers’ standards and sizes vary widely, making it difficult for women to find a bra that fits. Bra-measurement procedures conflict with one another. Even professional bra fitters disagree on the correct size for the same woman. Women’s breasts vary widely in size and shape; most are asymmetric to a degree and can change from month to month depending on the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or weight gain or loss. As a result, from 75–85% of women wear the incorrect bra size.
The bra has become a garment with erotic significance and a feminine icon or symbol with political and cultural significance beyond its primary function. Some feminists consider the brassiere a symbol of the repression of women’s bodies. Culturally, when a young girl gets her first bra, it may be seen as a rite of passage and symbolic of her coming of age.
So why do women wear a bra?
“Because breasts need to be supported.”
“Because I feel immoral or indecent without bras.”
“Because everybody does so, or in other words the unspoken rules of society so dictate.”
“I need to wear bras for my job since it’s the dress code.”
“To hide nipples that poke through clothing.”
“Because I hate the thought of my breasts sagging so much.”
Discomform from sweat and ‘slapping’
“Because I want to give the illusion of a larger breast size.”
“Because they jump up and down while I exercise and do sports.”
Most bras are designed to be form-fitting, to lift the breasts off the chest wall if they sag, and to restrain their movement. Bra designers and manufacturers originally produced bras that were purely functional and gradually added elements to improve the design, but they have now largely shifted from functionality to fashion.
And in the process, bra designers try to outdo each other to come up with shockingly expensive bras that may not serve the original purpose that bras were designed for. Take at a look at some of the most expensive bras in the world:
Molly Sims Bra ($20 million)
The world’s most expensive bra was designed by Susan Rosen and was worn by American actress Molly Sims in 2006 for the first time. The bikini is made up of 150 carats of diamonds—including a pair of fifteen carat, round-cut diamonds; a thirty carat, emerald-cut diamond and a pear-shaped, fifty-one carat diamond. The swimsuit was made of platinum.
Red Hot Fantasy Bra & Panty ($15 million)
The underwear was made with 1,300 precious stones, including 300 carats of Thai rubies, on red satin. The appearance of the set was kept secret until the grand opening of Manhattan’s new Victoria’s Secret store on Broadway and 67th Street. It was then modeled by Victoria’s Secret’s own Gisele Bundchen. This $ 15,000,000 creation breaks the Guiness Book of Record as one of the most expensive lingerie pieces ever created.
Sexy Splendor Fantasy Bra ($ 12.5 million)
The bra features 2,900 pave-set diamonds along with 22 ruby gemstones and a 101 karat flawless pear-shaped diamond. The stones are set in 18K white gold. It took over 300 hours to create. It was worn by Gisele Bundchen on the runway where they layered it with a red bra.
Heavenly Star Bra ($12.5 million)
Studded with 1,200 Sri Lankan pink sapphires, this bra features a 90-carat emerald cut diamond as its centerpiece. That diamond alone, in fact, is worth $10.6 million. For an additional $750,000, one could even purchase a pair of matching briefs. Apparently over 275 hours of labor went into the bra.
Very Sexy Fantasy Bra ($11 million)
A 370-hour Mouawad creation, the Victoria Secret s Very Sexy Fantasy bra was designed in 2003 and presented in a fashion show for the first time by German American supermodel Heidi Klum in 2003. It trumped the Star of Victoria with its 70-carat Mouawad Excelsior diamond. Heidi needed to layer it with red bra and thong to tone the sexiness down on the runway.
Star of Victoria Fantasy Bra ($10 million)
This bra, made with 1,150 ruby roses and 1,600 emerald leaves, was created by Mouawad in 2002. It took over 370 hours of work to make and featured the 60-carat Mouawad Mondera diamond. Karolina Kurkova wore this $ 10,000,000 bra in 2002,
Millenium Bra ($10 million)
The $ 10,000,000 diamond encrusted bra, worn by Heidi Klum, features star shape diamonds.
Heavenly 70s Fantasy Bra ($10 million)
This bra was modeled by Tyra Banks in 2004. Featuring 2,900 diamonds set in 10kt white gold, this Victoria’s Secret offering had a centerpiece of its own—a flawless 70-carat pear-shaped diamond. The bra was designed by jeweler Mouawad.
Hearts on Fire Diamond Fantasy Bra ($6.5 million)
This bra comprises of over 2,000 diamonds with a 10-carat diamond brooch centerpiece. It was modeled by Karolina Kurkova.
Dream Angel Fantasy Bra ($5 million)
The lucky lady who wore this bra was Czech supermodel, Daniela Pestova.
Black Diamond Fantasy Miracle Bra ($5 million)
Modeled by Brazil’s Adriana Lima, the bra features 3,575 black diamonds (two of which weight 100 carats each), 117 certified one-carat white round diamonds and thirty-four rubies. The bra was designed to maximize the wearer’s cleavage, an effect enhanced by the two 50-carat black diamonds dangling from the center. The bra was created by celebrity jeweler Martin Katz and cost just over $5 million to make.
Holiday Fantasy Bra ($4.5 million)
Selita Ebanks looked like a very expensive Christmas wearing this $ 4,500,000 bra comprised of diamonds, rubies, emeralds and yellow sapphires by jeweler Mouawad. Selita said “It hurt. Yeah, diamonds hurt, I don’t know about wearing diamonds on your crotch. It’s like you’re walking and scraping. This is not cohesive to get a man. No man wants a scratchy vagina.”
Diamond Dream Bra ($3 million)
Tyra Banks wore this $ 3,000,000 white diamond bra.
Harlequin Fantasy Bra ($3 million)
Victoria’s Secret unveiled the Harlequin Fantasy Bra in 2009, which was valued at $3 million. Marissa Miller modeled the bra, which was covered in 2,300 Damiani “white, champagne, and cognac-colored diamonds,” and a 16-carat diamond pendant.
Fantasy Treasure Bra ($2.5 million)
Victoria’s Secret’s extravagant Fantasy Collection produced a $2.5 million bra in 2011, which new mom and model Miranda Kerr had the honor of modeling in 2011. The hand-made, aqua-colored Fantasy Treasure push-up piece—a collaboration with Long Island’s London Jewelers—includes almost 3,400 precious stones. It boasts 142 carats of white and yellow diamonds, pearls, citrines, and aquamarines, all of which are set in 18-karat white and yellow gold.
Adriana Lima’s Miraculous Bra ($2 million)
Adriana Lima unveiled the $2 million Victoria Secret s Miraculous Bra in 2010. The bra is made of up of 3,000 white brilliant cut diamonds, 82 carats of light blue sapphire and topaz stones, all set in 18 karat white gold. The bra took six Damiani craftsmen 1500 hours of full-time labor to complete
Million Dollar Miracle Bra ($1 million)
This was the first time Victoria’s Secret ever came up with the diamond bra concept. It was worn by German supermodel Claudia Schiffer on the photoshoot.
Korea’s Gold Bra (Over $1.0 million)
Korea entered the competitive international lingerie marketplace with a bra that debuted in Seoul. Designed by a company called Korea’s Golden Zone, the million-dollar bra consists of liquid gold cups and diamond-encrusted straps.