Currently, a highly debated fashion practice for women is bra straps. Is it acceptable to let them show? I’m going to take many by surprise when I say, “Yes, it’s absolutely ok to let them show!”
Now, before I get too many traditionalists upset, allow me to explain. Ladies, the straps are kinda important! Wasn’t it Newton who said things tend to fall downward?
No really, I started wondering about the history of the bra, referred to as brassieres until the middle 1900’s. Interestingly, its evolution is inextricably intertwined with the social history and status of women, having much to do with the progression of fashion and views of the body.
Prior to the 1500’s many ancient civilizations left breasts exposed. It was during the Renaissance period that corsets gained great popularity, lasting through the 1800’s. An emphasis on unrealistic waist sizes and perky breasts emerged. So much that upper class women gave their babies to nurse maids, as breastfeeding was considered stressful to the female figure.
Ultimately, the first evolution of the bra arrived when health professionals grew concerned with the cruelly constraining affects of the corset. In addition, the feminists clothing reform movement helped free women, insisting we needed comfort and support as we took an active role in society.
Bare with me as I’m getting to the point, this really does have everything to do with bra straps!
Herminie Cadolle of France invented the modern bra. Her description to the patent office read, “Designed to sustain the bosom and supported by shoulders.” Advertising for the new brassiere stressed advantages of bras over corsets, portraying the new garments with “shoulder supports.” I believe today we call these bra straps!
Well, clothing kept trending. Though the bra and its straps were dearly embraced, fashion loves skin. Styles have become more revealing, and so was born the strapless bra. Shoulder revealing trends include strapless, spaghetti straps, off the shoulder, one shoulder, cold shoulder, tube tops, tank tops, the list goes on.
There’s one thing on which men and women agree, ladies’ shoulders are sexy! And so fashion giveth us bra straps, and then taketh away.
Here’s a question. How many women actually find a strapless bra that truly offers lift and shape, or even stays in place? I guess in order to flirt with a naked shoulder, women must suffer the effects of gravity, repeatedly and publicly adjusting ourselves. Myself and most women I’ve asked buy strapless bras a size smaller. I personally purchase a 32 when I really wear a 34. Although uncomfortable, I’m hoping is it will hold in place. Isn’t this starting to sound like the corset, are we moving backwards?
The shelf bra was a kind invention, but it too offers little lift and shape. And have you noticed the last year or so you can hardly find them? They seem to have lost popularity around the time straps starting popping up (and out) everywhere, which I believe is the second evolution of the bra. The first was when women were freed from corsetry. Now, over 100 years later, women are finally permitted to expose the essential function that is the bra strap.
As relieving as the grant to flash both shoulder and bra strap may be, it does present another issue. Where can we find bras with attractive straps? There is a place and all you need is a convertible bra (or just convert your existing bra). Bra Straps by Exposed Envy is an online store offering over 100 different styles of designer bra straps. The idea is simple. Women get the support needed while preserving fashion sense.
Olympia Dukakas said it best in Steele Magnolia’s, “The only thing separating us from the animals is our ability to accessorize.”
I hope I’ve made some a little more comfortable with the great bra strap debate. My wish is to give my fellow females the solution they’ve needed to keep up with fashion, and the presentation they desire to keep their dignity. The beauty and class of elegant bra straps is just another “perk.”
Kelly Carroll is a fashion-conscious single mother based in St. Louis, Missouri. It’s her commitment to God, family, community, herself and fellow females which have both inspired and driven her to create Exposed Envy.
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