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Women began looking for ways to holster their breasts for ages. The first report of the brassiere was mentioned in a 1907 Vogue article, but the first bra wasn't patented until 1914 when Mary Phelps-Jacobs designed the Caresse Crosby. Warners bought the patent and came out with cup sizes in 1935. The bra has since evolved to include a wide range of options that should be replaced on a regular basis so that you look your best in the latest styles.
Brassieres receive a lot of wear and should be washed on the delicate cycle in cold water and hung on the line to dry. Replace bras when the hooks break off or when the fabric begins to unravel. Elastic wears out after repeated wearing and washing. Replace your bra when it becomes too loose even on the last hook. Many women have more than one bra and will not need to replace each one until it becomes loose and frazzled from wear. Your bras can last for years if you wash them carefully and rotate them with others each week.
When you gain or lose weight, your bust size is affected. You can't keep wearing the same bra when that happens, and really why would you want to? Women lose weight in various places while dieting so keep track of your bra's comfort as you lose weight. If you find the back slides up and the straps fall off your shoulders, you can try to tighten the straps, but eventually will need to replace it. You may even need a smaller cup size after you lose 20 pounds or more. At the same time, when you can see the back of the bra through a knit shirt, it may be time to get rid of that bra and get a bigger size to accommodate weight gain.
Look for a new bra when you begin a new activity. For example, if you start running or jogging, you may find that your old bra allows too much bouncing. Your current bra may chafe under your arms if you suddenly take up a new sport like tennis. Compression bras are ideal for yoga and walking because they hold your breasts in firmly and have wide straps and usually scooped out backs. Encapsulation bras may be preferable if you have large breasts and plan on jogging because they tightly hold each breast individually.
Unless you're a teenager wearing the latest look that shows off the bra straps, don't wear your everyday bra with your evening wear. Instead purchase a new bra for outfits that call for bare shoulders, spaghetti straps or plunging necklines. Fill your lingerie drawer with appropriate bras for each occasion in every color of the rainbow. Try out the adhesive bras that go well under backless dresses or under sheer looks. Pasties are available for the general public to prevent nipple exposure. You can even find bras with wide shoulder pads if your profile needs a little more definition.