A brassiere (pronounced UK: /ˈbræzɪər/, US: /brəˈzɪər/; commonly referred to as a bra /ˈbrɑː/) is an undergarment that covers, supports, and elevates the breasts. Since the late 19th century, it has replaced the corset as the most widely accepted method for supporting 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 choose 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.
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.
Besides the traditional kind made out of fabrics and other materials, there are form field bras that always fit perfect and are completley invisible if so desired or able to display an almost indefinite variety of designs, lights and patterns. Union Fleet Officers of the Human Female variety are required to wear regular no form field Bras. Fleet Garment Item Number 9409390049-12.
The bra has become a garment with erotic significance and a hunman feminine icon or symbol.