Do you remember the first time you wore a bra? In our late teens, having your first underwear is an exciting moment. It leaves you feeling suddenly sophisticated for the first time, and our first experiences with lingerie are likely to stay with us as the years pass.
When we are young, we need maximum support as our bodies change and develop, and through our teenage years to early twenties, underwear is much more about functionality and support than the way we look. Over the past few years, the market for 15-25 year olds lingerie sales has grown by over six percent, showing increasing concern with the way we look inside, as well as out.
By the time we reach our twenties, underwear becomes all about expressing our personalities. We look for fun, flirty and fabulous fashions that reflect who we are and what we do. As our bodies change, so do our views on underwear, as we experiment with new styles, trying out G-strings, padding, boxer shorts and tankinis as well as traditional two-sets. Women in their twenties tend to favour styles which are fashionable, colourful and fun.
The next decade sees most of us change our priorities. With many women having children in their thirties, the bra we choose has as much of a bearing on practicality as it does on looks. While we are developing a true identity in terms of our dress sense and style, life means it isn’t always possible to let that identity spill over in to our underwear drawer – we are as likely to buy seven types of bra all the same, for example, as we find ones that are functional and comfortable, as indulge in frothy lace numbers or sexy camisoles and basques.
However, when we reach our forties and fifties, everything changes again. Our underwear is all about us – who we are, what we want to be, and how we can feel fabulous. No longer restricted by our changing figures, we are comfortable with who we have become and have an innate sense of style which has been developed and honed over the years, leaving us confident, self-assured and completely comfortable in our own skin.
For many women, this is the point that we become truly liberated with the types of underwear we can choose – we know what works and what doesn’t, and we can have a fabulous time trying out new fashions and styles in different colours, shapes and materials. Whether we opt for a plunge bra to flatter a skimming dress, or a t-shirt bra for under casual clothing, we have a real sense of how our lingerie has a bearing on our personalities and mood. Research shows that the market for lingerie sales for women between fifty and sixty years old has grown by over ten percent in recent years2, because we are becoming increasingly sophisticated, understanding the importance of a great underwear product to boost our confidence. Style, quality and comfort are all key factors for our generation.
Despite the starring role underwear has in the life of every woman, statistics show that up to eighty-five percent of us are wearing the wrong sized bra at any given time. When you think of the significance of our underwear in our everyday lives, this is a surprising fact. As we get a little older, we need strong silhouettes, great support and a comfortable fit, meaning that it’s more important than ever before to go for a fitting and make sure you buy underwear from a reputable brand which you can trust. Our breasts change size and shape because of factors such as weight gain or loss, menstruation or pregnancy, and this means we may need more than one size each month to get the best fit.
By Jessica Fowler, who is currently conducting research into support bras for women.