Sometimes I wonder about the clothes I put on every day - like, why is this t-shirt so comfortable, or how did this dress get so short?
Especially for us ladies, when we have to put on that one extra garment - before all the other garments - for that support we need.
You get where I am going with this, right?
We have gone from the times when the only coverage women had were pieces of cloth over the chest, to 'breast bands', to corsets, to the modern brassiere.
But here's where an age-old debate comes up - are wearing bras with underwire (which supposedly provides better support and shape) better than bralettes?
STARTED AS A HOBBY, GREW WITH THE SUPPORT
It's not widely talked about, but take a look at stores like Cotton On Body and you'll know that bralettes are trending now.
I spoke with one of the founders of local e-commerce lingerie store, Our Bralette Club (OBC), Chow Liying, and she said OBC was set up by a group of five including herself.
And get this - three of them are guys, and all five of them are only in their mid-20s.
The humble founder chuckled and said she doesn't want too much spotlight on the titles because it might take the attention away from the brand, and place unnecessary attention on personal achievements.
She quit her job in May to focus on selling bralettes on Shopee - which was her hobby back then.
Liying's husband and their best friends, fresh out of university, lent her a helping hand because, "Well, what are friends for, right?" she quipped.
Liying started OBC because she had been blogging about bralettes on her Dayre, and that got many girls curious about whether bralettes were a good fit for them.
They were worried that their breasts were either too big or too small.
She said many of them thought they couldn't pull off bralettes unless they had a model figure.
I started to dispel these thoughts and convince girls that no matter their size or shape, they are beautiful enough to pull off bralettes. I mean, lingerie is just there to accentuate your beauty. The real prize is the woman wearing it.
The website's official launch was in March but Liying has been selling on Shopee since December last year.
She revealed that at OBC's peak, they used to sell 400 to 500 bralettes a week. She estimates that they have sold almost 20,000 bralettes or more.
OBC's collections are a mixture of original designs and OEM (original equipment manufacturer) ones. They look forward to carrying more of their own designs but they don't see a reason to deny customers good and affordable designs that are already available out there.
She adds, "However, we do produce our own designs because it's always fun to take feedback from customers and turn them into reality!"
But their biggest achievement, she thinks, is creating a community of women who are supportive of each other, and who remind each other that they are beautiful.
She was heartened to see the numbers grow to about 1,000 users in their closed Facebook group for OBC shoppers. As their customers post photos of them wearing their bralettes, the team screens the content vigourously.
The brand name was inspired by this community of girls.
To the team, it felt like all their customers were sharing their own experience with battling body image issues or their journey to appreciating themselves and their beauty.
It's a huge reason why we named it OUR BRALETTE CLUB, because at its core, we're looking to build a community of like-minded women who know how to appreciate their bodies… a club for women to help themselves and others see how beautiful they already are.
FAQ: WILL WEARING BRALETTES GIVE ME SAGGY BOOBS?
Liying gets this question a lot.
But she's more than happy to answer this age-old query again to help people understand better.
According to her, a lot of research online has proven that more support (i.e. wearing wire bras) does not prevent sagging, and in fact, some research showed that breasts are kept perky because the lack of support (i.e. not wearing bras) "works out" the ligaments and muscles.
She further explained that bralettes have soft cups that adhere to women's natural shape instead of trying to make them look a certain way.
She attributes the negative connotation about support and sag prevention to the idea of how breasts should look like - the round and perky kinds like those of a supermodel's.
Breasts come in all shapes and sizes and there's nothing wrong with any of them.
Bralettes are also great for mothers-to-be.
Nursing bras in the market range from $60 to $80 a pair, while OBC's bralettes are only about a fraction of that, ranging from $13 to $15.
Customers are less daunted to try the bralettes because of that.
On top of that, nursing bras don't always look the most attractive while bralettes "are super fun".
Customers who are not satisfied with the bralettes or find that they are not a good fit can always send them back to OBC for store credits.
Their best-selling "mummy bralettes" as Liying calls it are the HERE FOR YOU and the STAY WITH ME bralettes.
Mothers have also told them that bralettes with extra chest straps in the front like the OBClassic Strappy and the Midi Bralette are "entertaining for teething babies who… um… chew on them when they are carried".
UPCOMING BOOSTS TO THE STORE
Besides OBC's staple of lacy bralettes, paddings, and nipple stickers, I asked her if there will be any more upcoming products or features the team has in mind.
She revealed that they have actually beta-launched their bralette customisation service, and that has already served some happy customers.
At the moment, though, they are trying to streamline the production process to lower the cost for these bespoke bralettes.
For the brides-to-be, a bridal bralette collection is in the works!
Liying admitted that the team has "crazy high standards" for this collection because they want to make the bridal collection beautiful, affordable, and functional.
An astute entrepreneur, she said there are plans for a strapless bralette but a practical design requires "rigourous testing to ensure that they are functional enough".
TURNING A MISTAKE INTO A TOOL OF EMPOWERMENT
She said their first mistake was to only bring in free-sized bralettes and assuming that it would be enough to cater to women of a certain size as they thought bralettes are more "flexi-sized than traditional bras", which worked for a while.
That was until they realised that customers could wear them but it didn't fit them very well.
And you know what they say - the worst thing that can happen to a business is when customers leave you without even telling you what they think.
It was a good lesson learnt which inspired them to come up with the bespoke bralette service because "the only way to respect everyone's bodies is to provide them with the right size they need".
Women need to learn to appreciate their own bodies more. See the beauty they have, instead of trying to put their breasts into a firm cup and moulding them to look a certain way.
Get beautiful bralettes starting from $8.80 from Our Bralette Club here, and follow them on Facebook and Instagram for updates.