By Ivy Morris

When Frederick's of Hollywood's first-ever push-up bra busted onto the lingerie scene in 1948, it changed the brassiere business forever. The push-up bra gave ladies of all bust sizes a way to reveal more cleavage, especially in low-cut necklines. In 1994, The Wonderbra, an updated design of the push-up bra, once again sent push-up bras flying off shelves. Today, this innovative lingerie remains a staple in women's wardrobes, providing "the girls" with that extra lift for special occasions.

woman'a hands in a supermarket
credit: Pilin_Petunyia/iStock/Getty Images
Underwires and padding are key features of most push-up bras.

Designed for Lift

With its firm underwire support and specially designed cups, a push-up bra works to lift the breasts. However, notable bra-fit expert Susan Nethero says in her book "Bra Talk" that push-up bras actually don't work much differently from "regular" bras, noting that all well-designed bras should lift the breasts. Regardless, push-up bras also have padded cups to provide more center cleavage; this additional volume typically gives the appearance of lift. The padding is often sewn into the bra's cups, but some versions are filled with gel for a more a natural look. Removable padding also helps push-up bras give breasts a boost. Removable padding is usually in the form of soft fabric "cookies" or gel "cutlets."