A tube bra is also known as a bandeau or bandeau bra and by definition does not have straps to keep it in place. The garment covers the breasts and either fastens at the back or is made of a stretchy material to slip over the body. Tube bras generally offer light support for the breasts and rarely come with underwire or padding like a strapped bra. Some tube bra garments are very simple, while others are more lacy and ruffled for use as intimate wear. Besides their use as a simple bra, these strapless garments are commonly found in clothing stores in Western countries to be used as sportswear, sleeping garments, and lingerie.
This strapless garment is typically made of a stretchable fabric like cotton. It is essentially a thin tube and is commonly built into tube top garments to provide support for the wearer’s breasts so that she does not have to wear a strapped bra. In fact, a tube bra with a wider tube is called a tube top, and a tube bra with straps is a bra. Likewise, a tube bra with a wider tube and a strap that goes around the neck is called a halter top.
While a tube top bra is commonly used as a simple and strapless bra to provide light support, it is also used as lingerie and sportswear. The construction and appearance of the latter two normally vary quite a bit. Lingerie is often lacy, ruffled, or made of a finer fabric, while sportswear is usually cotton or spandex and designed to provide as much support as tube bras can give. Some people also prefer to sleep in tube or normal bras because they find them more comfortable than sleeping without one, or they believe that doing so will help keep their breasts from sagging later in life.
Bandeaus have existed since the 1920s, when tube bras were simple bras or garments meant to flatten the breasts to give the wearer a more waifish appearance. Eventually, the garment became less popular but came back again in the 1940s as part of a new bikini style. Since then, the term bandeau has largely fallen out of use, replaced with the term tube top. The designs of these tops have become increasingly more elaborate, sometimes incorporating O-rings and twists in the fabric. In historical times and some cultures, garments similar to tube bras usually have another term.