Your Bra – A Quick History of Brassiere Fashion and Design

There is no doubt that the bra is considered an essential undergarment for women, but how many actually know how bras came about? Bras actually have a rather fascinating history.

Support Before the Brassiere

Before brassieres were invented, women still had ways to support their breasts. 

Dating all the way back to ancient Greece, women found ways to wrap fabric bands around their busts and secure them either by a simply tying process or by pinning it up at the back.

In the 16th century, however, France developed corsets to achieve the standard of the feminine figure at the time: the appearance of an inverted cone. 

The stiff shape of the corset involved sewing a whalebone into the corset casing. That certainly does not sound comfortable!

Handkerchief Patent

Believe it or not, the first bra was actually worn to a dance party! 

Satisfied with how comfortable the new undergarment she invented felt, Mary Phelps Jacob demonstrated her design inside dressing rooms during gatherings and events in Manhattan.

 Later, Jacob would create more bra models for her friends – this time with an elastic band. On 3 Nov. 1914, Jacob received a patent for what would turn out to be the basic design for the modern bra.

Her patented design was simple: two handkerchiefs and a little pink ribbon were attached to form a “Backless Brassiere.” Soon, Jacob sold her patent to the Warner Brothers Corset Company.

So Long Corsets

Along with the rise and fall of the first World War, the popularity of corsets also decreased. Women joined workforces, where corsets were considered outright impractical and even awkward.

 Corsets no longer seemed appropriate, in large part due to the demand for metal by the U.S.

War Industries Board. 

The 28,000 tons of metal required by the corset manufacturing industry was deemed better suited for building battleships.

Hello Cup Sizes

By the 1920s, cup sizes were introduced so that bras can fit women of different breast sizes. Ida Rosenthal and her husband William founded Maidenform as a collaboration with Enid Bissett to make this happen. 

In 1932, cup sizes took on a developed system; women’s breast sizes were correlated with letters ranging from A to D, and with this new system, the bra also has several improvements.

 Adjustable bands and eye hooks were added to the new design for better fit and comfort.

Feminine Bra Designs

As designs developed, bras started focusing on the feminine features and beauty of a woman’s breasts. 

Cleavage started to get more love, and bigger bust appearances were welcomed with the Wonderbra designed by a Canadian lingerie company.

By the latter portion of the 1900s, sports bras, elaborate bra designs from Victoria’s Secret and bejewelled lingerie captured attention all around the world as the showbiz industry got bolder with its lingerie designs during concerts, catwalks and other similar occasions.

Modern Designs

Modern bra designs now include many more sizes as compared to the initial A to D cup sizes. 

Bra designs are a lot more focused on the comfort factor than anything else, to the point where even memory foam bras, anti-wrinkle bras and many other interesting bra designs are marketed around the world.

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