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A Revealing History Of The Bra-Since When Did Women Wear Bras To Uplift Their Breasts

Updated on July 12, 2011


Conebra | Source

Your Bra Is Steeped In History

Bras make a woman look and feel sexy. Bra is that favorite piece of undergarment that finds itself in the closet of every woman, in various patterns, colors and fabric. Bras are used to support your breasts, define the curves and enhance your cleavage. Made in different styles to suit the choice of clothing, one can find the right type to accentuate every dress. Today, bras are available to suit a woman's figure at various times of her adult life, teens, young adulthood, pregnancy, menopausal stages,etc. And also according to her need for physical activity such as the sports bra and the bikini for swimming. So, bras come in different sizes and also are made in different cup sizes to accommodate all breast sizes.

So, let us see how the bra has evolved over the years. Did you know that in 2007, the modern bra completed a 100 years in existence?

Bra is actually brassiere. American magazine Vogue first used this word in 1907. The original meaning in French was "support".

The history of the brassiere is closely linked to the status of women down the years. Fashion and changing views of the female body also contributed to the wearing of this garment to cover, uplift and support one's breasts.

The Brassiere Timeline

In ancient Egypt women were bare breasted.

1 st century : Ancient Indian sculptures show bare breasted women, but a form of brassiere was in vogue during the reign of Harshavardana, of the Vijayanagar Empire. Even young girls wore it.

During the Middle Ages, some sort of a cloth binder was used to cover or restrain one's breasts.

7 th century BC: Women athletes were seen using some form of a brassiere to cover and restrain their breasts.

During the reign of Ming dynasty (1368–1644) in China, a form of bodice was used by rich women .

16 th century : Wealthy women wore a corset to enhance their cleavage while squeezing their waist.

19 th century : Experimentation of the undergarment led to the corset being split to accommodate the lower torso separately, the upper part being shaped and suspended from the shoulders.

Early 20 th century : The modern bra-like undergarments made their first appearance.

The 20 th century also heralded the woman's bra as a fashion statement rather than a functional undergarment.

1859 : Henry Lesher patented the first prototype of a bra. Inflatable pads were a built in feature along with perspiration pads.

1866 : Great Britain saw its first bra made of silk and wire.

1907 : American fashion magazine Vogue uses the word brassiere for the first time.

1910 : The world's first backless brassiere is designed by Mary Phelps Jacob using two silk handkerchiefs, pink ribbon and cord.

1911 : Oxford English Dictionary includes the new word "brassiere".

1917 : Women were asked by the US War Industries Board to stop buying corsets so as to make use of the metal used in making them to build two battleships.

1920s : Slightly shaped bandeau made the brassiere with very little bust definition.

1928 : The modern system of sizing bras by cup sizes and categories were patented by Ida and William Rosenthal.

Early 1930s : Large scale commercial production of a woman's bra came into existence.

1940s : World War II saw highly structured conically pointed bras called Bullet, Torpedo,etc.

1946 : Bikini swimwear was first designed by engineer Louis Reard and named after Bikini Atoll, a nuclear weapons test site. Bathing suits were called bikinis as they were sure to cause excitement like the bomb.

1948 : The first Pushup bra was designed by Frederick Mellinger and called the Rising Star.

1949 : The biggest seller of the 1950s called the bullet bra was manufactured by Maidenform.

1964 : Wonderbra pushup plunge bra was designed by Louise Poirier.

1977 : Two jock straps were sewn together to create a jogbra (the world's first sports bra). This was the creation of Hinda Miller and Lisa Lindahl.

2007 : The modern bra completes a hundred years in existence-both as a functional women's undergarment and fashion statement.

You will agree with me that today because of all the experimentation down the ages you and I get to wear comfortable bras according to the clothes we wear and the activity required.

1990 : Madonna Sporting A Golden Pointy Cone Bra Corset Designed By Jean Paul Gaultier

Blond Ambition Tour
Blond Ambition Tour | Source

A History Of The Bra


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    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 

      6 years ago

      Something we see every day but never give it a thought.Terrific job in explaining the history and finally where the bra stands today.

    • crystolite profile image


      8 years ago from Houston TX

      Excellent hub on woman bra.Actually wearing of bra makes woman look not only comfortable but sexy and attractive and it brings out the real femininity in them.

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 

      8 years ago from UK

      Interesting facts about the item of clothing that has iconic in so many ways. It has influenced culture, fashion and femininity ( bra -burning was the symbolic gesture of feminism). Thanks for the hub. Perhaps an item men's persistent befuddlement at bra-hook would also be useful ;-) (only kidding!) voted up! Great hubscore by the way- congrts on the magical 100 score- well deserved!


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