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A Tribute to the Bra

Updated on May 30, 2012
Tracy Hunter
Tracy Hunter | Source

According to, the brassiere was invented on May 30th. I've decided, therefore, to dedicate this hub to that wonderful invention, the bra---the one without which so many women (and men) would be lost.

And flabby.


The brassiere was certainly not the first device used by women to cover/hold up their breasts. Wealthy women throughout ancient history used many bra-like devices, such as the dudou in the Ming Dynasty and the ancient Indian kanchuka. The brassiere as we know it today, however, was unheard of until the early 20th century. Before the advent of the bra, women used tight, constricting corsets to keep their breasts (as well as their waistlines) supported. Or crushed, rather. Yeah, crushed would probably be the better word for it.

With the new century, however, came a new way of holding up the breasts---the brassier. Invented by a woman who found her breasts were much too large for the whale-bone corsets that were all the rage at the time, the modern bra was much safer, healthier, simpler, and more comfortable than traditional methods of breast confinement.

Err...sort of. Almost, anyway.


The bra was patented at around 1914 and increased in popularity throughout that decade. In 1917 women were asked to stop buying corsets so that more metal would be available for the war effort--an estimated two battleships worth of metal, to be exact. If it were not for the first World War, bras as we know them may not have caught on nearly as quickly, or perhaps not even at all.

Through the course of history bras became a symbol of femininity, and were worn by more women than ever before. All of that seemed to change, however, in the 1960s. The view of the bra as a female constriction device caused controversy an for represented the bonds that tied women in a majorly patriarchal society. The supposed feminist bra burnings of the late 60s and early 70s were greatly exaggerated, however, and only one documented protest in the 1970s involved the burning of an actual bra.

Male Bras

My father had a friend who had to wear a bra in high school because, for some odd reason, he had breasts. He wasn't overweight. On the contraire: he was actually quite skinny and still is. He just, for some reason, had breasts.

They're gone now.

The male bra is perhaps more tastefully known as the "compression vest", or the compression bra. The development of breasts sometimes occurs in adolescent boys and middle aged men, and is known as gynecomastia. Many men who develop gynecomastia opt to wear a compression bra, the purpose of which is to compress and flatten rather than life and separate like its female counterpart.

The Future of Bras

The "topless look", as it was called by fashion historian (which is apparently a thing) Rudolf Kristian Albert Broby-Johansen--a man who used up all of the ink in several pens just writing his name--was expected to gain popularity following the 1970s. It is nearly forty years later, however, and men and women alike still wear bras daily. The amount of women, many of them celebrities, who do not wear bras when going out in public is increasing, and clothing is being designed that was meant to be worn without a bra. Quite a few women change out of their bras once they're at home, especially if the bra does not fit quite well and causes discomfort.

So, there you have it.

Around one hundred years ago today, some woman sewed two pieces of silk together and invented the modern bra. Now most women all over the world are wearing it.

But in another hundred years will it still be around, or will women's clothing have evolved to not require it anymore?

Time will tell.

I won't be around to see it, though, so for now I'll just keep wearing my bra. Or not wearing it when I don't need to.

It depends.

Are bras on their way out?

See results


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    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      This was a very interesting hub Kennedy. I enjoy reading history hubs and how things came to be. Just a coincidence I chose to read one about bras..but why not. Well written, voted up.

    • Angie Jardine profile image

      Angie Jardine 5 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

      Ah, so that’s where they come from?

      Thanks for this entertaining and informative hub, Kennedi ... and many congrats on your HubNugget nomination. Well deserved!

    • heavenleigh707 profile image

      Heaven L Burkes 5 years ago from The Invincible Heart of Neverland

      Great Hub! Congratulations on your HubNugget Award! I especially love the vintage pictures!

    • toomuchmint profile image

      toomuchmint 5 years ago

      I never knew bras were such a complicated device. The original patent pictures are great! Congratulations on your HubNugget nomination. :)

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      There's really a male bra? Gosh, didn't know. Anyhow...I love wearing bras at times but at other times I don't :)

      Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination! This way to read and vote Three cheers and best of luck!

    • mom4autism profile image

      Lisa 5 years ago from Northeast U.S.

      I mujst say - WHO KNEW! Thanks for enlightening us - truly interesting to read!

    • Petfriends profile image

      Petfriends 5 years ago from New England Area

      Very interesting hub and congratulations on your hubnugget nomination.

    • Levertis Steele profile image

      Levertis Steele 5 years ago from Southern Clime

      How about those bras with cups that are nearly filled with padding designes to push small breasts up to appear to be spilling over! They make wearers look as if they have enough cleavage to sell to the less endowed.

      Yes, bras are a lifesaver for women who do not want to appear as if they are growing another set of arms.

      Male bras! "Get out of here!" I never heard of them, but I suppose we all know men with breasts. Although the one you mentioned was not overweight, most of the ones I have seen were obese.

      I was wondering why women of the Middle Ages looked as if they did not want anyone to know that they had breasts. They all looked flat, according to the paintings. Bless the heart of the inventor of the cup bra that lifts! I hated those bras that pointed; you know the ones that looked like drawn pistols. Some of the older women loved them. To each his own, of course.

      What an interesting and informative hub! Thanks for sharing.

    • Kennedi Brown profile image

      Kennedi Brown 5 years ago from Richlands, Virginia

      Ha! xD

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 5 years ago from San Francisco

      thanks for adding male bras, otherwise why am i reading this?