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History of Bras: Secrets From The Archives
History of Bras - From
the war era economy to Hollywood starlets – the modern bra has been
influenced and affected in more ways that you could imagine.Who
could have guessed that a private undergarment could have such a rich
We’ve dug deep into the history of bras to bring you these
secrets from the archives – everything from the bra’s
enterprising beginnings to new technology that will carry lingerie
into the future. Join us for a walk down memory lane as we reveal the
beautiful secrets of the history of bras.
History of Bras - The War Era
the early 20th
century corsets had been replaced by undergarments resembling the
1914 American Mary Phelps Jacob designed and patented the first bra
out of necessity when she couldn’t find the right under pinning to
wear with a gown to a society event.
- Mary's early design was
essentially two handkerchiefs sewn together to cover the bust, but
it was enough to get her on her way to the party and form the basis
for the bra as we know it today.
- Her pioneering patent was later
purchased by the Warner company. While her original design was
eventually abandoned, it was the basis for Warner’s future designs
and development of bras as we know them today.
World War 1 women were asked to buy bras instead of corsets, which
tied up too much steel that could have instead been used for battle.
began to enter the mainstream and were prominently featured in major
departments stores displays by 1918.
Lingerie In The 1930s
sizes became a standard feature in the 30s. Choices of fabrics and
colors, along with the development of stretch knits for comfort,
turned the bra into a major industry at this time.
- It was during
this period that some of today’s major bra brands like Maidenform,
Gossard, and Triumph joined the ranks of Warner’s in manufacturing
and selling bras to the masses.
word “bra” was added to the dictionary in 1939.
Did You Know?
The word that we have come to know as "lingerie" actually didn't emerge until fairly recently.
Lingerie comes from the French word for linen - "linge", which roughly translates as loosely hanging clothing.
1940s Intimate Apparel
silhouettes changed with the fashions, so did bras. The torpedo, or
bullet bra, gave women the conical shaped bust that was all the rage
at this time.
- Hollywood’s influence was in full force after Howard
Hughes created the cantilever bra, based on architectural bridge
designs, to support actress Jane Russell’s ample bust. Women
everywhere were clamoring to re-create this shape for themselves.
baby boom sparked the creation of nursing and maternity bras to
accommodate the influx of new mothers.
sirens like Marilyn Monroe and Lana Turner made the Sweater Girl
style the look of the moment and bras with padding, stretch fabrics,
and different styles became available to help women emulate the
60s heralded in the invention of the Wonderbra, designed by a
Canadian lingerie company. The revolutionary style boasted 54 design
elements to lift and boost the bust, and create the ultra hot
push-up effect that’s still a favorite today.
1970s, 1980s and 1990s
were free to express themselves and their bodies however they
desired, and bras allowed them to choose from flat, pointed, rounded
or pushed-up silhouettes.
- Bras were available in a wide variety of
styles, colors, fabrics and looks. Women were able to select their
level of cleavage, and bras were designed to accommodate specific
clothing and necklines.
bras became a popular style with the rise of jogging and other
fitness endeavors that created a need for a bra with technical and
History of Bras - 2000s and today
are now in an era that has seen an increased need for larger bra
sizes. Bust sizes and body mass have grown across North American and
Europe, which has created a need for more supportive and comfortable
technology is unfolding all the time, giving women endless choices
for molded cups, seamless styles, weightless bras, gel bras, air
bras, and more.
have become part of a woman’s fashion wardrobe. With matching
panties, endless varieties of prints, colors, and styles, women can
enjoy expressing themselves through their lingerie as much as their
every day fashion. Bras have transcended function and practicality
and are a style choice instead of just a necessity.
is constantly evolving, leading women to find ways to not wear a bra
at all, like pasties, silicone cups, and adhesive bras that
accommodate increasingly revealing clothing.