The History of The Bra

history of the bra

Are you interested in the history of the Bra? Some people love bras, as they need the support that it provides while other people are vastly unhappy with the current designs available and the level of discomfort that this undergarment provides daily.

Whether you love them or hate them, most women spend more time in bras than without them for the majority of their lives. If you have ever stopped to think about the bra you may have some questions! We had them too so we set out to find the answers to some of the most asked questions regarding bras.

Who first invented the bra?

history of the bra

The original inventor of the bra was Herminie Cadolle. She was a French inventor and she designed the original bra in 1889. Cadolle invented this undergarment after fleeing to Buenos Aires, Argentina. She opened a lingerie shop here and the original version of the bra was closer to a 2-piece corset.

The lower garment was a corset for the stomach. The upper garment was to support a women’s breasts which included shoulder straps which most corsets did not. The shop in which Cadolle invented these items was a lingerie shop in which the patrons were measured for each piece and then the pieces were made to the measurements taken. This allowed women to still wear something like a corset but made to fit their unique body type.

This is especially important for women who were bigger on top than in the waist or bigger in the waist than on top. Now women could get the right amount of support on top without the corset being too tight through the stomach area.

Although Herminie Cadolle was the first person on record to invent the bra, this answer would be incomplete without mentioning American Mary Phelps Jacob, who had the first American Patent of a brassiere and whom many consider the creator of the modern bra.

Herminie Cadolle had a two-piece undergarment that included the bra on top with shoulder straps for support. Mary Phelps Jacob had a similar style to her bra except she took a couple of silk handkerchiefs, ribbon, and cord and sewed them together to make a much more comfortable alternative to the corset.

When was the first bra invented?

Herminie Cadolle first invented her version of the bra in 1889. Mary Phelps Jacob patented her version of the modern bra on November 3, 1914. The modern bra rose to popularity during WWI when the US government requested that women stop purchasing corsets, to conserve metal.

Why did they invent bras?

When we ask why the bra was invented it is pretty much the same for both women. They despised the corset as so many other women at the time did. For Cadolle, she invented the two-piece corset-like undergarment to provide more comfort for herself and other women.

Corsets were not only extremely uncomfortable, but they were not easy or quick to get into and out of daily. By separating the two sections, women would be able to be properly measured for each piece and have more options for comfort and ease of the undergarments, without losing the support that they were accustomed to.

Also Read: Best Bra Fitting Guide – How to find your perfect fit bra?

Phelps Jacob was a person of wealth and she wore corsets often. She invented her version of the modern bra at first to accommodate herself. She was sick of being super uncomfortable in an undergarment which had steel rods poking into your skin and controlling the body position you must maintain to avoid being stabbed. Then she became fed up with the rods poking through the materials that her evening dresses were made of. This is what inspired her to create her first bra.

What was used before bras?

There was a time before bras, and it was even less comfortable than now. Originally women would wrap or bind their breasts in fabric. This could be achieved by only wrapping a length of fabric around the breast area front to back and repeat. Sometimes people would use the fabric crisscross over the shoulders and the breasts.

Also Read: Bra Fitting and its difficulties

Eventually, binding and wrapping went away and corsets became the go-to solution of supporting a woman’s breasts. Corsets have a certain appeal to some people because they help bind your stomach tighter creating a smaller and more desirable waist while at the same time pushing your breasts up and creating more cleavage than you may have naturally.

Although the corset reigned supreme for a while (and even gained popularity in modern times as a fashion accessory) there were certainly reasons women did not love wearing them. You cannot get dressed alone, you need assistance lacing and tying your corset every morning and removing it every night. Besides the help you need just to wear this item, getting dressed can take a while. Finally, they can be very uncomfortable. Corsets restrict the way that you can move and can make it much harder to breathe.

Why were bras in the early 1900s so pointy?

The pointy bras, also commonly known as Bullet Bras, were a high fashion trend in the 1940s and 1950s. This period was also when lingerie shops started popularizing the idea that women should be proud of their bodies and choose undergarments based on their likes and fashion versus function.

You can find tons of photos of Hollywood starlets wearing bullet bras in this period. You can also search for sweater girls to see a wide variety of this type of fashion.

The biggest reason for this fashion choice was to celebrate one’s femininity instead of working to hide it. During this time women were embracing their bodies and this over the top style of the bra only accentuated the femininity and curves of a woman’s body.

Different types of bras invention with time

The bra was invented in 1889 and since then every decade or so sees a change in fashion and function for the preferred type of bra. Originally the corset went from one piece to two pieces, adding should straps. Then there was focus on just wearing a bra for comfort only, with no corset piece involved. In the 1930s cup sizes were invented to allow a different woman to wear different bras which were more suited to their body type.

Also Read: Bra Size Calculator

In the 1940s the bullet bra took hold and was popular for about 15 years, it ever had a resurgence in the 1990’s thanks to Madonna. In the 1960s the Wonderbra was created, although it did not catch on to the 1990s. The 1970s brought us our first sports bra.

From the 1980s onward bras became as much as a fashion statement as a functional piece of underwear. People started gravitating towards bold looks and designs and choosing different bras for different needs. Most people own a sports bra, a push-up bra, a strapless bra as well as several everyday bras.

The bra certainly has a long and interesting history and we can only imagine what will come next.

1 Comment

  • John Smith

    Thanks for your impressive and full detailed article about Bra.
    It was so interesting.
    Nice job.

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