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The History of the Bra

The History of the Bra ANCIENT Egypt Women went bare-breasted under long, flowing tunics. 16th CENTURY The corset becomes the nom for women of the aristocracy. For the next four centuries, women will be expected to bind their waists, pushing their breasts upwards and out. Roman EMPIRE Young girls wore "breast bands," or fascia, to prevent their breasts from sagging as they got older. 1869 1866 In France, Herminie Cadolle cuts a corset into two separate undergaments. The top one, which supports the breast, known as the corselet gorge, would later become soutien-gorge (or bra, in French). The first bra appears in Great Britain, made of wire and silk. 1893 1910 Marie Tucek takes out the first U.S. bra patent. Her product consists of one pocket for each breast mounted on a metal plate and supported by shoulder straps. Sound familiar? That's because it's basically an underwire bra. However, Tucek failed to market it successfully at the time. Mary Phelps Jacobs invents the first modern brassiere. Legend has it that the 19-year-old New York socialite improvised the new kind of undergarment with a pair of silk handkerchiefs and pink silk ribbons after noticing that her whalebone corset looked chunky under her new sheer evening gown. WORLD War I Shortages of metal and the growing presence of women in the workforce hasten the end of the corset. By the end of the war in 1918, fashion forward women in Europe and North America have adopted the brassiere as their undergarment of choice. 1920s Gin, Jazz and – no curves? The bandeau helps flatten women's breasts to give them the boyish, almost androgynous shape favored by flappers. 1922 Seamstress Ida Rosenthal, her husband William and dressmaker Enid Bisset found Maidenform to counter the bandeau trend. The new bra focuses on fit and shape to accentuate the natural form and enhance - rather than flatten – women's assets. bra ABCD OCTOBER 1930 1932 The brassiere becomes commonly known as the "bra." The S.H. Camp and Company assigns the size of women's breasts to cup sizes, A through D. WORLD War II Women at work in factories need protection and support. The answer? Bras. Military terminology creeps into fashion and styles like the bullet, or torpedo bra, become popular. 1941 A survey conducted by the British government finds that on average, women own 1.2 bras. 1950s Bras are no exception to the boom in consumer goods. The rise of the "Sweater Girl" look, popularized by Marilyn Monroe and Lana Turner, encourages women to adopt bullet bras that give off the appearance of a bigger cup size. The Baby Boom creates marketing opportunities for special maternity bras and starter bras for pre-teen and teenage girls. 1962 1964 Rudy Gernreich, an Austrian-born American fashion designer, releases the topless "monokini," foreshadowing 1960s counterculture. Louise Poirier creates the pushup Wonderbra for Canadadelle, a Canadian lingerie company. 1967 SEPTEMBER 7 1968 "Mrs. Robinson" blows minds with her black lace bra and come hither stare. During the 1968 Miss America Competition, a group of 400 women protest societal pressure on the Atlantic City boardwalk by throwing their heels, makeup, hairspray and bras into a "Freedom Trashcan. 1977 1983 Lisa Lindahl, Polly Smith and Hinda Mille invent the first sports bra, the "Jogbra," while at the University of Vermont. Princess Leia's gold bikini bra (and matching loincloth) from "Return of the Jedi" captures the imagination of a generation (and future "Friends" fans). 1990 1995 Madonna shows off her now iconic "Seinfeld" invents "the Bro" (or Jean-Paul Gaultier cone bra during her Blond Ambition tour. "the Manssiere," depending on whose side you're on). 2009 The Daily Mail finds that the average woman will spend $4,000 on bras in her lifetime and owns an average of 16 bras at any given time. 2014 Victoria's Secret launches a $10 million bra, encrusted with 4,200 precious gems (including diamonds, rubies and yellow sapphires) and set in 18-karat gold. The best part? A 52-karat pear shaped ruby at the center. AS THE SAYING GOES Ifyou've got it, flaunt it. THE HUFFINGTON POST ( SOURCES Fashion Encyclopedia: Kalasiris.html Baltimore Sun: "A historical figure at the salon Cadolle, where the brassiere was bom, the lingerie of madame's dreams is within the length of a tape measure." Refinery 29: "From Brandi to Britney, 11 bras that made titillating history" New York Post: "100 Years of Everyone's Favorite Undergarment" Jewish Women's Archives: "Ida Cohen Rosenthal" Office for National Statistics: "From Underwear to Aircraft Noise, Logging 70 Years of Social Change" Bra Doctor Blog: "Lingerie From History We Would (Probably) Never Wear Again" Huffington Post: "Rudi Gemreich Monikini and More Outrageous Bathing Suits Through the Years" Inventor Spot: "Wonderbra, History of the Fifth Greatest Canadian Invention" NPR: "Pageant Protest Spawned Bra Burning Myth" Seinfeld: Season 6, Episode 18, The Doorman" Stylelist: "This Year's Victoria's Secret Fantasy Bra Is Worth $10 Million" 10-million/

The History of the Bra

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In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, HuffPost has partnered with Hologic's 'Genius' 3D Mammogram for a fun look at the evolution of the bra.




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