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The Bra as We Know It


The term “brassiere” first appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1911. Mary Phelps Jacob patented the first modern bra in 1914, which is known as the “backless brassiere.” Do you wonder how women dressed before this crucial undergarment was invented?

This infographic shows ancient Greek and Roman women used to wrap their breasts in gauze, not for aesthetic but practical purposes. In the Middle Ages, European women wore linen chemises under their clothes much like how we wear camisoles today. The 14th century was the beginning of shapewear – women started wearing stiff linen bodices. The Elizabethans (1500s) and Victorians (1800s) popularized the corset, along with hoops (farthingales) that accentuate the hips and lacey undergarments.

Fast forward to the 1920s, bras were mostly bandeau-shaped, thus the “Flapper” era. Ida Rosenthal, founder of Maidenform, was responsible for creating the universal letter cup sizes A, B, C, D … Nowadays, bras come in all shapes and forms – underwire, non-underwire, full coverage, plunge, racer-back, strapless, convertible, pushup, balconette and sports bra.

A well-fitting bra for your body shape and outfit is not only necessary for looking good but also important for your health. There’re many manufacturers and bra experts who can help you find the right fit – Linda the bra lady and Oprah’s bra intervention. If you’re in need of bras, check out Maidenform, Victoria’s Secret, La Perla and Agent Provocateur.

Also let us know: What’s your perfect bra?

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