Bras. We wear them daily, sometimes complain about them, and tend to take them for granted. The modern woman usually prioritises comfort or style above all else when choosing one, but things were very different back when they were first made (over 800 years ago!) With that said, let’s take a deep dive into the surprising history of bras for a history lesson unlike any other.
1. 1300s – the first bandeau bra
Back in the 14th century, during the Minoan era in Greece, female athletes wore bras that were shockingly similar to the bandeau bras women wear today. This is the first instance of a bra worn by anyone in recorded history.
2. 1500s – Corsets
In pursuit of the supposed perfect woman’s body, the French invented corsets in the early 16th century. This contraption supposedly made your body emulate an inverted triangle – the desired body shape of the time. The corsets flattened and pushed the chest upwards and were made of wood or whalebone. They were notoriously painful but remained popular for the next few hundred years.
3. 1869 – the birth of the “bra”
1869 was the year what we know as a bra came into existence. The corset, from the previous centuries, was cut in half; the top half holding the breasts up by the straps, while the lower part was used to cinch in the waist. A few decades later, the top half started being sold separately.
4. 1910 – comfort first
While the makings of a modern bra had been made available for a few decades by then, they were still quite uncomfortable due to the rigidity of the support beams. In 1910, however, writer and inventor Mary Phelps Jacob made the modern bra with silk materials – notably excluding the whalebone.
5. 1932 – bras now have sizes
At this point in the 20th century, mass production of bras began. This meant that bras wouldn’t be tailored to a person anymore; instead, a generalised size chart would have to be used. Cup sizes, where the size of a woman’s breast would correlate to letters of the alphabet, were born.
6. 1964 – “push-up” bra
Wonderbra, a lingerie company in Canada, first created the push-up bra. The first bra to push up the entirety of the bustline at once.
7. 1977 – sports bra
First dubbed the “jogbra”, the sports bra was designed when working out became more commonplace for women. The bra was infinitely more supportive and filled a significant gap in the undergarment industry.
8. Today – The modern-day bras
As women’s needs evolve, so have bras. Countless styles of bras have been popularised and made accessible for women everywhere. These include everything from strapless bras to t-shirt bras to the return of the corset bra! Things like memory foam and padding have also been introduced to enhance comfort levels and the look of the chest area.
The bra’s long and storied history has led to the many choices we have today. The evolution of bras has been nothing short of drastic. We’ve made a lot of headway from the beginnings all those years ago – but one thing has remained the same; bras are a daily necessity.
That’s why I’M IN provides Asian-fit intimates for every possible need you might have. From comfortable everyday strapless bras to stylish bandeau bras, we have high-quality intimates for every occasion. Contact us today to find out more!
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