A lawsuit was fought in the courts from 1934 to 1938 in New York, between a German-born
designer, Otto Titzling (1884-1942), and a French-born designer,
Philippe de Brassiere over who had legal claim to the invention of the modern day bra. But, there were prototypes of the bra many years before either Titzling or Brassiere's claims.
Bra history truly began with the first bra to be patented. The first bra was patented in 1914 by Mary Phelps-Jacobs an American. It is not thought to be the first bra ever, but it is the first patented record and that gives her the credit.
Mary Phelps-Jacobs patented her bra design under the patent name of Caresse Crosby. Some suggest it was her French maid who provided the idea or the stitching help. Two silk handkerchiefs were tied together, baby ribbon sewn on to make straps and a seam set in the centre front.
I can't imagine this would hold up this set of mine without some major reinforcement with duct tape!
But then you also have American Marie Tucek who patented a bra-type undergarmet, which she called a "breast supporter," in 1893. It had two supportive cups and shoulder straps.
There were also a number of statues dating from 2500 BC have been found on the Greek island of Crete that show women wearing bra-like corsets that lifted their breasts out of their clothing. It was called a mastoeides (“shaped like a breast”).
Bust improvers or padded bras were popular in 1840. These bras have been called falsies, cuties, bosom friends, waxen bosoms, lemon loves, and pneumatic breasts.
In the 1920s, women wore bra-type underwear that pressed down their chests for the then-popular flat-chest look.
Also in the 1920's, a Russian immigrant named Ida Rosenthal founded the Maidenform lingerie company with her husband William. They made bras for women of every size and introduced the cup system (A, B, C, D). It wasn't until 1935 that bras were made with both cup and band sizes. The British called the cup measures junior, medium, full, and full with wide waist.
Strapless bras were introduced in 1938. They were popularized in the 1950s. Also the sweater girl bra was made in the 1950s. Its cups were shaped to points and looked a lot like cones.
The push-up bra was introduced in the 1990s. It makes women's breasts look larger that they are. In recent years bras have been sold that include little pillows of gel or water to make the chest look larger. Others can be pumped up with a little air pump.
Today, the average American woman owns six bras. White is the best-selling color for bras.
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06 Jan. 2005