Australia’s Lingerie Blog for Women D Cup and Up

The History of the Bra

by Maxine on February 09, 2012 in Bra Fitting, Breast Health, Lingerie Trends

Corsets caused a plethora of health problems...Major lingerie innovations this decade include the introduction of flexiwire to maternity bras and the increasing sophistication of sports bras.

One hundred years ago, women were wearing corsets that caused a plethora of health problems but gave them tiny waists and confined their breasts. In 1914, the first bra was made out of two hankies and a long pink ribbon.

Women won the right to vote in the 1920s and they also threw out rigid corsets and chose bras that flattened them.

Seeking separation and support, women of the 1930s were indulged in luxurious silk, satin, taffeta and lace; screen sirens like Greta Garbo starred in beautiful lingerie, but cleavages were a no-no.

The pre-war era demanded strong, durable underwear for the women to do their duty in factories and bullet shaped bras with target stitching became the essential underwear for their changing lives.

The sweater era of the 1950s saw breasts receiving more attention than ever before. Curvaceous Hollywood divas Jayne Mansfield and Sophia Loren set the pace and less shapely women were given push-up and padded options.

Bras were seen as objects of oppression in the 1960s when women threw them away with their high heeled shoes. Feminists accused lingerie designers of ‘packaging breasts according to men’s, rather than women’s specifications.’

Sexy empowering 1970s saw women aspire to the lean toned body through roller skating and exercise fads and breasts were no longer the main attraction. Underwear became outerwear in the 1980s and women like Madonna became more daring.

In the 1990s women could flatten, flaunt or flatter – their bras no longer defined them.

This century, women’s options have exploded! Balconnet, half cup, full cup, strapless and many other styles come in a range of glorious fabrics and sizes.  For years the largest cup was DD, which seemed to be pretty big, and now there are many gorgeous bras that go up to K cup. Estrogen is often cited as the culprit, but mainly it’s because women are being fitted properly now. It’s not unusual for a woman to wear a 14DD when she is really a 10FF.

Our favourite innovations this decade are the introduction of flexiwire to maternity bras and the sophistication of sports bras. Not only are beautiful fabrics being used for maternity bras, but now the breasts can be lifted and separated by soft plastic wires designed to flex and change position with a mother’s changing shape.

Today’s sports bras combine great design and high performance fabrics. They reduce the bounce significantly to help women avoid breast sag and give them confidence to reach peak performance. Losing weight and getting fitter has never been more attainable for shapely women. But, don’t even think about doing Zumba or Bootcamp without a properly fitted, supportive sports bra.

By Lin Windram.

6 Responses to "The History of the Bra"

  1. Mrs S says:

    I am a former bra Specialists from VS…they fit terrible…I also sew… so I measured women different then the company wanted me to. They have a standard certification class that half the time they rush girls through to get them trained but mostly what they are concerned about is selling and credit cards. The technique they use is so WRONG and during my research over the last year they are the only company that measures this way and it is stupid!!! I lost my job to some bogus bullshit but I think the real problem that I questioned how they measure and honesty of the company…I am a excellent bra fitter and I took this very seriously I would not lie to the customers that trusted me!…How can a company that claims to specialize in bras insist on not adding the band measurement is beyond me…it make absolutely no sense…I hate that women fall for their crap everyday even the ANGELS are fitted wrong

    • The Bra Fitter says:

      Hi Mrs.S,
      Sounds frustrating and an interesting way to measure but to be honest, once over a C cup measuring with a tape measure is usually not accurate anyway no matter how you do it. Being fitted is so important. Thanks for your comments. Its always great to hear different views.

  2. The modern bra has already been invented at the end of 19th century:
    Patented by Christine Hardt at September 5th, 1889 (Germany),
    Herminie Cadolle (same year, France)
    1891: Hugo Schindler (Germany) & Mary Phelps-Jacob, patented in the US in 1914, sold it to Warner Brothers Corset Company.

    First bra in batch production 1912 by Sigmund Lindauer in Cannstatt (today a part of the city of Stuttgart) – named “Prima Donna”.


    And have you already heard about, that Austrian historians have found 15th century lingerie?

    As it seems, bra history has to be rewritten 🙂

    • The Bra Fitter says:

      Thanks Sunny Dessous, its always good to get more information. Yes weve read various articles and they all seem to tell us something different. Its all very interesting though, lingerie certainly has come a long way. Thanks for your post, much appreciated.

  3. jac says:

    I love the Bras at Brava, awesome variety and caring fitters. keep it up.

  4. Rebecca (12GG) says:

    So glad that in this decade we can choose natural, contoured or really sexy.

    Good sports bras are essential, I certainly wouldnt go to the gym without the Freya active, in fact I wasnt exercising at all until I felt supported. Now Im much fitter, ive lost weight, Im more confident and Im addicted to regular exercise in the fresh air. Changed my life!!

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