The Very Beginning Of A Bra
Brassieres can be found to originate as far back as 62AD; however the brassieres used in the past are not what we would class as bras today. Definitely not sexy lingerie
! They could be as simple as a band of cloth over their breasts, or even almost like a bikini which is what is believed that ancient Greek women wore when taking part in sports. There are even references to brassieres in 1st century AD India! This piece of lingerie truly has a long history.
The Middle Ages.
In the middle ages it was more likely that women used cloth to bind their breasts, as opposed to sexy lingerie like bras! In China during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) cloth with cups and straps drawn over their shoulders were used as a form of bra. During the middle ages, support was either not allowed or women used bodices or corsets what was worn depending on where you lived, what social circle you were in and the restraints placed on women at that time.
The Edwardian Times.
During the Edwardian era corsets turned into more like a girdle, which was accompanied by an upper garment called a bust bodice, which had a similar function to the bras we know today. The bra we know today was driven into being by two main movements; health professionals became concerned about the constricting effects of the corset and feminists realised that with the greater participation of women in society the corset would need to be reformed into a more suitable type of lingerie. In 1874 Elizabeth Stuart Phelps urged women to burn their corsets, which inspired the 1963 bra burnings. Early brassieres in this era were either wrap around bodices or close-fitting camisoles designed to wear over the corset.
19th Century - The Push Up Bra.
The world's oldest push up bra is claimed to be from the early 19th century, in the early 19th century there were a lot of patents taken out of different types of bras, this era created the foundations for the bra that we know today. Names like 'true corset', 'flynt waist', 'corset substitute', 'corselet gorge' began to hit magazines and selves as designers raced to own this new niche in lingerie.
At first these were only popular for women who had medical reasons not to wear a corset, yet the bra became more and more popular over time. The precursor to the under wired bra was invented by Marie Tucek in 1893 yet unfortunately it was not successfully marketed.
20th Century - The Bras Become More Popular but Also Burned!
In the 20th century the bra started to get more and more popularity, in 1914 Mary Phelps took out a patent for the 'backless brassiere' which was soft and comfortable unlike the heavy and stiff corset. The reason for the bra taking off in the 20th century is likely because woman wanted more comfort and as softer and lighter corsets that we created for this need did not have the needed bust support the bra became a more sensible choice. The World Wars had a surprising effect on the adaption of lingerie and the bra is no exception, as women took up men's roles in World War 1 the bra became a lot more practical than the corset. In World War 2 bras became an essential part of a woman's military uniform. In the 1930's brassiere became the bra, and as many more changes had happened corset became purely for the waist and the breasts were left to the support of the bra.
In the 1960's Lingerie once again became a target for feminists, bras were burnt as a symbol of woman fighting against the restrictions imposed on them by society. This protest was again repeated in the 1970's.
Yet with the varied and active history, being a prop for the feminist movement, will bras become more obsolete as time goes by, will they go the same way as corsets and garters?
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