Sunday, May 22, 2016

The history of bra

Women have worn bras in different shapes,materials and sizes through around 500 years now - find out what was the history of this favorite and most practical  female undergarment!

Bras and its history are tightly knitted in history of  female social status in society.

Women have found various ways to cover,re-shape and modify apperance of their breasts - some of them even took the tool on their health.

Before i start i'd like to point out at wrong presumption that bra came to existance after corset,in reality bra came first!

Lets go now  back to known civilizations of ancient times to see what was their attitude twords female breasts and their coveryng.

In  ancient Egypt females generally did not wear bras - they were bear breasted under their dresses  and sometimes in generall .

In ancient India even though we can see majority of represented females wearing only a blouse we can find few depictions of women wearing bras and corset like garments !

In anciant Greek depictions of the times we can find maybe even earliest  corset and bra garments meant to support breasts . Minoan women of the Crete ,3000 years ago apparently wore corset like a support for their breast not necesarilly covering them . (example Cretean snake godess on the left)

Women of Classical Greece   mostly   wore apodesmos (picture right)  and mastodesmos (picture down left)  both meaning ''breast bands'' - a band of linen or wool that was wrapped across or under  breasts and tied or pinned at the back.

In ancient Rome women adopted a version of Greek apodesme better known as strophium or mamillare .  Young girls would wear breast bands(fascia) because of belif that doing so would prevent girl getting saggy large breasts wich Romans were not fonde of.
Mosaic from ''Villa Romana del Casale'' depicts women performing gymnastics or dance routins while wearing some peaces of garments like strapless bra and briefies.

Now lets take a look of undergarment fashion of middle ages and later !

In Europe in middle ages women rarely restricted or supported their breasts,and if they did they probably  did so with  cloth binder .
A famous quote (whos exact source has not been located)  from the 1370s states following '' No woman will support the bust by the disposition of a blouse or by tightened dress'' but archeological findings do prove  bras meant for breast support did exist at the time .
In Austrian castle four lace decorated bras were found among 3000 textile fragments (picture right )
Generally speaking in middle ages breasts were minimized in dresses with straight bodices and in late medival times dresses were made tight to body with intention to support breasts.

In Renaissance decolletage became - well we can say, a trend. Perky breasts were cherished and women even gave their babies to wet nurses so they could mantain the shape of their breasts,because it was belived breast feeding ''destroyes'' them. By the mid-15th century corsets started to appear.

Early corstes of the 16th century consisted of paste-stiffened linen and primitive busk at the front but later included iron support at the sides and back. Breasts were compressed and forced upward - well not by everyone,those women that actually had to work to survive wore a simple front lacing cotte (example picture at right side)

Only period of time of female ''brest liberation'' happened with French revolution and Napoleonic wars when everything associated to aristocracy was disliked  - at those times women often supported their breasts by tiing the belt under their breasts

Women started wearing bras more than corsets later in history because of two reansons:  Health professionals concernes about cruelly restraining effects of the corset and clothing reform movement by feminists. But the ''fight'' for corset perservation was tough by corset lovers !
At the begining only wealthier and more educated women who were eager of social change  wore bras.

Bras at first became more popular as an alternative to corsets at home wear,also were ''go-to'' garment for those women that had health problems and simply couldnt wear corsets.

Straight fronted corset became popular in the 20th century ,and because of the fact it did not offer support  full breasted women had to  rely on bras to achive the support they needed.

First modern bra was patented Christine Hardt in 1889 and Sigmund Lindauer from Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt , Germany developed a bra for mass production in 1912 and patented it in 1913.

With metal shortages and more women working at factories  during the WWI the era of corsets was officialy OVER and reign of bras has starte .

Bra was eventually adopted all over the world .

First backless bra was patented (1914)  by desperate New York socialite Mary Phelps Jackob (Crasse Crosby)  who couldnt stand that her new dress has visible whale bone poking out from her beautifle new sheer dress few years back (1910)

The ''bras for all ages'' were developed by Russian immigrant in New York,  seamstress  Ida Rosenthal(left) ,her husdband William Rosenthal  and shop owner Enid Bissett in 1922 ,after Ida noticed that one size of bra does not suit all women.  William Rosenthal patented maternity bra, fullfigured bra and first seamd uplift bra.

Home made bras were no more existant in 1930s only industrial ones.

The first to label breast size and fullness with leathers A-D  was the S.H. Camp and Company in 1932

Bras became major industry after 1930 and as the trend goes a lot of inovations were added to them as adjustable straps,sized cups and paded bras for small breasted women. It can be said that bras alone influenced entire industry - department stores started adding fitting areas.

In 1940s WWII impacted quite much the fashion ,esspecialy clothing of women.
Women were for the first time allowe to enlist to military and were given uniform underwear.
Willson Goggles,Pensylvanian firm that manifactured safety equipent for factory workers  was first to introduce plastic ''SAF-T-BRA'designed to protect women on factory floor.

Military terminology was used for many bras of the time,such as Torpedo or Bullet bra.
At the time underwier has begin to be used in production of bras.

First sport bra was invented in 1977 by Lisa Lindhal, Polly Smith and Hinda Mille after ever growing population of joggers and other athletes.

In the 2000s two large changes in design of bras were made - one is molded,seamlsess  bra cup and other is increesing usage of various prints on bras from simple flower motifs to comic book characters and so on.

The evolution of bra reflects what the ideal woman of the time was - pointy,round,flat or natural - one thing is sure women either want to liberate from it or be their ''slaves''

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