But it’s not only
- 1875 ? the “Union Under-Flannel” – a no-bones/eyelets/laces/pulleys garment made from wool fabrics
- 1889 ? the “Bien-?tre” – French for “Well Being” a design that perhaps rebelled against the constrictive dangers of the corset
- 1893 ? the “Breast Supporter” – a garment which included separate pockets for each breast, shoulder straps, and hook-and-eye closures
At the turn of the century, things were travelling in leaps and bounds in the bra department and in 1907 Vogue magazine first used the term “brassiere”, which interestingly, has its origins in the old French word for “upper arm”.
This is not to be confused with “brasserie” which is, of course, somewhere to eat.
Hot on the heels of Vogue, the Oxford English Dictionary, bastion of all things proper, lists the word “brassiere” in the 1912 edition.
Later, the outbreak of World War I forced women en masse into the work force. Factory work and regulation uniforms made wearing a corset everyday something of a problem for our war-time sisters. This did not deter women from the purchase of such items and in 1917 The U.S. War Industries Board requests women to stop buying corsets to reduce the consumption of metal. Sources say up to 28,000 tons of metal were conserved through this effort reputedly “enough to build two battleships.” Yay team!
During the 1930s the word “bra” came into popular usage and in this decade Warner developed what would become the universal cup sizing of bras around the world.
Soon World War again threatened women’s underwear manufacturing and between the years of 1941 and 1945, with common fabrics such as cotton, rubber, silk and steel in short supply. Manufacturers adapted their designs to utilise the new range of synthetic materials.
Recent years have seen some technologically-advanced enhancements to this basic bra model including padding and boosting by way of inserts, gel pouches and now inflatable pockets. I wonder what our ancient warrior sisters from Crete would think of that?
Women in the 21st century have a selection of underwear available to them like never before in sizes, fabrics and types of support, for sport, maternity, evening wear and everyday wear.
Let’s go shopping…