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Thanks to the Bra – For 100+ Years of Support

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This year 2013 the bra is 106 years old. Throughout those years, the bra has had eventful moments since making its first appearance in Vogue in 1907. Here is the timeline of the bra’s development.

1907  -  The undergarment shows up in Vogue Magazine and it was called “brassiere” for the first time.  The French word means a soldier’s shield or arm guard.

1911  -  The word became included in the Oxford English Dictionary.

1914  -  Mary Phelps Jacob, a New York Socialite, was awarded the first brassiere patent, but sold it to the Warner Brothers Corset Co. in Bridgesport, Connecticut for one thousand five hundred dollars when she lost interest.  Warner reportedly pulled in $15 million in the years that followed.

1925  -  Ida Rosenthal, a Russian immigrant, and friend Enid Bisset, founded the Maidenform plant in Bayonne, NJ.  Ida Rosenthal later invented the cup sizes in 1928, although there were reports that the idea came from her husband William.

1937  -  Lana Turner wore an attire in “They Won’t Forget”; it was form fitting, revealing that the technology of the bra has increased pointy and lift.  This appealed to men and made her nicknamed “Sweater Girl”.

1946  -  The Paris catwalk reveals the first bikini, designed by fashion designer Jacques Heim and French engineer Louis Reard.  The suit was named after a test site for nuclear weapon in the Marshall Island, the Bikini atoll, because they rightly thought that the suit would make an explosion.

1965  -  The “no bra” bra was invented by designer Rudi Gernreich.  The bra was made of see through netting, and favored the flat, boyish 60s silhouette.  Genreich also invented the topless bathing suit in 1964.

1968  -  The year saw the legend of feminist bra burning as a result of the 1968 Miss America Pageant.  Women who joined the protest in Atlantic City filled a trash can with bras, high heels, girdles, make ups and hair sprays, but the burning did not push through because they failed to obtain a fire permit.

1970  -  Germaine Greer and her best seller, “The Female Eunuch” became household names.  She said that “bras are a ludicrous invention, but if you make bralessness a rule, you’re just subjecting yourself to yet another repression”.  Despite this statement, Greer is believed to be involved with the myth of bra burning.

1977  -  Victoria’s Secret was founded in San Francisco, and this introduced catalogue shopping.  It was also this year when Lisa Lindahl sew the first sports bra out of 2 jock straps.  She took it to test jogging with pal Hinda Miller.

1990  -  Jean Paul Gaultier designed a pointy cone bra for Madonna for her Blonde Ambition Concert tour.  It was a brilliant design and Madonna was credited for its being famous, bringing out the shapewear from the bedroom onto the American streets.

1991  -  Wonderbra was reintroduced.  (It was trademarked in 1935).  It was worn by Eva Herzigova in a “Hello Boys” ad campaign and gave the line a great profile.

2004  -  Janet Jackson had a wardrobe malfunction during her Super Bowl performance with Justin Timberlake.  The malfunction revealed that she was not wearing a bra but had the nipple shield.

2007  -  Britney Spears, during her comeback performance at the Video Music Awards, showed off a black sparky panty set and bra, which certainly will not be displayed in Vogue.

There is it – the bra’s 100+ years.  Whether worn in or out, there is one thing certain:  for us who do not want our fronts to hang out, this invention will continue to be behind the scene working hard for us.

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  • Sofia Johnson
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