Women have a different body than that of men, and thus they have different requirements for an innerwear. Women use a brassiere, which is an undergarment that is designed to provide support and coverage to their breasts. Bras are said to be discovered in the 19th century and since then, they have evolved a lot. Now, bras have also become fashion clothing. There are a gazillion types of bras available for different purposes, from enhancing the cleavage to make the breast appear fuller to giving small breasts a gentle life to make them look sexy, we have it all. But here we will dig a little deeper into these brassieres and see how they originated and how they have evolved in the time!
In the Ancient Civilization of the Egyptians, Indians, Greeks, Romans and East Asia, the originations were different. The Egyptians wore a rectangular piece of cloth which was folded and sewn down the edge to make a tube. This is how the Egyptian women covered their breasts. In India, the custom of the blouse has always been prevalent. The first reference to bras is dated to the time of Harshvardhana, during whose reign, sewn bras and blouses were very common. This was worn by the young girls as well. In Greece, figurines and wall carvings show women wearing a specialized garment to restrain the breasts of women. They called it the bikini. Their clothing had a strong resemblance to the modern fitted and laced corsets or a corselette.
The Middle Ages
The European History says that during the Middle Ages, women used something like a cloth binder, to cover their breasts. Though it has not been popular then, some women refrained exposing their breasts. These cloth binders were intended to cover the breasts and make them look smaller. Later, women started to wear dresses that had straight bodices, and high necklines. These functioned well to provide support to the breasts. If we take a look at the History of Extra, the women had in mind “conceal and support”, and thus refrained from the idea of exposing their breasts. Thus, women switched to the dresses which were tight enough to provide the required support.
During the Renaissance, showing of the asset was back in fashion again. Though women didn’t really expose themselves completely, the time for cleavage had arrived. The new dresses of the renaissance caused the breasts to squeeze and thus pushed them upwards, exposing the cleavage. This became prevalent because of the mentality of people that firm breasts and plentiful cleavages were associated with rich and beautiful women only. This might sound surprising, but during the renaissance era, women also refrained themselves from breastfeeding because they believed that breastfeeding would cause their breasts to degrade and thus, they would have to compromise with what they had to work with.
The Victorian Era
During this time, the thing got a little complex, when women starting to wear corsets that were really tight because of the lacing. This caused women’s waist to look slimmer than the usual, but damaged women’s bodies. Their health started to decline, causing problems like nausea, dizziness, etc. The tight lacing and dresses again pushed the breasts up, making them expose more cleavage.
The First Modern Bra
The first bra was invented in 1869, by a woman named Herminie Cadolle. She designed the bra as a two-piece corset. The upper part was designed with shoulder straps to provide better support to the breasts. This was also much more comfortable than the regular corsets.
The Bras in the 20th Century
The Time Magazine mentions that “Backless Brassiere” was invented by Mary Phelps Jacob in 1914. She wanted to create a more comfortable bra which could be worn for the parties. She did that by using two handkerchiefs and ribbons. In the end, she came up with a lightweight, soft, comfortable bra which was quite different from the bra invented by Herminie Cadolle.
The Roaring Twenties
The cups in the bras came to the market, because of Ida Rosenthal and her company Maidenform. She and her company is the reason why bras with cups are now a thing. They offered different sized cups even at that time.
The First Sports Bra
The feminists started to protest against bras because they believed that the bras were actually torture devices for women. Thus, in 1977, Lisa Lindahl invented the first sports bra and called her Jogbra. The New York Magazine said that it was the first bra that was created with movement, and athleticism, with keeping the women specifically in mind.
The Bras of today
Now, we have a huge variety of bras in the market and a lot of designs to choose from as well. Celebrities like Madonna, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé have made a craze of different kinds of bras amongst the people. There are so many companies in the market who have made it possible to get bras in a lot of sizes.