Women have used garments designed to lift, separate and restrain their breast since as early as 2000 BC. From the 1500s until the 1800s the corset was the primary under-garment used by women for the purpose of shaping the waist and lifting the breasts.
In 1893, Marie Tucek patented the Breast Supporter the first garment similar to the modern-day bra that used shoulder straps with a hook-and-eye closure to support the breasts in pockets of fabric. By 1907, the term brassiere began to show up in high-profile women's magazines and eventually, around 1912, it appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary.
In 1913, New York socialite Mary Phelps Jacob took matters into her own hands and fashioned her own corset replacement out of two silk handkerchiefs and some ribbon. Her friends were sold on this innovative idea and encouraged Mary to apply for a patent for her Backless Brassiere design. Within a short time, Mary lost interest in the garment business and sold her patent to Warner Brothers Corset Company for $1,500. Today, Warner Brothers is a leading name brand manufacturer of bras. Check out the extensive selection of bras on our bra styles page.
By 1928, entrepreneur Ida Rosenthal took the bra to its next stage by introducing cup sizes and bras for all stages of a women's life. Several years later, Warner added the A to D sizing system.
To figure out exactly what your cup size and perfect bra measurements are, please go to our fitting a bra page.
Bras and Protesting
Remember the bra-burning of the 60s? Here's a present-day story to prove that the bra is still a powerful protest tool.
Hot Pink Bras Used in New Zealand Government Protest
September 11, 2003, New Zealand - According to the New Zealand Herald, stunning hot pink bras held up Parliament, as blouses were whipped off in a colorful and rowdy protest against genetic engineering.
Protesters who shocked MPs by baring but not burning their bras have been banned from Parliament for two years thanks to the colorful stunt.
According to speaker Jonathan Hunt, the nine women, from Mothers Against Genetic Engineering (MADGE), were being treated fairly and equal to anyone else who disrupts Parliament.
The New Zealand Herald reported that the women, led by MADGE founder and former pop singer Alannah Currie, had co-ordinated child care for the day so they could slip past security guards and through metal detection units with signs which had been attached by velcro to their pink and black bras. They stripped their shirts off and stood in Parliament's public gallery chanting against GM.
According to Ms Currie, MADGE had decided to protest in Parliament because the women felt MPs were not listening to those who wanted the moratorium on the release of GM organisms extended.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. We want them to listen. We've done every single thing possible. We had to get in their face and show our knickers.