Bra Styles Through the Years
At Trusst, a big part of making your bra the best D+ bra out there is understanding the history of what came before it. We then build upon that history to improve, innovate, and ultimately revolutionize the design of your lingerie.
We think it’s pretty fascinating how much that lingerie has evolved over the years, and how much of that evolution can be attributed to female innovators across the globe. Thanks to women throughout history, what started out as a simple bandeau has gradually metamorphosed into a sophisticated, high-tech bra!
Today, we’re writing about the evolution of the bra through the years and sharing how history paved the way for your revolutionary Trusst bra:
Bras in Ancient Times
In ancient times, most women didn’t wear bras at all, instead covering their breasts with loose pieces of fabric (I know -- we don’t know how they did it either).The earliest instances of bras can be found in India during the 13th century, where a “breast-wrangling garment” known as the choli was used to flatten breasts. In the 14th century, the choli transformed into the kanchuka, a type of bodice that became popular throughout India.
However, the first pictorial evidence of any form of breast support was actually found in 14th century Greece, where wall paintings illustrated athletes using a bandeau-like piece of cloth known as an apodesmos to cover their breasts. This practice was also adopted in Rome, where depictions of women show them wrapping a bikini-like band of cloth around their busts known as a strophium or fascia.
The Rise of the Corset
The first major development in the evolution of the bra came in the 16th century with the creation of the infamous corset. Conceived in France in the early 1500s for women who desired a thinner waistline, the first corsets were made of linen and known by the term cotte. The cotte eventually made its way to Britain and evolved, so that it was now fashioned from fabric and strips of wood, bone, or horn that provided extra support.
By the mid-19th century, corsets had become extremely cinched around the waist due to a rise in popularity of the hourglass silhouette. Initially, these waist-cinching corsets were only worn by the aristocracy and the upper classes, but the invention of the sewing machine in 1830 meant corsets became mass-produced and could now also be adopted by the working classes. Although there was an increasing amount of literature being written about the harmful effects of corsets on the body, corsets continued to be worn throughout the 19th century.
As 1920 and 1930 approached, so did the advent of flapper dresses, and the design of the corset gradually lengthened and transformed into what we now refer to as the girdle. The corset became much more longline, shaping the figure to appear slender and straighter. Although the design and structure of corsets continued to change over the 20th century, they were still worn by the masses up until the 1960s.
The Corset is Split
Even though corsets remained in fashion throughout the early 20th century, French inventor Herminie Cadolle actually created the corselet gorge -- the divided corset -- in the late 1890s. The corselet gorge consisted of an upper structure that provided support to the bust area, and a lower half that resembled modern-day underwear.
Not only are we incredibly grateful for Cadolle’s invention, but we’re also pretty excited about the fact that she was female! Cadolle was a pioneer for women all over and is credited with creating the first lingerie that was functional, wearable, and free of corset-induced aches and pains.
In 1907, the brassiere found its way to America. It was first depicted on the cover of Vogue, and the word “brassiere” was then added to the Oxford English dictionary in 1911.
Then, in 1914, a New York socialite known as Mary Phelps Jacobs created the first modern-day bra by sewing two handkerchiefs together. She wore her creation to a party, and it was the talk of the town, with Jacobs boasting about how free and easy her invention made her feel. Jacobs eventually sold her patent for $1500, and the brassiere as we know it was born!
(As with Herminie Cadolle, we’re pretty excited about the fact that Mary Phelps Jacobs was a female inventor. Trusst is a company for women by women, and we’re inspired by the fact that the history and development of the bra traces back to females across centuries!)
Around the same time as Jacobs’ bra debut in the U.S., favor was gradually shifting away from an hourglass figure and towards the flat, straight line we’ve come to associate with the Roaring 20’s. This was occurring for a number of reasons: Firstly, the steel that was used in corsets was now being redirected towards World War I efforts. Secondly, dresses (like the aforementioned flapper dress) were being cut to flatter boyish figures that made the use of traditional corsets unideal. Women gravitated towards a more androgynous, flat-chested look and, although they could also opt for a girdle, began to purchase bandeau-style brassieres that were far more comfortable and breathable than corsets.
By the 1930s, the term brassiere had been shortened to “bra,” and bras were being mass produced for the lower classes. During this decade, cup sizes were also introduced, with alphabet letters corresponding to breast size.
Torpedo-Style Bras are Born
In the 1940s, the traditional bra transformed into a torpedo-style bra. The reason for its popularity may be more unusual than you think: During World War II, women were employed to work on production lines while the men went off to war. Companies claimed that the points on torpedo-style bras offered working women additional protection, in addition to boosting morale.
The Push-Up Bra Comes to Be
Throughout the 1950s, the torpedo-style bra metamorphosed into a fuller silhouette thanks to the rise of icons like Marilyn Monroe. By 1964, the Wonderbra -- what we now know as the push-up -- was born, marketed for its seemingly-magical ability to lift breasts and enhance cleavage.
The Invention of the Sports Bra
The sports bra wasn’t actually invented till 1977! Initially known as the “jockbra”, the sports bra was invented by another female, Lisa Lindahl, who created the first sports bra out of two jockstraps to give her better support when running.
Bras Evolve throughout the 90’s
The 90s was a momentous decade for bras. In 1990, Madonna sported a conical bra similar to the torpedo bras of the 1940s on her Blonde Ambition Tour, and so she began a trend of lingerie as a fashion statement.
In 1994, the Wonderbra gained international popularity and became a bestseller, and in 1996, Victoria’s Secret capitalized on the bras-as-fashion movement via the creation of their Fantasy Bras. Overall, bras became a whole lot glitzier and glamorous throughout the 1990s.
As the 2000s rolled around, so did a new era of comfort, style, and affordability. The early 2000s saw the creation and popularization of styles like strapless and one-strap bras, and by 2010, bras were beginning to be designed with the wearer’s comfort in mind. This led the way to the birth of innovative new technology like our BAST™ system that was designed to provide support and to cater to breasts of all sizes.
Although we’re appreciative of every step it took to arrive at where we are now, we’re very grateful that we’re finally at a time when women can embrace their natural breast (and waist) sizes and find bras that are uniquely tailored to their own curves. At Trusst, we’re always committed to taking the invention of the bra further so that we can continue to bring women the comfort and support they deserve. We hope you’ll wear your Trusst bra with a newfound appreciation for its rich history -- and that you’ll browse our selection online or at our Pittsburgh headquarters to find your new revolutionary, high-tech D+ bra today!