Monday, July 23

Hoorah for the bra

While I definitely prefer a corset, there is much to be said for the humble bra.

The brassiere has long been thought to be a relatively modern invention, but in 2008 archaeologists working at a castle in Austria discovered evidence of modern-style bras made from linen.

The pictured bra, found in the Lengberg Castle, looks similar to the modern longline brassiere with the cups made from two pieces of linen sewn with fabric extending down to the bottom of the torso with a row of six eyelets for fastening with a lace or string.

The brassiere also has two shoulder straps and is decorated with lace between the cleavage. Using radiocarbon dating, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, estimates the brassiere was from sometime between end of the 14th to the second half of the 15th century.

From the 16th century onwards, the undergarments of wealthier women in the Western world were dominated by the corset. In the latter part of the 19th century, clothing designers began experimenting with various alternatives to the corset.

In 1910 at age 19, Mary Phelps Jacob invented the first modern brassiere to receive a patent and gain wide acceptance.

With metal shortages, World War II encouraged the end of the corset. By the time the war ended, most fashion-conscious women in Europe and North America were wearing brassieres. From there the brassiere was adopted by women in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

But not me.

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