History of the bra

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Panache Lingerie

Every morning all over the world women are being supported by a bra, be it a smoothing t shirt bra, a plunging push up or a simple strapless. We all wear them and rely on them to give us the perfect silhouette under our carefully selected clothing. But have you ever stopped for a moment to marvel at what a journey our faithful friend has made from its infancy on a strip of muslin to strap you down, to the modern day marvels of temperature control material. Here is a whistle stop history of the bra.

If I take you back to pre-1900, there is very little evidence of a ‘bra’ as such although the corset, which dates back to 1506, was a hugely popular garment created to sculpt the body into the ideal shape for the fashions of the time, slim waist, rounded hips and the classic cleavage.

However in 1889, in a small town in France, Herminie Cadolle had begun to design and create a two part corset, offering the first ‘Bra’ it appeared in a corset catalogue as a ‘corselet gorge’ which was described by Herminie as being “designed to sustain the bosom and supported by the shoulders” and thus the bra was born.

Following a mention in Vogue in 1907 and an official entry into the Oxford English Dictionary in 1910 the development really picked up speed. By the start of the First World War, women had realised the limitations of the new Brassiere and began to alter it to fit their needs, removing the straps and stitching the bra into the lining of their uniform for ease and comfort.

Fast forward to the 1930’s and rather than simply being a practical item of clothing more thought and consideration went into the aesthetics. The 40’s saw the introduction of startling improvements in materials, structure and most of all colour and patterns. Jane Russell became the first poster girl for the modern bra as a ‘Sweater Girl’ and promoted the ideal of ‘lift and separate’ made famous in the movie Outlaw.

In 1964 we welcomed the ‘Wonder Bra’ into the world, a whole new way of supporting the breasts in a much more sensual way. Less about the practicalities and much more about the aesthetics. This was the moment the world of bras went from a simple necessity to a must have fashion piece with the creation of Victoria’s Secret in March 1977 and the sports bra a mere 2 months later.

Now we have iconic bra moments like Madonna in her Jean Paul Gaultier on her Blond Ambition tour, Eva Herzigova Wonder Bra poster campaign that seductively said “Hello Boys” and of course the launch of Panache Lingerie.

So what’s your ultimate bra moment?

History of the bra