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The evolution of the bra from ancient Egypt to now


We have a love-hate relationship with our bras.

Sometimes they're incredibly useful but at other times, we wish we didn't have to feel so restricted. Either way, for majority of the western world's female population, bras have become the norm and a necessity.

But that wasn't always the case; the modern-day brassiere has been around for less than 150 years. 

In a new infographic created by The Huffington Post, who have partnered with Hologic's 'Genius' 3D Mammogram as part of Breast Cancer Awareness month, the true history of the bra has been revealed.

A bra from 1966

A bra from 1966

Looking as far back as Ancient Egypt, the data indicates that women would have gone bare-breasted under their tunics, with no discernible under garments. 

During the Roman Empire, women began to wear breast bands to ensure their breasts didn't sag as they got older. 

Only in the 16th century, thousands of years later, was some sort of breast support invented, in the form corsets. The fashion in those times was for women in the aristocracy to have their waists small and their busts pushed up and out. 

Finally, in 1866 the first bra was invented in the UK, and was made of silk and wire.

Over in France, in 1869, the clothing designer Herminie Cadolle cut a corset into two separate undergarments. The top one, which supported the breasts, came to be known as the soutien-gorge.

Jumping to the 20th Century, Mary Phelps Jacobs invents the modern day bra in New York in 1910. By 1920s, women were wearing bras to flatten, rather than enhance their breasts. 

Marilyn Monroe as a sweater girl

Marilyn Monroe the "sweater girl"

However, the post-war look encouraged women to go the opposite way and adopt the "sweater girl" style, made popular by the likes of Marilyn Monroe, in which women would wear 'bullet bras' to make them look like they had a bigger cup size. 

Other interesting facts include that on average, a woman will spend over £2,500 in their lifetime on bras. 

Take a look at the whole history of the bra in the infographic below.

Click on the image to enlarge

Infographic on the history of the bra


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