The Bra Celebrates 100 Years: 14 Most Memorable Moments (PHOTOS)

Lisa Fogarty | Feb 24, 2014 Beauty & Style

Happiest of birthdays to the bra! The undergarment that holds our "girls" in place, keeps our clothing looking sleek, and is probably indirectly responsible for the birth of at least a few million babies throughout modern history, turns 100 today. To be fair, the very first bra-like contraption, which looked and felt more like a torture device, dates way back to the 14th century, but women are breathing easier these days thanks to New York socialite Mary Phelps Jacob, who patented the design for a more comfortable backless bra on this date in 1914.

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Since its inception, the brassiere has been reinvented and reimagined so many times it barely resembles Jacob's original concept, which basically consisted of two handkerchiefs tied in the back with a ribbon.

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Here's a look back at 14 of the most memorable moments in the history of the bra.

 

 

Image via Victoria's Secret

  • The Corset

    1

    As constricting as it was, it wouldn't be proper not to give props to the corset -- which pretty much started it all. This laced bodice reached the height of its popularity during the Victorian Era, but stuck around during the early 1900s, as well.

  • Maidenform Introduces Cup Sizes

    2

    Mary Phelps Jacob created a looser, more comfortable bra, but Maidenform can take credit for introducing cup sizes in the 1920s. Thank goodness. Can you imagine having to wiggle your D cups into an all-purpose, one-size-fits-all bra?

  • The Nursing Bra Makes Its Debut

    3

    The post World War II baby boom inspired an invention that moms have been thanking their lucky stars for since: the nursing bra. This bra grows with mom and allows for simple breastfeeding without having to remove a single strap.

  • First Padded Push-Up Bra

    4

    Is it any surprise that the first padded bra was introduced by Frederick's of Hollywood, a company that is synonymous with extremely sexy lingerie? Created in 1947, the padded push-up bra was, and remains, a miracle undergarment for ladies that want a little more oomph up there.

  • Wonder Woman Gives Us a Bra of Steel

    5

    In the 1940s, Wonder Woman was created by DC Comics and has since served as the number one most kickass female comics character in history. If you need proof, just have a look at her costume, which includes a brassiere/bustier made of steel.

  • The Bra Goes Hollywood

    6

    There's a well-known rumor that Marilyn Monroe wore a bra to sleep every night to avoid sagging. She also reportedly placed marbles in her bra so her breasts would look more..pert. Whatever you think of her odd habits, you have to admit: Marilyn was one of the greatest ambassadors for the bra that ever stepped foot in Hollywood.

  • The Training Bra Gives Dads Everywhere a Heart Attack

    7

    Teenagers began creating their own separate culture in the 1950s, which is coincidentally the same decade when the training bra was invented. This brassiere is usually lightweight and cup-less and meant to "train" young girls who are just developing for what will be 70 or so more years of wearing bras. You gotta wonder if girls were as embarrassed by them back then as they continue to be these days.

  • Late 1960s: The Best Bra is No Bra At All

    8

    Women fighting against the establishment preferred their bodies in their natural states and just said no to the bra in the late 1960s. The most famous example of the anti-bra movement took place in 1968, when feminists protested the Miss America pageant by throwing their bras in garbage cans.

  • The Sports Bra Helps Women Reach Their Athletic Potential

    9

    The sports bra was invented in the 1970s, when a nationwide fitness craze took hold among women. Women were able to go jogging, join a gym, and -- basically, do anything the boys could do -- without fearing they'd kill their chests every time they jumped up.

  • Madonna Brings Back the Cone Bra

    10

    For her 1990 Blonde Ambition tour, Madonna put her faith in designer Jean Paul Gaultier and his unique vision resulted in a conical bra that seemed dangerous and sexy. And plain perfect for the Queen of Pop.

  • Austin Powers' Fembots Prove Bras Can Be Deadly

    11

    There were several memorable moments in the 1997 film Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, but few beat the fabulous scene when the Fembots were introduced -- guns blazing from their brassieres and all.

    Relive the memory by watching this clip from the film.

  • Katy Perry Proves The Sky's The Limit When It Comes To Bra Design

    12

    Before Katy Perry changed her wardrobe and fell in love with John Mayer, you would barely recognize her if she weren't clad in a bra that was shooting fireworks or designed to resemble dessert. In this clip from her California Gurls music video, she and her back-up dancers rock outrageous bras inspired by cupcakes and candy.

     

  • Victoria's Secret Makes Bras No Human Can Either Afford or Wear

    13

    In order to drum up interest in its live fashion show (as if it needs that), Victoria's Secret debuted its first Fantasy Bra in 2000 -- sending Gisele Bundchen out on the runway in a $15 million ruby and diamond bra. Since then, models like Miranda Kerr and Adriana Lima have worn the incredible and ridiculously opulent bras, which are almost always dripping with diamonds.

  • The Anti-Wrinkle Bra

    14

    Welcome to the future! Imagine a bra that promises to help eliminate cleavage wrinkles while you sleep. The Anti-Wrinkle Effect Bra by NightBra marries technology with design and vows to do just that.

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