Bras through history

  • Updated: May 15, 2013 - 1:16 PM

Pop singer Madonna donned a conical bra for her Blond Ambition tour.

Photo: Gill Allen • Associated Press,

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1914: New York socialite Mary Phelps Jacob invents the modern bra with two handkerchiefs and a pink ribbon to create the “backless brassiere.” She eventually sells her patent to Warner Brothers Corset Co.

1918: World War I proves a boon to the shift from corsets to bras, since the 28,000 tons of metal used annually in corset production is enough to build two battleships.

1922: The new Maidenform company creates a bra with discernible cups.

1947: Frederick Mellinger — yep, of Hollywood — introduces the first padded bra. The next year, he markets the first push-up bra, the Rising Star.

1968: Feminists protest the 1968 Miss America pageant, calling bras “instruments of female torture.” Police keep any bras from being torched, but the term “bra burners” enters the language.

1977: Lisa Lindahl and Polly Smith take two jock straps and invent the first sports bra, the Jogbra. Coincidentally, Victoria’s Secret is founded the same year.

1990: Madonna dons a Cone Bra by Jean Paul Gaultier for her Blond Ambition tour.

1994: Wonderbra comes to the United States from the United Kingdom. Tagline: “Hello boys.”

2000: Gisele Bundchen models the $15 million Red Hot Fantasy Bra made from red satin and hand-cut Thai rubies and diamonds.

2003: California artist Emily Duffy completes the BraBall — 18,085 bras hooked together in a ball 5 feet tall and weighing 1,800 pounds. Twine, hah!

2011: Bra manufacturers react to rising breast sizes with ever-larger cups from the usual A, B, C and D. In the United States, we’re up to N.

Source: Women’s Health,,


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