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bra history who invented the bra
By Alicia Drinkwater on

Bra History: Who Invented the Bra?

  • Lingerie Lowdown

I don’t know about you, but I love a bit of history. I especially love it when it's lingerie-related. Have you ever wondered who invented the bra? Well, wonder no more!

Who Invented the Bra?

Mary Phelps Jacob, better known as Caresse Crosby, is attributed with inventing the first modern bra in 1914 (although the date varies between sources from 1910-1914). Crosby’s bra was produced from two handkerchiefs, designed to be worn underneath an evening dress. Her design wasn’t an immediate success, but by 1917, the bra design was well established as part of women’s underwear.

Whilst Crosby is known as the first person to patent the modern bra, she was also a publisher and activist from New York. In other words, she did everything and was an absolute icon. I’d like to take this moment to thank her for helping boobs all over the world.

Did a Male Invent the Bra?

Surprisingly (because males know everything about lingerie), the inventor of the bra was a woman! Caresse Crosby is credited with the first modern bra design, and by the early twentieth century, bras had gained widespread popularity as they replaced the corset.

Who Was the First Person to Wear a Bra?

Now, we delve back a bit further than the 1900s. There’s artwork from the Minoan civilisation depicting ancient styles of bras, dating back to the 14th Century BC. They display linen or soft leather garments which support the breasts from underneath, pushing them outwards and leaving them exposed. 

So, there’s not a definitive answer as to who was the first person to actually wear a bra, but we can see that civilisations were exploring bra-esque garments a long time ago. Whilst bras have certainly developed a long way from this, it’s fascinating to know that they were being explored so early on.

Why Did Females Start Wearing Bras?

Straight-fronted corsets gained popularity due to fashion trends in the early twentieth century, but a ‘bust supporter’ became an essential for those with larger boobs, as the corset didn’t offer enough support and coverage. 

What is the Purpose of Wearing a Bra?

A bra is designed to support and provide coverage to the breasts, whilst also providing lift and security. Bras have evolved a lot since the 1900s, meaning that there’s loads of different styles and designs, all built with different purposes in mind. However, the main point of a bra is to ensure support, which is why it’s so important to get one that fits properly.

Why is it Called a Bra?

The word ‘bra’ derives from the word ‘brassiere’, which is French for ‘upper arm’. Whilst it’s not one hundred percent clear where this comes from, the general consensus is that it originated with DeBevoise, who used the term to advertise supportive camisoles. 

What Did Girls Wear Before Bras Were Invented?

Some civilisations didn’t wear anything, but others did use cloth to create a bandeau style garment to wear around the breasts. Gradually, women started to wear corsets and girdles, but the primary focus of these was to shape the body (although they did also lift the breasts). It was then in the twentieth century that the modern bra was finally invented!

History of the Bra

So, there you have it. Who invented the bra and everything else in between. 

Were you surprised that bras were only invented just over 100 years ago? Is there anything else I haven’t answered that you’re dying to know? If so, feel free to message us or leave a comment. Whilst we are much more passionate about the benefits of present day bras, we love learning all about the history of them too!

Psst. Did you know? We ship internationally! No matter where you are, we can provide you with your dream bra. Check out our shipping policy for everything you need to know about timings, prices and returns.


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