The Evolution of Women’s Bras

Throughout history, women have used garments to support, conceal, restrain, and modify the appearance of their breasts. Artifacts from the Minoan culture in Greece and 14th-century BCE Italy, for example, show that they wore bra-like garments. By the early 20th century, two parallel movements drove the evolution of the modern bra: health professionals worried about the cruel, constraining effects of the corset and a clothing reform movement of feminists who saw that greater participation for women in society would require emancipation from its constraints.

Herminie Cadolle of France invented the first modern bra in 1889. She advertised it in a corset catalog as a “corselet gorge” and later as a soutien-etre (or “support the bosom”). Cadolle’s invention divided the traditional corset into two, creating the lower part for the waist and the upper for the breasts.

Today, there are countless bra sizes, colors, fabrics, styles, and patterns, with new shapes and designs popping up all the time. A few decades ago, the baby boom created a demand for maternity and nursing bras, while television boosted the bra’s popularity.

The bra is the most commonly worn lingerie item for women in the world. In the United States alone, women wear 3.8 billion bras every year. Although wearing a bra 24 hours a day isn’t necessarily unhealthy, it can be inconvenient, uncomfortable, and even itchy if the size and fit are wrong for the wearer. It can also impact blood circulation and cause chafing in the bust area, especially if the bra is sweaty or unwashed. women’s bamboo bras

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