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What is A Bra & Who Invented The Bra?

what is bra and who invented bra

For almost every woman, bras are an important aspect of their daily lives. They’re like a part of the body, always supporting in all the right ways. There’s no denying most of us have a love-hate relationship with them, swinging between trying to be comfortable and having the right amount of support so clothes look better. But has this question ever struck your mind, how did the bra come into being? Who invented it and how did it evolve into the modern-day bra that we know of today? In this blog, we’ll try to calm your curiosity and find relevant answers to all these questions. 

Who Invented The Bra?

According to credible sources, Mary Phelps Jacob, an American socialite received the patent for the bra we know of today. She wanted to wear a sheer evening gown but her corset kept peaking through it from underneath. To solve the issue, she stitched together two satin handkerchiefs with a ribbon over it. She found that this new-found version was much more comfortable and offered unrestricted movements too. It caught the attention of other women of those times, and they wanted her version of this bra. This led to the formation of Fashion Form Brassiere Company and her invention to be patented under the name Caresse Crosby in 1914.

who invented braEvolution of The Bra

14th Century – The Bronze Age

The first ever recorded ancient version of the bra is from the Minoan civilisation back in the 14th century. Their art depicts a mastoeides, meaning a garment crafted from linen or soft leather that provides support to the breasts from below. 

The Romans had their own version of the bra called the “mamillare” which was a piece of cloth that women wrapped tightly around their chest to cover & support their breasts. 

16th Century

16th century bra

The history of the bra took a serious shift in this century with the introduction of the corsets. Catherine de Medicis, the wife of King Henri II of France is attributed to popularising this piece of garment. The corset lifted the breasts and cinched the waist, to make women appear a certain way which was seen as the ideal body type of those times. The rigidity of the corsets came from long pieces of wood whalebone that were sewn into the cloth. These corsets, however, posed a serious threat to women’s bodies. They had to be tied very tightly, hence contributing to several health risks even involving a rearrangement of the internal organs. Despite this, they remained a popular fashion statement for the next few centuries. 

19th Century 

In 1893, Marie Tucek patented a brassiere that was very similar to the modern version of the bra that we use, but it failed to popularise. A thing called the girdle was popular during the late 19th century. It made the woman’s figure sort of an “S” shape, forcing their torso forward and hips outward. 

20th Century

In 1907, the word “brassiere” was used by Vogue for the first time and was added to the Oxford Dictionary in 1911. During the 1920s, slender and lean body types were seen as the ideal. Hence, most bras that came into being during this century were to de-emphasize the bosom, like the bandeau bra design. This has little to do with offering support to your breasts, instead were to just to contain them. And since it was easy to DIY, it became popular choice among women. 

20th century braIt was back in 1922, that a seamstress named Ida Rosenthal along with her husband William introduced the concept of cup sizes. In the 1930’s the A, B, C & D cup sizing scale was introduced. The 1940s saw the invention of the padded bra by Frederick Mellinger. It was closely followed by the bullet bra which was the most popular trend during the 1950s. The pointy design gave a certain definition to the breasts which became popular for women of varying sizes. The underwired bras invented way back in the 1800s and were widely available in the 1930s, did not make waves until the ‘50s. 

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Know the History of Bra

If you have ever surfed the ‘bra’ wiki corners of internet then would show you that strapless, padded, push-up, silicon, lace are not the only versions of bras that exist. Bullet, corset, handkerchief too are versions of a bra! Amazed? Wait till you get to know the life story of a bra.
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Bras of today

Bras have travelled a long way to evolve into what we know. We have such a wide variety of bras available at the tips of our fingers. Some of them we use on an everyday basis, some we may not even be aware of. New innovations of the same keep coming up even in today’s day & age. Most bras that are designed today prioritises women’s comfort and not fashion, body or other expectations set by the society at large. It is a more inclusive space catering to all identities and forms of bodies.

Mastectomy Bras: These are post-surgery bras for breast cancer survivors. They come with a prosthesis made with either silicone or fabric, resembling the breast. This prostheses goes inside the pocket of the mastectomy bra. These bras are made with soft fabric and help promote healing and compression. These bras play a key part in restoring the natural shape & confidence of the survivors. 

Bralettes: The perfect mix between a crop top and a bra, bralettes are a fashion rage. You can dress them for a casual OOTD or a party outfit or even swap them for blouses with your sarees. Oftentimes, they are made with exquisite fabrics and are even bejewelled for a more fashionable look. 

Nipple Pasties & Silicone Bras: For backless, strapless and swimsuits, things are nipple pasties and silicone bras exist that offer modesty protection without the bulk of wearing a whole bra. They’re washable, reusable and do not pose any risks. 

Anatomy of Bra

anatomy of a bra

Are you puzzled by some of the terms while shopping for bras? That’s okay, various components constitute a bra and these may be quite confusing to some. But, they’re important to understand. You must know the anatomy of a bra, including words like centre gore, underband, G-hook, clasp, hook & eye closure, slider, wings and certain others, where they are located and what purpose they serve. 

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Anatomy of a Bra

Have you ever googled the meaning of some lingerie jargon while trying to shop for bras online? Words like basque, apex, and balconette can be quite confusing, we know! Don’t worry, we’re not judging you! Instead, we’re here to help you understand the anatomy of a bra -the components of a bra.
Know the Anatomy of Bra

Why Do Girls Wear A Bra?

Love it or hate it, bras have become such a vital part of everyday life that it’s hard to live without them. Like a true partner, they support you in all the right ways, never let you fall and boost your confidence. Here’s a few reasons why it’s important to wear a bra:

  1. Offers Support: When you wear a bra, not only do your clothes fit you better, but it also helps in providing essential support. 
  2. Helps Prevent Sagging: While bras do not guarantee that breasts won’t sag, wearing a well-fitted bra can surely help in lifting & prevention, maintaining the natural shape that they have. 
  3. Offers Comfort: Imagine going about your day without wearing a bra, it definitely is quite a task. Your bust will keep hanging and restrict your movements, becoming a reason for discomfort and irritation. 
  4. Acts as a Confidence Booster: With so many different types & styles of bras, giving you a vast variety of options to choose from. There’s a bra for every outfit & occasion and when you pair the right ones, they complement each other. 

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5 Reasons Why Women Need to Wear a Bra

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Busting Bra Myths

Loose-fitting bras are the most comfortable, wearing underwired bras can cause cancer, a well-fitted bra lasts a lifetime. Don’t be confused, we’re not saying these statements are true. But they are quite popular and float around as if they are true. We’ll help you debunk not just these, but some more popular bra myths for you.  

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12 Common Bra Myths

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What is the right age to wear a bra?

right age to wear a braThere is no right age when a girl needs to start wearing a bra. The right age simply does not exist. It differs from woman to woman and when the need arises to wear one. Some girls develop early, some others need to start wearing one as they feel a certain strain during activities or some are simply conscious of the changes in their bodies. Some other girls, even during their late teens, may not experience any discomfort without a bra and hence may not feel the need to wear one. It all depends on the individual’s needs and preferences and the changes in their body.

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How To Measure Bra Size?

how to measure bra sizeMeasuring your bra size is simple. All you need is a mirror, a well-fitted non-padded bra and measuring tape. With our simple guide, you can easily measure your bra size in just a few minutes. Knowing your bra size is beneficial for you in more than one way. Apart from enhancing your overall posture and appearance, it alleviates issues like digging straps, gaping lines, strap slips and many more. 

Bra Size Calculator

To make things simpler for you, here’s Clovia Bra Size Calculator. With this tool, you can find your size to get that perfectly fitted bra. Another thing to note is that your bra size is not permanent, you should check your bra size every 3-6 months since it keeps fluctuating. 

What are Bra Sizes? 

Your bra size is a mix of two measurements- the overbust, which is the fullest point of your bust and the underbust, which is the area right below your breast. The cup essentially describes the volume of your bra cup, this is calculated as the difference between the underbust and the fullest part of your bust(overbust). It’s very essential to wear the right-sized bra in order to get the right support. The straps keep falling, there are gaping lines, you are not getting adequate support, there’s spillage, and more such issues happen when you don’t wear the right size. 

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What are Bra Sizes

Bras are measured using two measurements. The underbust and the overbust. The underbust is the measurement around your ribcage, right below the breast, where your bra band sits. Read on to know more about ABCD in bra sizes
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bra size chartSister Sizes in Bras

Sister bra sizes are alternate sizes where the cup volume stays the same even though the band size and cup letter change. Have you ever tried on a bra that fits perfectly on the cups but the band feels too tight or too loose? Sister sizes to the rescue! Understanding the concept of sister sizes is important and might come in handy while bra shopping. 

How To Wear A Bra

how to wear braJust like those countless videos you come across on an everyday basis that make you realize, “I was today years old when I found out…” There is a proper guide to wearing a bra the right way. You need to have the right posture, ensure that the straps fit right and if its an underwired bra, is it giving the right fit? These are just some of the things, that have to be right. Therefore, a proper guide exists, to help you wear the bra in the right way.  

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How to Wear a Bra Correctly

Ladies, are you surprised by the fact that there is a proper guide to wear a bra? Well, it does exist. There are a couple of things that can possibly go wrong when wearing a bra even when you shop for the correct size. All you have to do is follow a few easy-peasy steps that we’re here to help you with.
Steps to Wear Bra Correctly

Types of Bra

types of brasThere are around 50 different kinds of bras that exist today. Some of these you may know of, some you may use on an everyday basis and some may have completely unheard of. Different kinds of bras were created to serve different purposes. If your outfit has a wide neck, you should go for a balconette bra since it has wide set straps, if it’s an off-shoulder & backless dress, a transparent bra will be the best, nursing mothers use maternity bras with removable flaps for convenient feeding access. These are just a few of the different types of bras to exist. 

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Bra Types Every Girl Should Know

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Bras For Different Occasions

Different bra styles serve different purposes. Most times, women use the same bra for all different occasions and purpose. However, if you were to use the right bra it will only help complement your outfit. 

For Sports & Physical Activities: Normal bras cannot provide you adequate support & compression that’s required durinf physical activity. Hence, you must wear a workout bra that’s specifically designed to fulfil your active needs without restricting your movements. 

For Ethnic Outfits: While wearing a wide neck suit, you can pair with a balconette bra that comes with wide set straps. If you are wearing an off-shoulder choli, you need to pair with a strapless bra. If it’s backless, it needs to be paired with a transparent. 

For Daily Use: Comfort & support are your priorities for daily use. A non-padded bra serves this purpose best. With its double-layered cups, you can also be assured of modesty protection. However, if you need to step out to run some errands, you can also go for a spacer cup bra that prevents the headlight effect, gaping lines and bulky cups. 

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Bra for Different Occasions

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Bras For Larger Bust Sizes

It’s no secret that women with bigger breasts need more support. How do normal bras provide that? Hence, bras like full figure and minimizers were created to offer them unparalleled support as well as comfort. 

Full Figure Bras

full figure brasFull figure bras are designed with higher centre gore, broad underband and straps and broad back band. These ensure that the wearer does not have any discomfort or irritation and gets adequate support. With full figure cups, you can be assured of no spillage. Thin straps can dig into the skin and a thin back band would not be able to provide the kind of support that’s required for larger busts, hence full figure bras combat such issues with their design. 


minimizer braMinimiser bras are designed to offer ultimate compression by re-distributing and reshaping the bust. Thus, by doing so they help in reducing a cup size. Many women with larger breasts feel uncomfortable and aren’t able to confidently wear what they want to. Minimizers reduce breast projection and make the garments fit better. 

Bras For Different Outfits

Wearing just one T-shirt bra with all your outfits? High time you stop doing that. When specific bras are created to serve different purposes, why just stick to one? Instead of swapping normal straps with transparent straps, get a transparent bra with transparent straps and back band which will go with all off-shoulder and backless outfits. Don’t be scared of sporting those deep necklines, wear a plunge bra or a push-up bra to accentuate those deep necklines and get that sexy cleavage. 

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What Bra to Wear Under What Outfit

the good part is that today there are numerous practical bras available for every type of outfit that can help you look as flawless as possible, without compromising on comfort or support that they offer. Read on to know what type of bra you should choose under what outfit to get your outfit game on point.
Bras for Different Outfits
Sara Johnson

Sara Johnson

Content Writer at Clovia
Sara is a literature graduate who's passionate about creating art, be it with words or paints. She weaves words into beautiful patterns that's sure to get you hooked.
Sara Johnson

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