The History Of The Bra (& A Shopping List To Match)

We're approaching the 100th anniversary of the bra, ladies. Though the garment's existed, in some form, since the dawn of breasts, most people consider its "official" debut to be around the time the corset took a turn toward oblivion. As Rowan Pelling writes in a pretty fascinating piece for The Telegraph, that moment was when Mary Phelps Jacob created a makeshift "monobosom" bra out of two silk handkerchiefs and a bit of ribbon. Pelling goes on to chronicle the history of the brassiere through the ages, from WWI and Jane Russell to Madonna and Eva Herzigová. If you love your lingerie as much as we do, it's a must-read.
And, truth be told, reading about the evolution of our favorite undergarment got us in the mood to shop. So, as an accompaniment to your Sunday reading, why not do a little Sunday browsing? We've put together eight bras that illustrate Pelling's history lesson — all available for your impulse-buying pleasure. (The Telegraph)
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Jacobs' original invention was a last-minute lovely fashioned from some bits of silk and ribbon. This is what we imagine it would look like...

Damaris Narnia Silk Tulle V Naked Bra, $130, available at Journelle.
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But it was apparently designed to give a fashionable "monobosom" look, so this is probably more accurate.

Fortnight Lingerie Lyra Bandeau, $88, available at Lille Boutique.
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Corsets officially became uncool when women were asked to abandon them for the war effort in the late 1910s. Because the boyish, beanpole shape was in, the Symington Side Lacer came into being — a boning-free departure from the corset that still allowed women to tie down their breasts for the desired shape.

Free People Secret Garden Lace Bra, $38, available at Free People.
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Maidenform offered one of the first two-cup bras with wiring. This little number has a similarly silky, pinup-girl vibe.

Jean Paul Gaultier Vintage Cropped Bustier, $475, available at FarFetch.
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The push-up bra has been around since the '50s, and according to Pelling, Howard Hughes even used his engineering skills to design one for actress Jane Russell. Today, mega-cleavage-makers are best found at your local Victoria's Secret.

Victoria's Secret Very Sexy Push-Up Bra, $48-$62, available at Victoria's Secret.
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The familiar bullet shape was a ubiquitous trend for years. It even had the staying-power to come back in the late '80s, courtesy of Madonna. It's only a matter of time before it pops up on the runway again!

What Katie Did Cabaret Bullet Bra, $72, available at What Katie Did.
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Earlier models may have been made with more rudimentary materials, but on the tail end of the 1950s, Playtex debuted a high-tech, super-comfy version of what we'd now call a T-shirt bra.

Only Hearts Second Skins Underwire Bra, $44, available at Shopbop.
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The '90s brought the miracle of the Wonder Bra, and Eva Herzigová's drop-dead sexy "Hello Boys" ad campaign made black lace a must-have for any underwear drawer.

Cosabella Onyx Lace Bra, $82, available at Anthropologie.