I've been trying to look something up on glowing green snow for Corey all night.
While that's going on, I give you the history of the bra:AN "UPLIFTING" STORYMother of Invention
Who invented the bra? Through the 1800's, a number of people patented items of intimate apparel for women, but most were just extensions of the corset. In 1893, Marie Tucek was granted a patent on a crude "breast supporter," which had a pocket for each breast, straps that went over the shoulders, and a hook-and-eye fastener in the back.
But the modern bra was really born 20 years later. The fashion of the early 1910's was to flatten the breasts for a slim, boyish figure; the fashion also favored plunging necklines. In 1913, a Manhattan debutante named Mary Phelps Jacobs became very frustrated when her chest-flattening corset kept peeking out above her plunging neckline. "The eyelit embroidery of my corset-cover kept peeping through the roses around my bosom," she wrote later in her autobiography, The Passionate Years
. The sheerness of her Paris evening gown was ruined by the lumpy, bulky corset.What's A Debutante to Do?
In frustration, she and her maid designed an undergarment made of two handkerchiefs and some ribbons that were pulled taut. "The result was delicious. I could move more freely, a nearly naked feeling, and in the glass I saw that I was flat and proper."
Showing off her invention in the dressing rooms of society balls, she had her friends begging for brassieres of their own. Jacobs actually sewed and gave away many bras as gifts. But when strangers started accosting her, requesting the brassieres and offering money, Jacobs went to see a patent attorney. (she had her maid model the garment discreetly over the top of her uniform, so that the patent attorney could see what it would look like)
A patent was granted, and Jacobs opened a small manufacturing facility. She called her invention the "backless brassiere." It was the first ladies undergarment to dispense with corset-stiffening whalebone, using elastic instead. Jacobs sold a number of her brassieres under the name "Caresse Crosby," but for all her ability as a designer, she had no marketing instincts. Sales of the Caresse Crosby brassiere were flat and she soon shelved the business.
A few years later, she bumped into an old boyfriend who happened to mention the fact that he was working for the Warner Brothers Corset Company. Jacobs told him about her invention and at his urging, showed it to his employers. They liked it so much, they offered to buy the patent for $1500. Jacobs took the money -- she thought it was a good deal. So did Warner Brothers Corset Company... they went on to make some $15 million from Jacobs' invention.Maidenform
Ida and William Rosenthal, two Russian immigrants, came to America penniless and set up a dressmaking business in New York with a partner, Enid Bissett. The three were constantly dissatisfied with the way dresses fit around the female bosom, so in frustration -- and perhaps in rebellion to the popular flat-chested look of the flapper -- they invented the first form-fitting bra with separate "cups." And since all women are not built equally, Ida invented cup "sizes."
The Rosenthals gave up the dress shop in 1922, and started the Maidenform Brassiere Company with a capital investment of $4500. Four years later, they had 40 machines turning out mass-produced bras. Forty years later, they had 19 factories producing 25 million bras annually. Some of their innovations:
1. The "uplift bra," patented in 1927.
2. The "training bra." (no word on what they were in training for)
3. The "Chansonette bra," introduced in 1949. It had a cone-shaped cup stitched in a whirlpool pattern. The bra, which never changed shape, even when it was removed, was quickly dubbed the "Bullet Bra." Over the next 30 years, more than 90 million were sold worldwide.
When William died in 1958, Ida carried on and continued to oversee the company until her own death in 1973 at the age of 87. The Maidenform corporation, which started with 10 employees, now has over 9000.Playtex
Another major contributor to the development of the bra was Abram Nathaniel Spanel, an inventor with over 2000 patents... including one for a garment bag designed so that a vacuum cleaner could be hooked up to it to suck out moths. In 1932, Abram Spanel founded the International Latex Corporation in Rochester, New York, to make latex items such as bathing caps, slippers, girdles, and bras, sold under the name Playtex.
Playtex was very aggressive with its advertising. In 1940 -- an era when underwear ads in print publications were primarily discreet line drawings -- Playtex placed a full-page ad in Life
magazine with photos of models wearing Playtex lingerie alongside a mail-in coupon. Women responded: 200,000 sales were made from the ad. And in 1954, Playtex became the first company to advertise a bra and girdle on TV. Those garments -- the Living Bra and Living Girdle -- remained part of the line for 40 years.
In 1965, Playtex introduced the Cross Your Heart Bra. Today, it remains one of the best-known brands in the United States and is the second bestselling brand of Playtex bra, with the 18-Hour Bra filling out the top spot.Howard Hughes
The tycoon and film producer also had his hand in creating a bra. In 1941, he was making a movie called The Outlaw
, starring his 19-year-old "protégé," Jane Russell. Filming was going badly because the bras Russell wore either squashed her breasts or failed to provide enough support to prevent her from bouncing all over the screen.
According to legend, Hughes designed an aerodynamic half-cup bra, so well reinforced that it turned Russell's bosom into a veritable shelf. Censors had a fit. 20th Century-Fox postponed the release date due to the controversy. Millions of dollars stood to be lost, so rather than back down, Hughes went all out. He had his people phone ministers, women's clubs, and other community groups to tell them exactly how scandalous this film was. That prompted wild protests. Crowds of people insisted the film be banned. The publicity machine launched into full gear, and when the film was finally released, it was a guaranteed hit.
On opening night, Hughes hired some skywriters to decorate the Hollywood skies with a pair of large circles with dots in their centres. Jane Russell, an unknown before the film, became a star overnight. Years later, she revealed in her autobiography that she had found Hughes' bra so uncomfortable that she had only worn it once... in the privacy of her dressing room. The one she wore in the movie was her own bra. No one -- not even Hughes -- was the wiser.The Very Secret Bra
An inflatable bra introduced in 1952, it had expandable air pockets that would help every woman achieve "the perfect contour." The bra could be discreetly inflated with a hidden hand pump. Early urban myth: these inflatable bras sometimes exploded when ladies wore them on poorly pressurized airplanes.The Jog Bra
Hinda Miller and Lisa Rosenthal were friends who enjoyed jogging, but didn't like the lack of support their normal bras offered. Lingerie stores had nothing better to offer them, so they decided to make their own. In 1977, they stitched together two jockstraps and tested it out -- it worked. Their original prototype is now displayed in the Smithsonian.
In 1978, the two inventors sold $3840 worth of their bras to sporting apparel stores. In 1997, Jogbra sales topped $65 million.The Wonderbra
Originally created in 1964 by a Canadian lingerie company named Canadelle, the Wonderbra was designed for lifting and supporting the bustline while it also created a deep plunge and push-together effect, without compressing the breasts. Even naturally flat-chested women could achieve a full-figured look. The bra was popular in Europe, but wasn't even sold in the United States because of some international licensing agreements.
In 1991, fashion models started wearing Wonderbras they had purchased in London. Sara Lee Corporation (yes, the cheesecake company), who by then had purchased Playtex, bought the license to the Wonderbra and began marketing it aggressively. They spent ten million dollars advertising the new product, and it paid off. First-year sales peaked at nearly $120 million. By 1994, the Wonderbra was selling at the rate of one every 15 seconds for a retail price of $26.Booby PrizesHighest-Tech Bra:
A British inventor has come up with a bra that contains a heart rate monitor, a Global Positioning System, and a cell phone. If the wearer is attacked and her heart rate jumps dramatically, the phone will call the police and give her location as determined by the GPS. The electronic components in this "Techno-Bra" are removable for laundry day.Most Expensive Bra:
For $15 million, you can buy a Victoria's Secret bra inset with over 1300 gemstones, including rubies and diamonds. (with matching panties)Most Cultured Bra:
Triumph International, a Japanese lingerie firm, created a bra to honor Mozart on the 200th anniversary of his death. It plays 20 seconds of his music every time it's fastened, and has lights that flash on and off in time to the beat. But perhaps in keeping with Mozart-era hygiene, the bra isn't washable.Smelliest Bra:
In 1998, French company Neyret announced that it was marketing a bra that would release some scents when stretched or caressed. The available aromas included apple, grapefruit, and watermelon.Biggest Celebrity Bra Collection:
If you're in Los Angeles, visit the Frederick's of Hollywood Bra Museum. It has such items as the bra Tony Curtis wore in Some Like It Hot
; the bra Milton Berle wore on his TV show; and Phyllis Diller's training bra, marked "This side up."Biggest Bra:
The Franksville Specialty Company of Conover, Wisconsin, manufactures bras for cows in order to prevent them from tripping over their udders. The bras come in four sizes and are available in only one color: barnyard brown. Design extra: The bras for cows do keep the udder warm.Cleverest Dual-Purpose Bra:
When public opinion turned against her, former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos reportedly wore a bullet-proof bra.
"When women's lib started, I was the first to burn my bra and it took three days to put out the fire." -- Dolly Parton
* from Uncle John's Supremely Satisfying Bathroom Reader (#14)
, pp. 167-171
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