The first patented bra was invented in 1913 by New York socialite Mary Phelps Jacob. She called it a "brassiere," named after the French word for upper arm.
In 1913, the only culturally acceptable undergarment for a woman to wear on her upper body was a corset. The corset was made of whaleback bones and was extremely stiff.
Mary Phelps Jacob bought a sheer evening gown to wear to an event and found that the whale bones visibly poked out from the fabric. With some pink ribbon and two handkerchiefs, she created the bra. Jacob eventually sold her bra patent to Warner, who went on to make $15 million from the patent over the next 30 years.