Q:

When were bras invented?

A:

Quick Answer

Mary Phelps Jacob, a New York socialite, received a patent for the "Backless Brassiere", the precursor to the modern bra, on Nov. 3, 1914. She created it using two handkerchiefs and a ribbon after buying a sheer evening dress that was unsuitable for wearing with a whalebone corset.

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Full Answer

Although Mary Phelps Jacob patented the modern bra, several other designers created similar garments before 1914. George Frost and George Phelps patented an "under-outfit" without bones, eyelets, laces or pulleys in 1875, and Marie Tucek patented the "breast supporter," which featured over-the-shoulder straps, pockets for the breasts and hook-and-eye closures, in 1893.

With the outbreak of World War I, the U.S. War Industries Board requested that women stop buying corsets because the metal was needed for the war effort. Approximately 28,000 tons of metal became available, and bras replaced corsets.

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