Should you wear a bra? A 15-year French study says no. The study says bras make your boobs sag. Others propose that bras make your breasts look perky, protect you during exercise, and make you feel secure. But do you know everything there is to know about your bra?
If you’re considering making the bouncy leap into the bra-less world, we’ve got tips. (Not just those kind, either.) We’ve also got bra facts, fit advice, health updates, and the history of the bra. Just in case you want to be the designated bra knowledge keeper on your trivia team.
Your breasts are your buddies. And much to your grandma’s horror, we may be entering the era of side boob and full-on nipples right out there in the open as an every day occurrence. There will be a day where breasts will fail to shock in America. Until then, we’ve got Sweden and France.
Bra-less may be nice, but if you play sports, want to keep your breasts in place, like to enhance them, or you’re a big hugger, you probably want to strap one on. Choosing the right fit and style is an important part of a woman’s fashion. It can make a huge difference in how you feel. So choose well.
Bra or no bra, here’s to the girls. Let’s celebrate them with a few bra facts. Maybe afterwards, you’ll be able to determine if you should wear a bra or not
$16 Billion Was Spent on Bras Worldwide in 2014
American Boobs Have Gotten Bigger
Source: The Laughing Stork
Mary Phelps Jacob Invented Her Version of the Bra Because She Was Sick of Her Corset
Nineteen-year-old Mary Phelps Jacob didn’t want to wear a corset to a debutante ball, a garment she called “boxlike armor of whalebone and pink cordage.” She created a backless brassiere as a substitute. “[The first bra] was basically just two handkerchiefs sewn together, and the bias of the fabric created sort of cups,” says Lynn Boorady, fashion and textile technology chair and associate professor at Buffalo State University. “But it was lightweight [and you would] tie it around your neck. It looks like a halter top bikini, I guess, but not quite so conforming.”
Women may have worn Jacob’s bra at home, but they still felt the societal pressure of wearing their corsets outside of the house. Jacob would change her name to Caresse Crosby (sure, why not) and didn’t pursue any kind of profits from her invention. She sold the patent for her bra to The Warner Brothers Corset Company in Bridgeport, Conn. for $21,000.
Her famous quote about her invention: “I can’t say the brassiere will ever take as great a place in history as the steamboat. But I did invent it.”
That fact is under dispute and many experts agree that the true inventor of the bra is Herminie Cadolle. More about her on this list.
A French Scientific Study Found That Wearing a Bra Makes Your Boobs Saggier
The study found that women gain more tone and supporting breast tissue if no bra was worn. The braless group had a .3 inch-lift in their nipples compared to bra wearers. Bras could possibly hamper circulation and reduce breast tone with time.
British Women Have the Largest Breasts
Source: The Guardian
WWI Made the Bra Popular
Who Really Invented the Bra? Probably French Feminist Herminie Cadolle
Marie Tucek had a version in 1863. It had supporting cups and shoulder straps and was about lift and not coverage as you can see in the diagram. Early bras had a similar design where the point was lifting and not covering the breasts.
Clara P. Clark had an “improved corset” in 1874 that looked much like today’s long-line bra. The design featured a breast pocket system held up by shoulder straps that crisscrossed in the back.
Olivia P. Flynt’s version in 1876 was a bust supporter. Her garment wrapped around the torso, supporting each breast with a fabric pocket. It had shoulder straps that looked more like they belonged on a blouse, rather than the straps of other designs.
In 1885, Charles Moorehouse created an inflatable breast enlargement design with air-filled rubber cups that held each breast.
The largest consensus among experts agree that French feminist Herminie Cadolle actually invented the modern bra in 1889. She sold French underwear in Argentina. Her business was so successful that she traveled the world and was inspired to create something more comfortable than the corset. Her great-great-granddaughter, Poupie Cadolle, still owns and runs Cadolle in Paris.
What about Otto Titzlinger and Philippe Brassiere? There’s more about those guys on this list.
Cup Sizing Was Invented in 1928 by Ida and William Rosenthal
Source: National Geographic
Women Have Been Wearing Bras for Thousands of Years
Bust improvers, a kind of padded structured bra, were worn in 1840. They were also known as cuties, bosom friends, waxen bosoms, lemon loves, pneumatic breasts, and falsies – all great band names.
There was also a reform bodice bra, a kind of healthier bra with mesh net cups that didn’t really give support but it was better than the metal corset.
Sources: Fashion Era, Fact Monster
Flat Was Phat in 1918
The Symington Side Lacer helped flatten the chest to accommodate those fashions. The reinforced bust bodice cinched the chest in tight. Around this time, the word brassière was abandoned for the word bra.
Source: Fashion Era
Dunlop Chemists Transformed Latex in to Materials for the Bra in the ‘30s
Source: Fashion Era
The Kestos Bra Was Queen in the 1930s
WWII Helped Create Utility Bras with Minimal Material
Source: Fashion Era
No One Really Burned Their Bras in the ’60s
Contrary to popular belief, feminists did not burn bras at the 1968 Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City. The protesters carried signs that read, “Let’s judge ourselves as people” and they did crown a sheep as Miss America. They also dumped cosmetics, girdles, and bras into a “freedom trashcan,” but nothing was lit on fire.
Author Susan Brownmiller explains where the bra burning rumor started. “That’s a myth. It was the time of draft-card burning, and some smart headline writer decided to call it a ‘bra burning’ because it sounded insulting to the then-new women’s movement. We only threw a bra symbolically in a trash can.”
Women Who Worked in Factories Wore the SAF-T-BRA During WWII
You Can Recycle or Donate Your braBefore you toss that bra into the bin, there are lots of ways to recycle her. Bras for a Cause supports breast cancer survivors. The Bra Recyclers’ purpose is to recycle 95% of the textiles from bras and donate 45% of it to charity.
Women Made Their Own Bras from Patterns in the ‘40sSisters were doing it for themselves during the ‘40s, as materials were scare and being reserved for the war effort. Using patterns and guidelines from magazines, they made bras from parachute silk and nylon or old satin wedding dresses.
Source: Fashion Era
American Vogue Used the Word Brassiere in 1907Brassiere is French for support. However, the French called the bra soutien-gorge. Rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?
Edwardian Women Called Bras “BBs”The bust bodice would be called a “BB” by 1905.
Source: Fashion Era
Wearing Bras Doesn’t Cause Cancer, No Matter What Some People SayThe American Cancer Society and the Susan G. Komen Foundation have dismissed the connection between bras and cancer. Yet some, like medical anthropologists Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer, damned those dismissals. Their book Dressed To Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras claims that women who wear bras are 125 times more likely to develop breast cancer.They also state that women who only wear bras during the day have a lesser chance of developing breast cancer, but braless is best. So who do you believe? We’ll still with the real doctors on this one. Bras may make your boobs sag, but they WON’T cause cancer.
The Myth of Otto Titzling and Philippe de BrassiereHere’s the popular but false factoid about Tizling and Brassiere, perpetuated by a smart aleck writer:
Titzling lived in a New York Boarding house. He created a bra for his voluptuous neighbor, Swanhilda Ofason. He used cotton, elastic, and metal struts. He didn’t patent his invention. Frenchman Philippe dd Brassiere patented a garment that looked suspiciously like Titzlinger’s in 1930. The way this whole thing got started was with a satiric book written by Wallace Reyburn in 971 called Bust-Up: The Uplifting Tale of Otto Titzling and the Development of the Bra.
You Can Go Bra-less Without Shocking SocietyLet’s say you work in a conservative environment and you still want to eschew the boulder holder. Wear layers. An undershirt, camisole, sweater, a scarf over your top, a jacket, or a sleeveless vest will hide your free lady parts nicely. You can also wear a top with a built-in lining. Crop tops are also a good option. There’s also the bralette.
Or don’t. Let those puppies fly, girl. Find your inner Rihanna.
The Bralette Is a Hybrid of the Camisole and a Thinner Bra
There Are Lots of Advantages to Going Bra-lessHere’s a handy list:
You can wear backless shirts.
Science says you get perkier boobs.
No bra marks!
It’s way more comfortable!
It helps you be more discerning about who you hug.
Getting the Right Bra Fit Is ImportantBuying a bra off the shelf may work for some, but the truth is, the majority of us are doing it wrong.
Eight out of ten women are wearing the wrong sized bra. You have to try the bra on, but most importantly, an expert, or fitter, can help you choose the right bra for you. Even if you only get sized every couple of years, the fitter will help you choose the right fit for maximum comfort.
You can then take that information with you to shop anywhere. They can also help you find a new fit after a mastectomy or other major changes to your breasts. You can usually find bra fitters at major department stores such as Nordstroms, Bloomingdale’s, etc.