Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Learning Lingerie: The Bra in Brief

The first bra I ever had was, well... not very fun.

If you keep up with our blog and know anything about Poupee Russe, you know I've got an uncontrollable obsession with all things pretty, lacy, colorful and embellished. That obsession didn't start at adulthood, so naturally when my mother took me to buy my first bra, it was an experience ripe with disappointment and shattered hopes. Plain cotton? UGH. My very unreasonable (or so I thought at that moment) mother wasn't having her daughter swathed in satin and lace at such a young age. And at that young age, how could I comprehend the reasons?

We each have our own tales to tell about buying our first brassiere. The experience is a rite of passage for the modern female, signaling her entry into womanhood.

Early Minoan women wearing bra-like garments (via)

Surprisingly, the bra (in some form or another) has been a part of a woman's wardrobe for quite some time. Early Minoans are believed to have used a bra-like device to compress and support the breasts of female athletes. Art among the ruins of Pompeii shows women wearing bandeau style tops. Another bra-like device arose during the Ming Dynasty, and was worn by wealthier women. Later, in the 16th to 19th centuries, corsets dominated the shaping of the bustline in western cultures. The bra we know and love first became commonplace in the early 20th century and began to be mass produced in the 1930's as steel shortages encouraged the demise of the corset. Short chemises (what closest resembles a modern day bralette) were also worn in the 1920's as part of a woman's undergarment or sleepwear. Our modern concept of the cup construction became commonplace in the 1910's. (via)

A few fun tidbits:
  • According to a survey of bra size conducted by Triumph, the UK has the highest percentage of D cup sizes (57%) out of 10 other European countries.
  • In 2000, the average bra size of American women was 36C. It is now 36E. (via)
  • The idea of the cup size was invented in 1935. (via)
  • The most popular bra color is white.
  • Some bras consist of 40 or more parts (in the case of Prima Donna - 50!) to assemble.
Got questions for us about lingerie? Ask away!

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