General Knowledge

How the bra was invented | Moments of Vision 1

In a Moment of Vision… It’s the 1920s. Flapper fashion prevails. Woman conceal their figures in straight-sided gowns and restrictive bandeaus. A dressmaker named Ida Rosenthal is frustrated by the way falsely flat chests look beneath her structured dresses so she, her husband William, and business partner Enid Bissett develop a line of intimate apparel that accentuates the curves. The design consists of two cups, shoulder straps, and a chest band that clasps in back.

At first, the bras are included with the sale of a dress, but the popularity of the undergarment soon outstrips that of the garment itself. The three establish a business selling exclusively bras and call it Maidenform. William, in a moment of vision, invents a graduated, standardized cup-sizing system that accommodates women of all ages and all shapes.

During the female liberation bra-burning era of the 1960s, Ida Rosenthal is asked to comment on the downfall of the brassiere industry. She answers simply, “After age 35, a woman hasn’t got the figure to wear no support. Time is on my side.”

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