Jess Commons | Deputy Editor | Thursday, 10 March 2016

The Evolution Of Bras From 1889 To 2016

The Evolution Of Bras From 1889 To 2016

The Debrief: Props to women from history who had to wear some pretty damned awful things.

Bras are pretty annoying. In fact, some days there's literally nothing better that happens in your day than the minute you get to go home, sit yourself down, unhook that bra clasp and let your puppies hang free.

But, and trust me on this, you've got it easy with bras. See, women in history weren't so lucky. Their boobs were squeezed, flattened, unsupported and even had spikes attached to them. Let's have a look at bras throughout history.


Because if there’s one function you’ve been wishing your modern bra had, it’s 'not rusting'. The stains are getting out of control. 


Fast forward two years and corsets weren’t just rustproof, they also came with the ability to turn you into a walking, talking human version of the electric chair. Spark-tastic. Honestly though, these electric corsets were apparently charged with ‘electro-magnetism’ which solved any number of bodily troubles from paralysis to kidney failure. Supposedly. If only more people knew.


Look at this nifty little number! This rather gorgeous creation is from the time when big boobs were so not in and flappers loved a boyish shape. No word on how well this delicate slip of lace did at supporting ladies who come with anything more than an AA cup though.


These are the ones that had a bit of a comeback a few years ago. I bought one from Topshop in the sale for a fiver. It was so great. Except the boning stuck into my ribs and my right boob kept falling out. For the prices 1930's women were paying for bras though I wouldn’t care if my bra set my nipples on fire. 


Bras, or Boob Hats as they became know for a brief period in 1949, took a sharp turn towards the bizarre on the eve of the second half of the century. Also available for your breasticles were Boob Scarves, Boob Gloves (for just the nipples) and Boob Earmuffs.


Oh hey! Big boobs are back and this time around women had the material to really bolster them up and hold them tight. Like a lovely warm boob hug. Srsly though – this looks excellently supportive and manages to stay stylish. A++ all round.


This is classic Betty Draper; why not take a boat load of prescription drugs, refuse to wear a top, and head out to hail a taxi. Desperate housewife or what?


When your mime outfit isn’t complete without a bra on top.


Again with the long bras. What’s happening here. This poor lady HAS to stand up straight lest she be pierced through the ribs with an errant bone.


Tupperware as bras? Sure why not. Handy because later on she can pull these off, fill them with cat food and give Whiskers his evening meal. How’s that for efficiency?


Bras took on a rather violent look during the 80s. Almost as if they wanted to make the boobs into weapons. Like Britney Spears in Austin Powers. Or Liz Hurley in Austin Powers. Why did womens’ boobs keep trying to kill Austin Powers?


Always troubled me this ad – why was she saying hello ‘boys’ when she’s looking at her boobs? Do her boobs identify as male? If so, what are they doing strapped to the front of a very pretty lady model? And, what are their names?


Is it a bra? Is it a dress? Who gives a damn. She looks fan-freaking-tastic and that’s all there is to it.

 You might also be interested in:

All The Very Worst Trousers You Wore Way Back When

The Trouble With Trying To Dress All 70s

All The Shoes You've Worn In Your Past That You Wish You Could Forget

 Follow Jess on Twitter @Jess_Commons