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Is there an item of clothing that has as many associations with femininity as the bra? It’s hard for a woman today to imagine living without one with millions of choices today, but there was a time when women of all sizes had very limited choices. Here’s a tribute to the evolution of the most feminine piece of clothing at all–the bra.

The First Bra

While there is no definite start date to the very first bra, there were many variations of what we would call a bra from different civilizations, in Egypt, Europe, and Asia.

a little rough on the edges

In 2008, experts from the University of Innsbruck in Austria found a 600 year old flax bra in a medieval castle.

The Evolution of the Bra

The first bra prototype was made and patented by Henry Lesher in 1859. In 1930, the first bra was made by Mary Phelps Jacob. After she bought a gown for an evening, she saw that it did not match with her corset, so she took two silk handkerchiefs and some pink ribbons and fashioned the very first bra. After receiving many requests to recreate a bra from her family and friends, she decided that she was onto something and setup her bra business.

In the 1920s, Maidenform made the first bra with discernible cups, and in the 1930s the first padded bra was invented, after a Swedish athlete hurt herself in the breasts with her knee in the 400m race in the 1928 Olympics.

By 1963, the first Wonderbra was invented by Louse Poirier, a Canadian designer. In 1968, the famous bra burning protest of the 1968 took place at the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City.

By 1977 the first sports bra was invented by sewing two jockstraps together, the original name being the jock-bra.

In 1994, a billboard named “Hello Boys” featuring Eva Herzigova in a Wonderbra, was said to be so distracting that it caused a number of car accidents by male drivers.

By 2000, Bioform bras that were stress tested and underwire free were invented. There are many innovations in the bra industry and its history is still being written.