Mary Phelps Jacob

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Mary Phelps Jacob

Inventor of the Bra

In the early twentieth century, elegant women wore corsets, which were very uncomfortable with metal whalebones that were tightened with strings. Their purpose was to squeeze the waist and raise the bust, which was neither comfortable nor healthy.

In 1913, the New Yorker Mary Phelps Jacob was putting on an elegant evening gown, but her corset poked out, so she improvised the first bra with two white silk handkerchiefs, a ribbon and some thread. Afterwards, she patented it and later sold the patent rights tithe Warner Brothers Corset Company.

Although women burned their bras in the 60s as a symbol of women’s liberation, this garment was originally invented to free women from the corset and its harmful effects on their health.