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who invented the push up bra

It’s hard to believe that bras (as we know them) haven’t been around that long. In fact, the word “brassiere” was only added to the Oxford English Dictionary a little over a hundred years ago (in 1911). Since the bra was invented, it’s come a long way. Today, there are a slew of different styles to choose from — with underwire and without, with molded cups or unlined cups, full cups and demi cups, and more — all in a wide variety of different colors and fabrics. Arguably one of the most important innovations in lingerie was the push up bra. Not only does it put your cleavage on display, but it provides unparalleled lift and support. There’s a push up bra for every breast size and shape, and it’s a surprisingly versatile style. It serves well under a form-fitting cocktail dress but looks equally stunning under a casual blouse with a plunging neckline.

Did you know that push-up bras are one of the most popular styles? In fact, women rated them the No. 1 Greatest Fashion Invention Ever in one survey, ahead of bootcut jeans, stilettos, and the little black dress. But where did the push up bra come from? Let’s dive into the origins of this well-loved lingerie piece.

Before the push up bra…

The truth is, women have been wearing bra-like garments to cover or restrain their breasts for centuries. According to The Huffington Post, female athletes in ancient Greece donned a strip of fabric that somewhat resembles a bandeau bra during physical activity — it both supported the breasts as well as accentuated them.

Then, corsets were all the rage during the Victorian Age. And finally, in 1914, socialite Mary Phelps Jacob invented the “Backless Brassiere. According to Time Magazine, she came up with the idea while getting ready for a party. She sought a more comfortable undergarment that would be less restrictive than a corset and allow her to dance — so she sewed together two handkerchiefs and some ribbon. It was an instant sensation, and she eventually patented her design.

Related: How To Find The Perfect Push-Up Bra

what is push up bra

Matilda Push Up Bra P53116 | Matilda Hipster P5315 in Nude

A new style makes a splash

One might say the push up look has been around for quite some time — after all, the corsets of the 15th and 16th centuries were designed to push the breasts upward, putting them on display. However, it took some time for the push up bra as we know it to finally come into fruition.

One major milestone happened during the 1930s when cup sizes were introduced. This sizing system meant a more comfortable bra with far more versatility in terms of shaping and accentuation of the bust line. Meanwhile, underwire was slowly becoming mainstream as well, and as such, bras were providing more and more lift.

Then, in 1947, Frederick Mellinger invented the first padded bra, according to Women’s Health Mag. This was a significant innovation: It gave women the ability to add more volume and shaping to their bust lines. But the real breakthrough happened in 1964 when designer Louise Poirier created the Wonderbra for Canadian company Canadelle. The Wonderbra, which was designed with the intention of replacing a girdle, was an instant hit for being both practical and sexy at the same time.

And there you have it. Today, you can find a wide range of push-up bras to meet your unique needs and preferences. Remarkably, though, this style has only been available for a little more than 50 years. There’s no doubt about it: We’re ultra grateful for the invention of the push up bra. Contrary to popular belief, this style isn’t just for smaller breasted women looking to boost their bust line. It’s also just a supremely supportive style that offers incredible shaping and support. Isn’t it about time you added one to your collection?

Related: What Are The Best Push-Up Bras?

where to buy push up bra

Matilda Push-Up Bra P53116 | Matilda Hipster P5315 in Black

We Highly Recommend

Whether you’re shopping for new everyday bras or lingerie for a special occasion, it’s always a good idea to seek out a second opinion. We know how hard it is to find bras that fit well and feel good, especially when you’re doing it on your own. If you’ve ever felt unsure about your bra size or you just don’t know where to go to find good bras, it’s time to let a bra fitter help.

Many specialty lingerie boutiques offer bra fittings. Their expert bra fitters will take the pain and frustration out of bra shopping and do all the work for you. Even better, their product knowledge can save you time and money. Plus, they know where all of the best bras are hiding.

If you’ve struggled with finding bras in the right size, it’s time to make a change. Visit our specialty store locator to find a store near you and schedule an appointment.

Happy bra shopping!

Featured image lingerie:
Matilda Push-Up Bra P53116 | Matilda Hipster P5315 in Black
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Published by

Rebecca Strong

Rebecca is a Boston-based freelance writer who focuses on style, fitness, food, and travel. She has contributed to such publications as HuffPost, Elite Daily and U.S. News & World Report. When she's not writing, she can be found at home or in the studio working on the songs for her upcoming album. Her favorite bra is a black demi-cup style with all-over-lace — timeless and feminine.

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