Who invented the bra?

Bikini-like breast-bands are known to have been around in the ancient world.

Who invented the bra? © Getty Images

But, in 2008, archaeologists investigating a rubbish pit in Lengberg Castle, Austria, discovered a cache of clothing, including underpants and four very modern-looking ‘bras’, complete with ‘bags’ – what we would call ‘cups’.

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Carbon dating shows the bras were worn sometime between 1440 and 1485. In 1889, a German woman, Christine Hardt, received a patent for a modern bra.

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However, in 1914 socialite Mary Phelps Jacob famously patented an invention she’d created from some handkerchiefs and a piece of pink ribbon one night before going out. This ‘backless brassiere’ became the basis for the bras we know today.

This article was first published in the February 2016 issue of History Revealed. Answered by one of our Q&A experts, Sandra Lawrence. For more fascinating Q&A’s, pick up a copy of History Revealed –available in print and for digital devices.