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The History Of The Bra
The history of brassieres is inextricably intertwined with the social history of the status of women, including the evolution of fashion and changing views of the body.
Women have used a variety of garments and devices to cover, restrain, or modify the display and shape of their breasts. Brassiere-like or bikini-like garments are depicted on some women athletes in the 7th century BCE in the Minoan era.
Similar functionality could be achieved by both outerwear and underwear.
From the 16th century onwards, the undergarments of wealthier women were dominated by the corset, which pushed the breasts upwards.
In the latter part of the 19th century, various alternatives were experimented with, splitting the corset into a girdle-like restraining device for the lower torso, and transferring the upper part to devices suspended from the shoulder.
By the early 20th century, garments more closely resembling contemporary bras had emerged, although large-scale commercial production did not occur till the 1930s.
Since then bras have replaced corsets, although some women prefer camisoles) and a minority go without. Brassieres are a multi-billion-dollar industry dominated by large multinational corporations. During the 20th century, the emphasis on brassiere usage has shifted from functionality to fashion.