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Famous inventions: The bra

Famous inventions: The braWe know from several frescoes (a type of painting) that the Ancient Roman women wore bras to exercise or swim but the modern bra was invented by Mary Phelps Jacob, a New York socialite.

Mary Jacob had just purchased a sheer evening gown for one of her many social events. At that time, the only acceptable undergarment was a corset stiffened with whaleback bones. Mary found that the whalebones poked out around the plunging neckline and could be seen under the light fabric. With the help of her maid she fashioned a basic, backless bras made from two silk handkerchiefs, some pink ribbon, and cord.

Demands from friends and family were high for the new brassiere. When she received a request for a bra from a stranger, who enclosed money for the undergarment, dollar signs flashed in her eyes, Mary grabbed her sketches, and headed straight for the U.S. Patent Office. The Office granted the patent for the "Backless Brassiere" to Mary in November 1914.