Thursday, March 23, 2006

inner dork: the history of the bra

The history is a tad long. Therefore I am eliminating much of the modern day history and a few centuries.

2000 BC The Corset can be traced back to about 2000 BC. It was open at the front to the waist, leaving the breasts uncovered. Small strips of leather round the waist were used to curve round the outline of the breasts.

2500 BC Back in 2500 B.C., warrior Minoan women on the Greek isle of Crete began wearing a bra-resembling garment, shoving their bare breasts upward and exposed their naked breasts from their clothing!

450BC-285AD The Greeks wore a bodice tied above the breasts, leaving the breasts naked. The wearing of corsets was prohibited so they used "the Apodesme" which was a small band of material wrapped round the breast, largely for functional reasons - to prevent the breasts moving when walking. The Roman women adopted the apodesme as worn by the Greeks, but the name was changed to "mamillare", "fascia" etc. Young women wore the fascia to prevent the growth of their breasts whilst the mamillare was used to conceal a very large breast.

4th Century AD The Chemise first appeared in the 4th century, was made of linen and looked like a tunic. The Chemise was gathered into a round or square neckline. It was frequently embroidered and finished with a frill. At that time they usually had long sleeves and were finished with wrist ruffles.

In France women wore the "Bandeau" after Caesar's conquest of Gaul. In the 12th century women wore the "basquine" which was a sort of corset in rigid fabric surrounding the waist. About a century later the gourgandine (hussy) or bodice is worn on top of a corset.

13th Century AD In the 13th century, women were wearing short bodices that flattened the breasts. Full skirts were attached to raised waistlines to emphasize the stomach. To further emphasize a slender torso, garments had long full sleeves. The purpose was to draw the eye down and away from the breasts. In the 13th century one can read for the first time, in a corsetry shop window, reference to products that - "contain the larger one, supports the weak, gathers the floppy".

14th Century AD Breasts were de-emphasized even further in the 14th century by straight tubular bodices that completely flattened the breasts. Wide full skirts and high ruffled collars drew attention away from the breasts. In the 14th century the belt was worn to support the bust but was not widely worn as it was outlawed in certain parts of France. An edict of Strasbourg dated 1370 states - "no woman will support the bust by the disposition of a blouse or by tightened dress". Under Charles VII the bust is dressed in a triangular drape and by a tight gauze. The corset was worn very tightly and damage was caused to the wearer.

1550s AD In the 1550's women subjected themselves to the torture of whalebone and steel rod corsets. The steel corset is attributed to the wife of King Henri II of France, Catherine de M├ędicis, who banned "thick waists" at court attendances. The corset was designed to be worn tightly, requiring a lot of effort to fasten. It could reduce the waist to less than ten inches, permanently altering the waist size. The corset then became dominant undergarment (in various designs) of support and restraint for the next 350 years.

15th Century AD The 15th century saw breasts becoming a focal point. Bodices and stiffened stays covered and flattened the lower part of the breasts and nipples, whilst pushing up the upper breast. This created cleavage and gave the appearance of high and rounded breasts.

17th Century AD Whilst men had worn washable underwear since ancient times, it was not until the 17th century that drawers were worn by women in France and Italy but it was the early 1800's before they arrived in England "drawers" comes from a lower body undergarment that could be "drawn on". Drawers were often made up as two separate legs only attached at the waist. Crotch-less drawers were a practicality since they were worn under the corset and chemise. The legs finished just below the knee or at mid-calf and were finished either plain or fancy.

1820s A "corset mecanique" was actually invented in the 1820s which allowed women to squeeze into their corsets with the help of pulleys, without having to use the servants. Corsets at the time were made of whalebone, steel or buckram.

1850s US patents registered for first known bra-like devices.
Corsets fall out of style for about 10 years.

1860s Corsets come back in fashion with a vengeance. Severe corset "training" is common which reduces waists to such unhealthy levels that ribs and internal organs become deformed. Controversy over corseting health risks ensues.

1893 Marie Tucek patents the "Breast Supporter". The garment includes separate pockets for each breast, shoulder straps that passed over the shoulders and fastened with hook and eye closures, making it the earliest known design to be similar to modern-day bras.

1907 Vogue magazine first uses the term "brassiere", which comes from the old French word for 'upper arm'. Before this, bra-like devices were known by another French term "soutien-gorge" (literally, "throat support" or "breast support".)

1913 Dissatisfied with the idea of having to wear a heavy corset underneath a new sheer evening gown she just bought for a social event, socialite Mary Phelps Jacob of New York and her maid, Marie, devised a backless bra made from two handkerchiefs, some ribbon and cord. Amazingly she started getting orders for it that very night.

1914 After considerable interest from friends, Mary Phelps Jacob applies for a patent (under the business name "Caresse Crosby") on November 3 for her "Backless Brassiere" design, which is basically the same garment that she previously improvised. This "brassiere" was very lightweight, soft, and separated the breasts naturally. Unlike Marie Tucek's 1893 design, Jacob's garment did not have cups to support the breasts, but flattened them instead. Jacob markets the "Backless Brassiere" garment until she tires of the business and sells the patent to Warner Brothers Corset Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut, for $1,500. Warner's reportedly made over 15 million dollars over the next 30 years from the patent.

1914-1918 World War I forces women into the work-force. Many women begin working in factories and wearing uniforms, making the use of daily corset wear a problem.

1917 The U.S. War Industries Board requests women to stop buying corsets to reduce the consumption of metal. Sources say up to 28,000 tons of metal was conserved through this effort - "enough to build two battleships."

1920s The bra gained popularity and began to be used more commonly during the 1920s. This was the era of the "flappers", and the flat-chested boyish look was all the rage. Warner introduces a tight, chest-flattening bra, that was designed to flatten the breasts, rather than support them.

1928 Ida Rosenthal, a Russian immigrant, and her husband William went into business as the Maidenform Company in the 1920's as a protest against the notorious flat-chested flapper girls of the Roaring 20's. Ida is responsible for the creation of bust size categories (cup sizes) and developed bras for every stage of life - puberty to maturity.


Jay said...

And now... pandas.

The Chinese people call the panda "Da xiong mao," which means "giant bear cat" in Chinese. The panda is a symbol of peace in China.

This bear is quite different from other bears. It has unusual cat-like eyes, and its front paws have an opposable "thumb."

Female pandas are called sows, males are called boars, and the young are called cubs.

Most bears' eyes have round pupils. The exception is the giant panda, whose pupils are vertical slits, like cats' eyes. These unusual eyes inspired the Chinese to call the panda the "giant cat bear."
Pandas have very good eyesight.

Giant pandas are white with black patches around the eyes, ears, shoulders, chest, legs, and feet. This black-and-white coloring may camouflage (hide) the panda in the snowy, rocky environment.

The largest pandas grow to be about 250 pounds (115 kg), about the weight of a large adult human. They are about 5.25 to 6 feet (1.6 to 1.8 m) long. The average adult male panda grows to be about 3 feet (1 m) tall at the shoulder and weighs about 220 pounds (100 kg). The average adult female panda grows to be about 2.5 feet (80 cm) tall at the shoulder and weighs about 180 pounds (80 kg). The panda's tail is about 6 inches (16 cm) long.

Pandas have the most specialized diet of any of the bears. Their diet is almost exclusively two species of bamboo (arrow and umbrella bamboo).

Pandas eat about 40 pounds (18 kg) of food each day. Bamboo is very low in nutrition. Even though the panda eats this plant, it cannot digest it very well and most of the bamboo passes undigested through the digestive tract. It has to eat for up to 12 hours every day in order to get enough nourishment. Its throat and stomach have extra-tough linings to protect them from the tough food.

Other problems with a bamboo diet:

* These bamboo plants only grow in a few places. This limits the range of pandas tremendously.
* Bamboo species go through periodic die-offs after they flower. Most plants in an area die-off at the same time (after flowering). When this happened in the past, pandas would migrate to another area where the bamboo was still flourishing. With the greatly reduced bamboo forests of today, this option is not always available. This leads to periodic starvations among giant panda populations.
In captivity (zoos and breeding centers), pandas eat bamboo, rice cereal, carrots, apples, and sweet potatoes.

Pandas usually eat while sitting in an upright position. Sitting this way, they can use their front paws to hold their food.

Panda front paws are very unusual. These paws have five clawed fingers plus an extra bone that works like an opposable thumb. This "thumb" is not really a finger (like our thumb is). It is really an extra-long wrist bone that works like a thumb.

The panda uses these dextrous paws to grasp its food (bamboo shoots and leaves).

Since pandas spend most of their time eating tough, nutrition-poor bamboo, strong teeth and jaws are very important to a panda's survival. Giant pandas have large molars (flat teeth used for crushing food). They also have a few sharp teeth which they use to bite tough bamboo stalks. Pandas have 42 teeth. They also have strong jaw muscles which they use for chewing tough bamboo.

Pandas have very thick, oily, woolly fur that keeps them warm in their cold, wet mountain habitat. Their fur is made of two types of hairs; there are long, thick, coarse hairs and a shorter, fine, dense underfur. This fur is waterproof.

In the wild, giant pandas only live in a few mountain ranges in central and western China, mainly in Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces.

Because of habitat destruction, the pandas now live in a series of broken ranges. This has created six isolated populations that do not interbreed.

The natural habitat of the giant panda is cool, wet, cloudy mountain forest land where bamboo grows. Giant pandas are found in mixed deciduous/evergreen temperate forests, between 3,000 and 10,500 feet (900-3,200 m) in altitude (below the timberline). Pandas used to also live at lower altitudes, but farming and land development have pushed the pandas high into the mountains.

Giant pandas are an endangered species and their numbers are dwindling very quickly as their habitat is destroyed. There are roughly 1,000-1,500 pandas living in the wild (in China). There are about 120 living in zoos and breeding centers around the world. This species is extremely vulnerable to extinction because of humans.

Giant pandas are mostly shy, solitary animals. They live most of their lives alone. A small group of pandas may share a large feeding territory, usually only meeting to breed. Scientists don't know very much about the lives of these animals.

Giant panda bears are mostly silent, but they can bleat! They don't roar like other bears, but they do have 11 different calls, four of which are only used during mating.

The giant panda's life span in the wild has not been accurately documented, but Chinese scientists report that some pandas in zoos have lived to be 35 years old. Hsing-Hsing, who lives in the National Zoo, turned 29 in 1999. Most animals live longer in captivity than in the wild.

Giant pandas have a rolling gait. Like people and other bears, giant pandas are flat-footed (plantigrade - that is, both heel and toe touch the ground when walking).

Pandas are good tree climbers, using their short claws to grab onto the bark. Sometimes they take afternoon naps high in the trees.

Unlike many other bears, pandas cannot walk on their hind legs.

Giant pandas do not hibernate since their food is available all year long. Also, the bamboo they eat is not high enough in nourishment to fatten them up for the winter. During the cold winter months, giant pandas go to lower altitudes where it is a bit warmer; they also take shelter in hollow trees or dens. They don't seem to have permanent dens.

Pandas have a very slow reproductive rate which contributes to their declining numbers.

Male and female giant pandas mate in the spring, attracting each other with calls and odors.

Females give birth between 95 and 160 days after mating. They have their cubs in dens that they dig in the ground. One or two cubs are born but usually only one survives.

Panda cubs are small, white, blind, furless, and helpless at birth. Except for marsupials (kangaroos, opossums, etc.), giant panda cubs are the smallest newborn mammals. They weigh four to six ounces (85-140 g) as newborns. This is lighter than an apple.

Like newborn human babies, panda cubs cry when they are hungry or need care from their mother. Their coats take on adult coloring about a month after birth. Cubs' eyes open at six to seven weeks. They will follow their mother at about three months after birth. They start eating bamboo at about 6 months old and are weaned from their mother at about 9 months.

Panda cubs grow very slowly. They stay with their mother for one to two years. They are fully grown in 2-4 years.

Humans are the giant panda's greatest enemy. Poachers still hunt giant pandas for their pelts, which they sell. Also, leopards sometimes kill cubs.

The giant panda seems to have evolved during the late Pliocene or early Pleistocene, roughly two to three million years ago. During those times, the giant panda's range extended throughout southern China. Panda fossils have been found in eastern China (as far north as Beijing) , Burma, and Vietnam.

Why, might you ask, did I choose pandas as my "outer dork" this week?

I was kept awake this past sunday night by a friend of one of my roommates who was so drunk that her ability to speak english was, shall we say, lacking. I couldn't understand a word she said. I was told later that all of her screaming and yelling was about pandas. Her name is Amanda, so that might have something to do with it.

All I know is I got 1 hour of sleep before working an 11 hour day.

But now you know more about pandas. :)

MrHinge said...

You're right, that is a long read. I've noticed you're blogs have been growing longer and longer. My attention span is kept best with short stories.

Oh look a chicken.

Ho-Me-G said...

Hmm... I'll take boobs over pandas. No offense, Jay. And no disrespect to Amanda.

Here's my contribution, aka Thanks for the Mammaries:

Seen a lot of boobs. Been with everyone from a B cup to a J cup. The best boobs actually have nothing to do with size, but instead have everything to do with the reaction the owner has when giving the boobs attention. Although big boobs are fun.

Nipples are outstanding. (And now, dreaming...)

(And continuing...) Boobs are best when flaunted, which makes me very curious why in the hell anyone would want to hide them in fabric. I like the folks who let the breasts remain uncovered. I vote for that. Notice that they were all BC, which I'll now call "Before Cleavage."

And then some prudes showed up who evidently hated boobs. Unbelievable.

And then corsets and boyish figures. Yuck.

Curves. Curves rule. Boobs are perfect and begging for attention.

Boobs should be natural, not fake.

Oh, that's right... this was about the bra. I guess I took the bra off and went straight for the boobs.

Mmmm... boobs.

GirlGoyle said...

Ho-me-g...u are too funny but I totally agree with you. If you have them (boobs) you should learn to exhibit them without shame. And if you don't have should still show what you got. As for nipples, why do we hide those again? They are there for a reason..and if they happen to show through your shirt occasionally so be it!

Party Girl said...

Jay: Thanks! I had no idea about almost any of that. Bras VS Pandas. That is why I love this blog and your outter dorks!

MrHinge: I will do my best to shorten them up. Sometimes a girl just needs a lot of words to say how she truly feels.

Ho-Me-G: so, you're a fan? Didn't quite catch that.

GirlGoyle: Excellent point. Pun is perhaps intended.