The Moron's Daily Briefing

May 30 - On this very day in 1889, the world's first bra was invented. To tell you the truth, I've lost all track of where I found that date, and haven't got the slightest idea what it refers to. I do know, however, that corset maker Herminie Cadolle invented the "Bien-Ítre" in 1889, and that this "health aid" was the first garment to support breasts from the shoulder down instead of squeezing them up from below.

I know that Marie Tucek patented the first "breast supporter" in 1893. Ms Tucek's innovations included separate pockets for the breasts and over-the-shoulder straps fastened by hook-and-eye closures.

I know that New York socialite Mary Jacob Phelps invented a modern bra in 1913 (with two handkerchiefs, some ribbon, and a bit of cord) to accommodate a sheer evening gown. I also know that Ms Phelps sold her invention, which she called the brassiere, to the Warner Brothers Corset Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut, for $1500 in 1914.

I even know that the US War Industries Board encouraged the assimilation of the bra in 1917 by encouraging women to stop buying corsets, thereby freeing up for military use the nearly sixty million pounds of metal used in them (collectively, one presumes, although to hear accounts from the period one has to wonder).

And I know that during the 1920s, a Russian immigrant by the name of Ida Rosenthal founded Maidenform with her husband William. The Rosenthals grouped breasts into cup sizes and developed bras for women of every age.

So it doesn't really matter what happened on May 30, 1889. It only matters that I've used the word breast about twenty times in the last three paragraphs, and the search engines are gonna find that pretty damn titillating.

Especially given that May 30 is also Anguilla Day in Anguilla, and the birthday of such American entertainers as Wynonna Judd, Benny Goodman, Mel Blanc, and Peter the Great. (Peter the Great wasn't technically an American entertainer during his lifetime, but some scholars have suggested that "Peter and the Wolf," by the Russian composer Prokofiev, may have been based on his early adventures in tree-climbing.)

© 2002, The Moron's Almanac™

[close window]