We continue now with Part 2 of History of the Brassiere by The Countess of West Essex...
THE COUNTESS OF WEST ESSEX
Part 2 – We Have Lift Off
By the 1400’s, thanks to free trade across the high seas, the Brassiere had found its way throughout most of Europe.
The German ‘Bustenhalter’ was famed for its rigidity and strength, and during the mid 20th century the wearer's physique were often compared to a dead heat in a Zeppelin Race. The Italian version was well designed and fashionable whereas the French still needed a lot of convincing and preferred to let their assets swing. The British were, of course, very reserved and wouldn’t even mention the word.
During the war parachute silk was the favoured material, and those well blessed in the chest area would often ask for the ropes to be kept attached for extra restraint. In the late 50’s the most popular brand was ‘The Sheepdog’ which promised to round them up and point them in the right direction.
Whilst all this was going on the Americans were busy designing their own range. Even companies like Tupperware jumped on the bandwagon by producing a bra that not only made them look good but also kept them fresh at the same time. Playtex became the major player with its ‘Cross your Heart’ range as well as it’s ‘Pump for Fun’ and ‘Blow & Go’ range which were less successful.
"In the late 50’s the most popular brand was ‘The Sheepdog’ which promised to round them up and point them in the right direction."
As the years progressed then so did the trend for different bust shapes & sizes. Thanks to magazines like ‘Playboy,’ ‘Mayfair,’ and ‘Kiss My Whip,’ ample bosoms became all the rage, and the’ two ice cream cones in the sand’ look was replaced by the ‘she’ll never fall flat on her face’ look. Those without the required essentials would head for the stores where the new padded bras were flying off the shelves together with the ‘Strap don’t Flap’ for the older female and rolled up socks and cucumbers for the self-conscious males.
The sex trade were also able to take a slice of the pie with their peek-a-boo range and transparent range which enabled the punter to examine the goods before handling.
A brief setback...
There was a sudden glut in the market during the late 60’s and early 70’s when women everywhere were burning their bras as a sign of female solidarity, but this came to a sudden end when they realised that they could no longer run for the bus or turn round quickly without spinning from the momentum.
I do hope that you have enjoyed this brief history of the Brassiere. I, myself, have two cupboards full, some dating back to the 1500’s. I still wear them but have had to dispose of the front fastening type as once Count Bobo had managed to unlatch the clasp the impending release would often than not send his spectacles flying across the room and stub out his cigar.
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