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In the world of commonly worn apparel, no item comes anywhere close to having created such polarizing feelings as the brassiere. For many people, bras represent nothing more than a mundane part of their dressing routine, practiced out of practicality or mere habit. For others, this undergarment has far surpassed its mode of functionality to enter realms ranging from the fetishized to the political. It’s a pretty impressive feat for an article that spends most of its time hidden beneath layers of clothing!

With the October kickoff of Breast Cancer Awareness Month now being only days away, it seems like the perfect time to spotlight everyday wear’s most infamous article of clothing…


Maiden Form, 1961.


Sears, 1959.


Sears, 1969. Bolero, 1946.


Playtex, 1954.


Petit Bateau, 1939. Peter Pan, 1967.


Christian Dior ad, 1960.


Protest of Miss America pageant, 1968. Maidenform, 1980.

Images at top: Drawing by Rene Denzinger, 1966. Peter Pan, 1954.


Kat Roberts lives in Brooklyn, NY, where she works as an artist, handbag and footwear instructor and accessories designer. In addition to almost constant crafting and contributing to BurdaStyle’s blog, she chronicles her obsession with creative recycling at her own blog, We Can Redo It.


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    Oct 9, 2011, 04.59 AMby Nermina Croata

    Hate bras.

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    Oct 4, 2011, 08.43 PMby mel13ita

    Are you talking about the one with the news paper? I love it too, I thought I could find the pattern, it’ll be wonderfull!!!!!!

    1 Reply
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      Oct 5, 2011, 01.17 PMby Whitehaus

      I want to make that one so bad!!

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    Oct 3, 2011, 12.29 AMby Tonia Richardson

    I just love the Dior & Maidenform ads very sexy….I may have a go at making my own

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    Sep 30, 2011, 11.26 AMby pambox

    well i’m smaller than small (30aa – it isn’t just for 12 year olds) so even finding bras in that size is ridiculously hard, and most are labelled ‘my first bra’ or something similar. although at least they’re fairly cheap, which is something to be thankful for compared to the specialist large bras. there are a few specialist small bra makers online – none in australia, none in the southern hemisphere i’m aware of – but that’s pricey and you don’t get to try then first, so that’s why i’ve started making my own. or just going without.

  • Missing

    Sep 30, 2011, 02.59 AMby miausiau

    I’m with the protester. I hate bras.

  • Missing

    Sep 29, 2011, 10.18 PMby mamadden

    Two years ago I went to a specialty bra shop with my mother to find her a strapless bra. She’s well enough endowed to need a corset style strapless (she calls them “long lined bras”) and we couldn’t find anything that did her justice in a regular store or VS. So to the fancy lingerie store we went.

    Best. Decision. Ever.

    They ain’t cheap (though really not terrible compared to VS prices) but they are WONDERFUL. I had been wearing a 34C and they put me in a 30DD. No more double boob, but still snug around the ribs! My mom turned out to be a 38FFF (triple F, she nearly died laughing/crying but the shop girl was unrepentant). She looked 15lbs lighter immediately.

    The moral of the story is to go to a specialty bra shop. If you don’t live near one, remember for when you take a trip to a larger city. They’re worth their weight in gold. I now own only four bras (black, two beige, and a strapless) and they’re the best things I’ve ever had. They stretch out very, very slowly and the store will take them in for free over time (not that sewers need that). You can obviously make your own bra, but it’s really worth it to get at least one professionally fitted so you know what to look for and what you’ve been missing.

    1 Reply
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      Oct 1, 2011, 09.31 PMby Whitehaus

      Love this! Every person I know who’s gone to a speciality bra store swears it’s life changing. As soon as my next bra dies I’m gonna have to try it for myself. Too many good testimonials to ignore.

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    Sep 29, 2011, 07.37 PMby peaches2218

    The 60s demi bra on the far right in the Peter Pan ad is killer. It’s even sexy by today’s standards!

    1 Reply
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      Oct 1, 2011, 09.31 PMby Whitehaus


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    Sep 29, 2011, 01.33 PMby max

    This post is very interesting to me as I am currently offering a class on making your own custom bra. I have a certified instructor coming from Denver to teach this 2 day class if a minimum of 8 people sign up. If any of you ladies are in or near West Texas (Lubbock) let me know so we can get this class scheduled! Also interesting: all sizes have fit issues, myself included.

    2 Replies
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      Sep 29, 2011, 02.07 PMby Whitehaus

      Good luck with the class! That would be a fantastic skill to have.

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      Sep 29, 2011, 04.22 PMby atrinka

      I wish I could attend your class….

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    Sep 29, 2011, 07.23 AMby loulourosa

    I love the playtex add and the peter pan advertising, so cool! I also have a bra issue, I have a french size E95. Bra’s with a good support are verry expensive.

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    Sep 29, 2011, 05.30 AMby Hannah Camp

    Love these old photos, awesome. Guess there are a lot of women with bra issues you can add me to the list I am a size 34D and though D isnt hard to come by 34D is a pain!

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    Sep 28, 2011, 10.09 PMby newdawnk

    I’ve got the opposite issue. I’m a DD so all my bras are very expensive. Especially to get pretty ones that have support as well.

    Love the Dior ad. I’m wanting to copy that with my own pic for my sewing room. Maybe blow out my afro, throw on my pearls, and rock it! LOL

    1 Reply
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      Sep 29, 2011, 02.06 PMby Whitehaus

      Dior created so many of these gorgeous ads it was tempting to focus solely on them, but this was my favorite of the bunch. SO alive! Hope you go forward with your version:)

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    Sep 28, 2011, 05.34 PMby nouvellegamine

    bras are so hard for me to find. i’m a small b & i hate padding. needless to say, it’s not easy to find affordable bras that aren’t padded out to infinity.

    i do however have a lightly padded balconette bra that i wear with my vintage dresses. it gives the appropriate slightly pointy look of yesteryear as well as a girdle to complete the silhouette. and i have to say, they do make the dresses look amazing.

    1 Reply
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      Sep 28, 2011, 09.24 PMby freakusbzzz

      I have the same issue. Balconette bras are the best cause they dont have as much empty space.

  • House-draft-1-ebay-logo_large

    Sep 28, 2011, 05.13 PMby lovetessie

    Love the top right bra!

    Awesome post!


    1 Reply
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      Sep 29, 2011, 01.55 PMby Whitehaus

      That one’s my favorite, too! So dramatic.

    • This is a question
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