Warner Corsets & Invention Of The Bra

Warner Brothers Corset Co. was, according to some, the company that we have to thank for the modern bra sizing system. Originally creators of corsetry – ‘for every size & age’- their acquisition of Caresse Crosby’s 1914 patent for the first modern bra was a monumentally good decision for the company. Mrs. Caresse Crosby was $1500 richer, Warner Brothers Corset Co. was now revamped as ‘Warners’, and the corset ban of the first world war – apparently releasing 28,000 pounds of steel for the war effort – meant the decline of the corset by the time the war ended in 1918.


With the patent for this modern bra, Warners created a stretch bra – possibly one size fit all – but soon the options were expanded to allow the bra to truly fit all women and sizes. With the flapper era’s fashions demanding a release from corsetry and a flattening of the bust, it seemed that the corset was out and the bra was in.

It’s been a long time since we were corset wearing folk, so it’s easy to forget that for centuries we were. There’s a reason we wore corsets, and that same reason might be why corsets are still a popular niche item that have enjoyed a boom in popularity again in recent years, with celebrities like Jessica Alba using them to ‘regain her body post pregnancy’ and Kim & Khloe Kardashian crediting a waist training corset for their weight loss and tiny waistlines. As a side, some even think that all time curvy supermodel (and founder of SHAPE Magazine) Betty Brosmer – of measurements 36″-18″-34″ – used waist training corsets along with healthy living and fitness to create and maintain her spectacular curves.

But returning to Warner, corsets, bras and the revolution of modern shapewear…
There is a very interesting article on the topic of ‘Bra History: How A War Shortage Reshaped Modern Shapewear‘, in which I particularly like the story of how Caresse Crosby created the first modern bra while primping for a debutante ball. Finding her stiff corset and corset cover -“a boxlike armour of whalebone and pink cordage”- beneath her sheer evening gown too restrictive, she asked her maid to; “Bring me two of my pocket handkerchiefs and some pink ribbon.” The materials were sewn together into what she then called her ‘backless brassiere’ and her invention was the talk of the party. And so the modern bra was born.

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Raven Tao

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