The Independent’s John Walsh writes up a century retrospective of the bra, and seems to have far too much fun doing so:
Exactly a hundred years ago, in 1907, the word “brassiere” was used in Vogue for the first time. But its evolution goes back three millennia. Historians have found that, while Roman women sometimes wore a band of cloth over their breasts, to restrict their growth or conceal them, the Greeks favoured a less uptight approach. Some enterprising designer realised that such a belt worn under the breasts might accentuate them, to pleasing effect. (In the hierarchy of ideas that have made the world a better place, this is up there with light bulbs and indoor plumbing.)
The brazen Minoans were streets ahead of the Greeks, however: women in Crete wore material that both supported and revealed their bare breasts, in emulation of the snake goddess â€“ 3,000 years before the invention of glamour modelling.
Breast supporting act: a century of the bra – Independent Online Edition > This Britain