An upbeat celebration of the numerous styles of bras traces their evolution through hundreds of archive photos, discussing the bra's use and symbolism throughout history while showcasing bra fashion trends as donned by Madonna, Marilyn Monroe, and numerous other stars.
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Stephanie Pedersen is an author and journalist who specialises in beauty and health issues. Her articles have appeared in Sassy, Teen, Girl, Woman's World, Cosmopolitan, American Woman and Weight Watchers. She is the author of nearly 20 books and teaches creative writingFrom Publishers Weekly:
Although not everyone will agree with the author’s assertion that "in shaping breasts, the bra has also shaped fashion and modern sex appeal," one thing that this lighthearted, sartorial tribute makes clear is that a more conscious appreciation of the underwire garment is in order. Pedersen (K.I.S.S. Guide to Beauty) traces the evolution of the bra, from ancient times when Minoan women flaunted their breasts in uplifting cutaway jackets, to the more modest (read imprisoning) years of the rib-snapping corset, to the "anything goes" attitude of contemporary fashion. The bra in its modern incarnation didn’t debut until the early 20th century—when Mary Phelps Jacob created one out of two silk handkerchiefs, some pink ribbon and thread, and subsequently nabbed the first U.S. patent in 1914—but Pedersen maintains that fashion and feminism owe much to the brassiere. She points out that as women began entering the workforce during WWI, the modern bra became indispensable because it granted female workers mobility and signified their independence. From then on, it was adapted to suit different fashions. In the ’20s, women used the bra to flatten themselves and achieve the androgynous figures of flappers and suffragettes, and a decade later, Lana Turner and her clingy cashmere and prominent breasts sparked a demand for "falsies." A plethora of pictures complement the text, including a photo of an old pin up and some tantalizing shots of models wearing sexy fantasy bras made of diamonds and other precious gems. In the end, it’s hard to say which crowd this mildly intriguing history will appeal to more—the women who wear the lingerie or the men who enjoy seeing them in it.
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