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Modern bra turns 100 this year

world Updated: May 31, 2010 19:16 IST

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The modern bra, which was invented by New York socialite Mary Phelps-Jacob, has turned hundred this year.

Phelps-Jacob born in 1891 in New Rochelle was a descendant of steamboat inventor Robert Fulton. She was just 19 when she created an alternative to the corset while preparing for a debutante ball in 1910. The filmy dress she planned on wearing had a plunging neckline, and the corset, constructed of whalebone and heavy fabric, was far too cumbersome.

Phelps-Jacob asked her maid to tie two white handkerchiefs together with some pink ribbon. The improvised garment didn't offer much support, but it worked with the loose-hanging dresses of the period, and she wound up making versions for her high-society friends.

Phelps-Jacob got a patent in 1914, and then had sold it to the Warner Brothers Corset Co. for only 1,500 dollars.

By the time of Phelps-Jacobs' death, in 1970 at age 78, bras had become a billion-dollar industry.

"I can't say the brassiere will ever take as great a place in history as the steamboat, but I did invent it," the New York Post quoted her as having written.