Did you read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, or perhaps Tom Sawyerr? Then you must be familiar with the novelist Mark Twain. But do you know that the world has him to thank for the bra strap?
Apart from his books, Mark Twain was also an inventor. Well, I am sure you may not know that Twain was the one who invented and patented the “Improvement in adjustable and detachable straps“, which makes brassieres a most convenient clothing accessory today.
In 1871, Mark Twain whose real name is Samuel Langhorne Clemens became frustrated with the use of suspenders, and, as a solution, he invented an adjustable strap for keeping men’s shirts in place and fitted, pretty much like suspenders but a lot less cumbersome.
His invention was a flop with men’s apparel, however, it became a huge success with women’s brassieres, making it a most convenient item of clothing in women’s closets.
In 1913 on the other hand, Mary Phelps made a ground breaking invention in women’s undergarments. She used two handkerchieves to make what later came to be known as the brassiere, and got a patent for it the following year. This innovation marked the end of a 350 year era that endured torturous corsets, punctuated with painful whaleback bones. Torturous corsets had become popular as a result of the enforcement of narrow waists by Catherine De Medicis, wife of King Henry II who didn’t want thick waistlines at court attendance.
However, Mary Phelps couldn’t handle the business of managing a patent right so she sold it to Warner Brothers Corset Company for $1,500. The company made over fifteen million from that patent over the next thirty years.
Even though strapless bras are a thing, top bra manufacturing companies like Victoria’s Secrets, DKNY and some others confirm that ladies find bras with straps an invaluable asset, particularly as straps can enable ladies make adjustments to suit their comfort.
So next time you put on a bra or take one off, remember that Mark Twain, that famous writer of yore, secured the bra strap for you.