Date: c. 1920s
Origin: United States
Fabric: Silk and lace
Brand: Warner’s ‘Egyptian’
This simple bandeau bra was produced for the ‘Egyptian’ sub-brand of Warner Brothers. It was sold alongside another more luxurious bra from the same label that can viewed within the Underpinnings Museum’s collection here.
The bra design is relatively typical for the 1920s, with a single piece of lace stitched with 2 darts at the bust for shaping. The cut of the garment would have given a flattened shape to the bustline. The neckline and underbust are finished with a picot edge trim. The shoulder straps and hook and eye fastening are both made of cotton twill tape. The left front strap point of the bra is decorated with a single silk ribbon rosette.
Originally this bra retailed for $0.89, which would be approximately $13 today. It is marked a size 30″, which presumably refers to an overbust size of 30″.
In the late nineteenth century, New York physician Dr Lucien Warner gave up his practice to begin a new career lecturing on women’s health issues, including the effects of the corset. In 1873, he designed a corset that provided the desired fashionable shape along with increased flexibility. The following year, Lucien Warner and his brother founded Warner Brothers Corset Manufacturers. After buying Mary Phelps Jacob’s brassiere patent in 1915, Warner’s went on to introduce lettered cup sizing in the 1930s and released its first line extremely successful of ‘Merry Widow’ foundation garments in 1952.
In 1968, the Warner Brothers Company changed its name to Warnaco and, by the mid-70s, had become a multi-national with almost twenty clothing divisions. In 1986, Linda J Wachner engineered a hostile takeover before streamlining the company’s divisions into just two clothing categories: menswear and underwear.
From the collection of Karolina Laskowska