'Yankee' Nylon Lace Bra By Kestos

'Yankee' Nylon Lace Bra By Kestos, c. 1950s, Great Britain. The Underpinnings Museum. Photography by Tigz Rice.

Date: c. 1950-1955

Origin: Great Britain

Fabric: Nylon

Brand: Kestos

 

The ‘Yankee’ bra style was an updated cut on the classic ‘Kestos’ style that had been on sale since the late 1920s. Rather than the gently supportive darted cups of the original design, this style used an overbust seam to provide a more dramatic uplift and rounded bustline. The ‘Yankee’ bra was advertised as early as 1950, with a 1955 advertisement describing the range as giving ‘Uplift with an American accent… rounded, emphatic. A brassiere for moderns to revel in’.

The design still retains a number of key design details from the original Kestos bra, including the wraparound strapping and underbust fastening. Unfortunately, even with the updated silhouettes, the brand struggled to keep up in the 1950s and eventually closed its doors.

The Kestos bra is based on two lightly darted triangle cups, overlapping at the centre front. Elasticated straps cross at the centre back, fastening around the front with buttons underneath the bust point. The bra was designed by Rosamond Lilian Klin, in London, England. It was patented in 1926 and the bra was arguably one of the first commercially produced bras with separated cups. The Kestos bra remained popular through the 1930s and 1940s. Although the Kestos brand produced many different styles, this bra shape became generically known as ‘The Kestos’.

 

From the collection of Karolina Laskowska. With thanks to Caroline Elenowitz-Hess for research help.

Museum number: KL-2020-041

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