This early brassiere dates to about 1915 to about 1920. Bras were needed to support the bust when straight corsets became the fashion. The new corsets ended just under the bust whereas the older Victorian corsets had gussets to support the breasts. This would have been worn over a straight corset. or by itself when corsets started to become unpopular towards the end of the 'teens era.
This bra acted as a corset itself with lacing at the back
that could be tightened. It is boned at the sides and back where the lace grommets are and the brassiere is waist length. On me at 5'9", it ends perfectly at my natural waist. It originally had two suspenders at the front attached on to the long tabs to hold up stockings. Most corsets had only 4 suspenders but 6 were preferred as they held up stockings better, so when worn with a corset, it would have also provided extra support for the stockings.
Its made out a cotton brocade which became popular in the late 'teens era for corsets and brassieres. This bra would have been worn by a large busted woman. It measures 44" at the bust, but probably would have been worn by a lady with a slightly larger bust as the laces could be let out a good 4". You didn't have to undo the laces every time you wanted to get out of it, as it fastens at the left side with heavy duty hook 'n eyes (this kind is often seen on corsets of the era below where the busk ends to stop the corset from spreading open over the hips). Still has its original label sewn inside 'Comfort Corset Brassiere Patent Pending 44'. The bodice part of it measures 11" from top of bodice to waist, and from the top of shoulder strap to bottom of suspender tab approx. 25". When I got it, someone had taken it in to fit a 34" bust (probably during
the 1930's when this style of bra came back into style. The stitching looked slightly newer than the original as well) but I restored it back to its original size.
(Formerly L. Hidic)