In 1864, Eleanor Marshall was granted Patent No. 43,321
for her "mammiform breast-protectors." From her patent:
Be it known that I, E.M. Marshall, of Hillsdale, Columbia county, in the State of New York, have invented, made, and applied to use a new and improved article for ladies' wear, which I term a "Mammiform and Protector"...
My improved mammiform and protector is formed of wire wound upon these formers, forming two springs, AA, connected together as shown, and being as similar as possible to the natural breasts. These springs AA may be separated and used singly when desired...
My improved mammiform and protector, being thus constructed, will be found to possess the following advantages: light, flexible, and covering the natural breasts without depressing them, and serving to protect them, and yet the springs of my mammiform and protector may be pressed together or onto the natural breasts, or in any other direction, and when relieved from such pressure resume their natural position and save the wearer the relaxing and debilitating effects of pads, answering all the purposes of a protector, and always presenting a natural appearance.
With springs like that, if a woman accidentally fell forward she'd bounce right back up.
The Magic Oval Pantie lady had no qualms about parading around in public in her underwear and evening gloves, while her alter ego frantically tried to save herself from a wedgie.
Charm - Apr 1957
Cosmopolitan - March 1957
Life - Sep 16, 1957
Life - Sep 9, 1957
Photoplay - March 1957
Mademoiselle - March 1957
"Le Boulocho" underwear claims to offer an all-natural form of contraception for men. It holds the testes close to the body, thereby raising their temperature and causing temporary sterility. However, it needs to be worn for 15 hours a day to reliably produce this result. And those should be waking hours, not sleeping ones.
Also, the underwear is not yet for sale, pending ongoing testing.
More info: boulocho.free.fr
(in French), Thermal Male Contraception
Back in the 1970s, some researchers compared the spermatozoa of humans to that of the other great apes and found that humans tend to have a much higher percentage of abnormal (and presumably defective) spermatozoa. For instance, 18.4% of the human spermatozoa was irregularly shaped, compared to just 0.2% for chimpanzees. The researchers suggested that "testicular damage caused by clothing-induced hyperthermia" was one possible explanation for this high percentage. So arguably all underwear and pants may be slightly contraceptive.
Reference: "Morphological abnormalities in spermatozoa of man and great apes,"
Nature - Nov 1977.
Hannelore Nelson was fired from her job as a translator with the U.S. Army in Germany for not wearing a bra while attending an asparagus banquet in Mainz, where she was translating for Gen. David Martin. At least, the General thought she wasn't wearing a bra. Nelson protested that she definitely had been wearing one, and she got the Mayor and Police Chief of Mainz to back her up ("Both said they saw nothing"). She eventually received $20,000 in compensation for wrongful termination.
Oakland Tribune - May 31, 1978
Red Deer Advocate - June 16, 1978
And in other Army brassiere news, the U.S. Army has recently developed a "tactical brassiere"
which will be the first official uniform bra the Army has offered its female soldiers.
In 1975, Scharlette Holdman, executive director of Hawaii's ACLU, tried to visit a prisoner in an all-male Hawaiian prison, at the prisoner's request. While being searched it was discovered that she wasn't wearing a bra, and so she was denied entry. She sued, and the case went to the Hawaiian Supreme Court which ruled in favor of the prison. As a result, it remains the rule that all female visitors to Hawaiian prisons must wear bras, whether or not the lack of a bra is evident.
The case: Holdman v. Olim (1978)
More info from Dressing Constitutionally by Ruthann Robson:
Scharlette Holdman, then director of the Hawai'i ACLU, sought entry to a prison and was searched by a matron who discovered Holdman was not wearing a bra. The matron denied Holdman entry, relying upon a directive that required visitors to be 'properly dressed,' 'fully clothed including undergarments,' and stated 'provocative attire is discouraged.' Holdman's challenge stressed equal protection, under both the United States and Hawai'i state constitutions, arguing that the requirement that women wear bras while men need not constituted sex discrimination. Writing in 1978, the Hawai'i Supreme Court expressed some consternation about the slight record, but relying in part on deference to prison officials, the court found that dress standards are 'intimately related to sexual attitudes' and 'the omission of a brassiere as a conventional article of women's clothing' has been 'regarded as sexually provocative by some members of society.' ... The fact that Scharlette Holdman's lack of a bra became evident only upon a tactile search was irrelevant: the prison could still find it would be sexually provocative to the male inmates.
Honolulu Advertiser - Feb 3, 1975
No mincing words here!
In 1968, the British Patent Office granted Wong Tai Tung of Hong Kong Patent No. 1,105,147
for "Improvements in or relating to Brassiere Garments". From his patent:
The human civilization is making progress day by day. The present thinking is in favour of increasing exposure of the parts of their body, especially the female bosom which is attractive to everybody with its charm.
It is the most important point for women to have decorated brassiere garments to enhance the beauty of the bosom.
In order to meet with their requirement, I have invented a decorative metal brassiere garment. It makes the bosom appear bigger because of the twingle and sparking light of ornaments of gems and pearls on the garment.
Back in the 1920s, Ralph Woltstem reimagined the brassiere. He did away with the straps around the shoulders and instead used columns to provide support from below. These columns, in turn, incorporated shock absorbers. He was granted two patents for this invention. The device in both patents looks pretty much identical to me. The images are from Patent No. 1762676
, and the explanatory text below is from Patent No. 1741898
This invention relates to new and useful improvements in breast supporters for women and aims to provide simple, inexpensive and efficient means whereby large and flabby breasts of women, especially of the buxom type, may be so supported as to assume a firm and solid condition. Furthermore, the use of my present device will prevent the flapping of the breasts while walking, which always is an undesired feature in women afflicted with breasts of unusual proportions.