Caresse Crosby was born Mary Phelps Jacob on April 20, 1891, and died January 26, 1970. Caresse was the first person to receive a patent for the backless brassiere. During the beginning of the 20th century women’s undergarments were extremely uncomfortable and even unhealthy to wear. Crosby was a young socialite who often attended events where an evening gown was required dress. She became frustrated with how uncomfortable corsets were and decided to do something about it. Mary sewed two handkerchiefs and some ribbon together and came up with the backless brassiere. It was easy to wear and contoured to the recipient’s body. After receiving a patent under the name of Caresse Crosby she began selling to family and friends. Her invention did not receive wide appeal until the beginning of World War 1 when the government, to conserve metal, suggested women stop buying corsets. Unfortunately, by this time Caresse had sold her patent to the Warner Corset Company, who over the next thirty years made $15 million.
Additional information about this interesting woman and her “wild lifestyle” can be found at the following websites: