That’s 40 years of support – happy birthday, sports bra!

Pam LeBlanc runs the Blueberry Festival 10K in South Haven, Michigan, in 2015, wearing a sports bra. Photo by Chris LeBlanc


We’ve come a long way since a woman sewed two jock straps together in 1977 to create the world’s first modern sports bra.

We’ve even taken a few steps forward since 1999, when Brandi Chastain ripped off her jersey, exposing her black sports bra after the U.S. women’s soccer team clinched the Women’s World Cup.

It’s hard to remember why that revelation became such a big deal. Today, it’s OK to flaunt your sports bra, and you can buy a strappy one, a glittery one or a hot pink one. The common thread? Functionality and support.

RELATED: Happy anniversary to the sports bra

Sports bras, which hit the market 40 years ago, now come in all styles, shapes and colors. Photo by Brian Diggs/American-Statesman

In the 40 years since Jogbra introduced the world to the sports bra, they’ve gotten better. Today’s sports bras don’t just stop our boobs from bouncing (in a figure eight motion, it turns out). They wick moisture and provide better support, no matter what your size or shape. And, yes, some of them make a fashion statement.

We can credit a trio of college students at the University of Vermont for the dawn of the sports bra. Hinda Miller was so frustrated she wore two bras to provide enough support. (Kind of like double bagging groceries, I suppose.) Another student, Lisa Lindahl, had the same problem and mentioned it to a friend, Polly Smith, who made costumes for the theater department, where Miller also worked.

RELATED: Runners World explains how to find the perfect sports bra

When Lindahl’s teased them by slinging two jock straps over his shoulder, it triggered an idea, which ultimately became the Jogbra. (Side note: The women nearly named their garment a Jockbra.)

Today, sports bras are big business. Worldwide sales reached $7 billion in 2014.

RELATED: Listen to an interview with the inventor of the Jogbra.

One thing hasn’t changed about sports bras in the past four decades – they still allow women to run, jump, climb, ski, lift weights, backpack, paddle and do whatever they want to do, without worrying about their breasts.

Author: Pam LeBlanc

Pam LeBlanc writes about fitness and travel for the Austin American-Statesman. She has worked for the Statesman since 1998 and written her weekly fitness column, Fit City, since 2004.

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