Over the centuries women have turned to the bra for a number of reasons, mostly comfort. The first recorded makeshift brassiere was a garment worn in Ancient Rome called the Strophium. It kind of looked like a cross your heart bra draped over a toga. This worked very well for the females of the hedonistic Ancient times. The Strophium called attention to the shapely woman, defining her voluptuous body for the Ancient Horny Dudes to see, get aroused, and proceed to rape and pillage these beauties. Talk about feeling safe and secure!
The Naughty Normans gave women the chemise, which looked like a big potato sack. There was nothing sexy about it; in fact, you could probably say it was more a form of female bondage than anything else. A rare form of undergarment was the Sheet of Repentance worn by the fallen woman who had committed adultery. And because bathing was not a regular thing to society until the 18th century when the Macaronis went Pee Yew!, the chemise wasn't a particularly erotic outfit.
The real harness was the historical favorite, the Corset, which is, in my opinion, where Jane Fonda may have coined the phrase, No Pain, No Gain. While chicks did look tres sexy with their ample bosoms overflowing from these bustiers, the mutha fuckers were worn so tight that fainting was de riguer.
It wasn't until 1840 that the Bust Improver, which was the closest thing to a bra as we now know it, was bestowed upon the ladies. In 1887, bras were designed with wire supporters, better known as underwire. This model also came with pockets, where you could slip in a pad. I believe nowadays we call them padded bras. In 1889, as the Corset was losing its oomph, a device called the Bust Bodice was introduced. The Bust Bodice was designed to be worn above the corset, in order to support the breasts and keep the women weak and fainting.
In 1916 the Brassiere made its appearance and was heralded as the new undergarment for the ladies. Out went the Corset, the old fashioned Camisole and all the other antiquated objectifying woman garb. In 1920, the bras were worn tight across the chest, pressing the poor boobies flat and down on the woman's body, but in 1932, the concept of lift and separate was introduced, and in 1937, BRA became the official name.