All-American Style: Clothing Invented & Popularized by the U.S.


“No taxation without representation” is not the only game-changing innovation Americans have come up with since 1776. In fact, we also owe thanks to our forefathers (and foremothers) for some of the most practical and prevalent creations in fashion. From undergarments to shoe soles, American inventors have us covered – literally.

In honor of the 4th of July, here are the stories of how five legendary, American pieces of clothing came to be.

1. Jeans (May 20, 1873)

In 1853, during the Gold Rush, twenty-four-year-old Levi Strauss migrated from New York to San Francisco in pursuit of affluence. In California, he successfully established the West Coast branch of his family’s business, importing clothing, fabrics and other dry goods. Among his loyal customers was Jacob Davis, a Reno, Nevada tailor who had the idea to use metal rivets to reinforce denim work pants at stress points. Lacking the funds to file for a patent, Davis sought out Strauss as a business partner, and the two men went on to manufacture the first jeans in San Francisco.


2. Earmuffs (March 13, 1877)

Allegedly a grammar school dropout, fifteen-year-old Chester Greenwood of Farmington, Maine was ice skating in the bitter cold when he grew frustrated with the impracticality of wrapping a wool scarf around his head to protect his ears. Determined to find a solution, he bent wire in the shape of two ears and asked his grandmother to sew fur onto them – and the earmuffs were born.


3. Rubber Heel (January 24, 1899)

Setting type in a print shop in Lowell, Massachusetts, Humphrey O’Sullivan stood on a hard floor for hours each day. To soothe his pained feet, he made a habit of bringing a rubber mat to work to stand on. Seeing its effectiveness, he cut the mat into heel-shaped pieces and attached them to the soles of his shoes. He sold his rubber heels, which became dubbed “America’s No. 1 Heel,” first to Lowell shoemakers and then to cobblers throughout the nation.


4. The Brassiere (March 28, 1893 and November 3, 1914)

The first brassiere was invented in 1893 by New York resident Marie Tucek. Tucek’s bra, which resembles the modern underwire bra, consisted of a metal supporting plate underneath separate pockets for each breast. Tucek, however, failed to market the product successfully. It was not until 1914—when young New York socialite Mary Phelps Jacob patented her own design—that the bra began to proliferate. Jacob is supposed to have fashioned her first bra, out of ribbon and two silk handkerchiefs, because the stiff boning of her corset showed through an evening gown she had purchased.


5. Spanx (August 21, 2001)

Before Sara Blakely of Atlanta, Georgia invented Spanx, she was a door-to-door saleswoman for fax machines. Her life changed when, at 29, she became frustrated by a pair of white slacks that did not flatter her rear end.  Blakely found her solution when she cut the feet off of control-top pantyhose and wore them under the pants. Investing her life savings of $5,000 to develop comfortable shapewear, Blakely made her first sale through an in-person demonstration. She has since grown into the youngest female self-made billionaire in the world, while Spanx has expanded its reach into bras, swimwear, activewear, and even menswear. If that’s not the American Dream our founding fathers had in mind, then what is?

6 Responses to “All-American Style: Clothing Invented & Popularized by the U.S.”

  1. Arron Bullis

    Greetings. I am a young Ballistics Expert and was trying to better be equipped for my event at ChevronTexaco Corporation. This is the reason why I came to your blog page. Being raised in Cragford and going to class at Loyola University New Orleans (LA) in Perdido, has helped me to get ready for my destiny. My folks were also mentors and they notified me about this comment right after reading I Wish I had a Pirate Suit. Thanks

  2. Frederic Mogel

    Whats up! I am likewise a guide. I appreciate you for having such an desirable page. Being from Hanceville , has furnished me with a perfect insight on what is involved to travel to Vandiver. All Of Us will continue to come and check your site to better understand where to go when we get to Atlanta ga. Remember to keep on writing and offer us your views on Wake Forest University (NC). Promise to see you soon at the new job fair at Travelers Cos. Enjoy your day.

  3. Pauletta Opfer

    Hey there. Thank you for visiting my internet site. I was thrilled to see that we were both raised in Anderson and went to Westminster Theological Seminary (PA). Getting to that school and becoming a Broadcast News Analyst has served me to better adjust sticking to near the canal. Looking forward to viewing your video soon after you see our slope. Kindly forward my regards to your mother and father. Regards


Leave a Comment!

  • (will not be published)

*Required field