The history of the bra is something everyone should study! (not just adolescent males ;) Why should we care about the history of underwear? Because it's such an important part of our culture, media, fashion, and yes even politics. (Bra burning anyone?)
Well, it's your lucky day because you happened to stumble upon the most exciting, easy to understand bra history in the history of bra histories. (I smile every time I read that sentence)
Actually to be honest, I love History! It was my favorite subject in school and I considered majoring in it, until I sat down and tried to think of what I would actually do with a history degree. Little did I know that 10 years in the future, I would be the creator of BigBustSupport AND be researching the History of the Bra. Life is funny!
sidenote: I never did get around to using that Elementary Education Degree I earned, oh well.
Okay, Okay I'll stop wasting your time and get on with it. I know you're a busy person with important things to do otherwise you wouldn't be studying bra history right ;) ?
Most bra histories start by mentioning the Minoan women of Crete around 2500 - 3000 BC. I found this to be amusing because these women didn't wear bras.
In fact, they wore the opposite of bras - which would be NOTHING!
However, they did wear a type of clothing that surrounded, semi-supported, and displayed the breasts. (Quite prominently I might add).
So I guess in a round about way these were the first cupless bras? Something to think about anyways.
Historians are not sure if this was the typical, everyday dress of the Minoans, or if this type of clothing was reserved for religious ceremonies. (I'll bet guys never missed church back then)
We're going to 'skip' the next 2500 years and get to the good part where clothing designed for breast support (aka the bra) actually starts to appear.
Just know that most clothing between these two ancient time periods were typically loose flowing 'toga' type robes that exposed one or both of the breasts.
No 'history of the bra' would be complete without these girls. Let me introduce you to the Bikini Girls of Villa Romana. No, this wasn't a sorority in Italy, but it would be a cool name for a band.....
This mosaic was discovered in an ancient Roman Villa in southern Italy and let me tell you these chicks were FIT!
I didn't know they had little dumbbells back then. How cool is that!
Actually, the very first thing I noticed was their cute little round bellies, heck yes! Fist Pump for Pudge Appreciation!
After you get done checking out their nice physique, check out their cute little sports bras!
Definitely not as supportive as the Enell or Shock Absorber found on on my sports bra page but hey it's a start. This mosaic proves that even 1700 years ago women realized the need for 'containment' while exercising - an important step in the history of bras.
While I was researching the bra history of China, I came upon a plethora of information about 'Breast Binding'.
I guess technically, some would argue that no bra history would be complete without including a discussion about this act of hiding and restricting the breast by wrapping it tightly. Breast Binding not only occurred in Asian cultures, but seemingly worldwide at one time or another.
However, I have decided not to include breast binding in my bra history and will consider including it on another page. It's just too extensive.
Let's take a minute to learn about our beautiful Asian sisters and the history of the bra shall we?
The Ming Dynasty, from 1368 to 1440, saw the rise in the popularity of the undergarment known as the Dudou.
(FYI - Dudous were also used during the Qing Dynasty, I know that was your next question)
They remind me of a tiny apron. They tie around the neck and then tie around the back. These have become quite popular in modern times.
But nowadays women are forgetting to wear them underneath their clothes ;)
From the looks of them I'm guessing us 'bigger' girls would struggle staying decent while wearing a dodou.
I going to continue my history of the bra on another page because this one has gotten sufficiently long and I don't want your scrolling finger to get sore. See you on page 2! click below to keep reading.
And make sure you check out the page that I wrote all about people involved in the invention of the bra on my page with the surprising title...
Lingerie manufacturer Frederick's of Hollywood reports that in 1996, the average size of bras they sold was 34B.
Currently, the average is a 36C.
And I'd bet my best bra that nowadays the average bra size is closer to a D cup
Similar data about the increase in average breast size comes from England, where busts grew from 36B to 36C in a 3 year period.
According to The Penguin Atlas of Human Sexual Behavior, breasts across Asia grew from 34A to 34C between 1980 and 2000.