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When Was the First Bra or Brassiere?

Updated on July 19, 2012
The Middle Age Bra
The Middle Age Bra
The Lemberg Castle
The Lemberg Castle
The panties or underwear
The panties or underwear

Until recently, it was thought that the first modern bra or brassiere was not more than 100 years old, maybe at the turn of the 19th Century. Now, it appears that the modern bra was actually worn in Austria during the Middle Ages by rich women some 600 years ago!

The bra was found in the Lemberg castle under the floorboards in 2008 and are made of linen. The artifact was sent for carbon dating and the result was true. Researchers found a total of four bras among more than 2700 textile items intermixed with dirt and leather. Like today's bra, the 15th century bras has two cups and shoulder straps with a back strap. More stunning was that the bras were also decorated with lace, obviously, meant to please those looking at them. Also found at Lemberg Castle in Tyrol was a linen undergarment that looks very much like a pair of panties.

The history of women's underwear seems to be the bra was first, then, the corset, replacing the bra, then, the bra being reinvented in the early 19th century. But, what is truly amazing is that the items survived over 600 years, hidden from the elements. Think of the story of how they got there, who wore them, why are the under the floor?


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    • perrya profile image

      perrya 5 years ago

      I agree, the why, when, of why they were under the floor for 600 yrs. is a story for sure. Was there some sort of secrecy embarrassment involved? The need for the bra seems obvious to me- support and lift. The panties found are thought be a man's because back in the Middle Ages, it was more common for men to have them. This leads to another interesting take-were the garments the remains of a illicit affair?

    • yoginijoy profile image

      yoginijoy 5 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      Super interesting topic! Yeah, more investigative research needs to be done. Why, indeed, are these supposedly intimate items under the floor? Now that is the beginning of a novel my friend....

      I have always wondered why bras were invented. They are not terribly comfortable, and by the way, neither are shoes. Who is crafting these things? I do have to say I would prefer the lace as well to any other material. And I certainly would prefer comfortable flats or sneakers. What a combo!