Fashion discovery: Bras date back to Middle Ages

600-year-old bra
Photo: Archeological Institute of the University of Innsbruck

Surprise. Women’s bras are not a “modern” contraption from the late 1800s. Archeologists from the University of Innsbruck have discovered, in an Austrian castle, four linen bras that date back to the Middle Ages.

Previously it was thought corsets preceded bras in the evolution of women’s clothing, and that it was not until about a century ago that modern, “liberated” women gave up the more constraining garment in favor of bras. New York socialite Mary Phelps Jacob patented the first modern bra in 1914 because she was unhappy with the the way her gown looked over a stiff corset.

The 600-year-old bras were discovered in 2008 but the news was not released until carbon dating could be completed.

Apparently women’s lib is not such a modern concept after all.

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