Ye Olde Breastbags: Archeologists Have Discovered the World's Oldest Bra

When it comes to undergarments, don't you just love the vintage look? Sure, we could talk about the bullet bras of the garters of the '50s, the underpinnings of the '40s or the tap pants and teddies of the '20s, but if you want to be legitimate in your enthusiasm for old-timey undies, you need to look back farther than that by about 500 years.

Archeologists recently discovered what they believe to be the world's oldest bra, created anytime between 1390 and 1485 A.D., hidden beneath the floorboards of an excavation site at Austria's Lengberg Castle. While there have been previous references to "breastbags" (so simple, so romantic) in medieval written sources, archeologists have been unable, until now, to produce fragments of the actual garment.

From Archaeology.org's From the Trenches blog:

When archaeologists pulled up the floorboards during extensive restoration work at Lengberg Castle in Austria, they found a space filled with dry organic material, including branches and straw, processed wood, leather, shoes, yarn, rope, and more than 2,700 textile fragments. Among the textiles were 17 linen shirts, a complete pair and a fragment of men's underwear, and four lace-decorated linen bras-which push back the earliest date for this type of women's undergarment more than 500 years. Using both their archaeological context — the fill layer was likely created during a fifteenth-century renovation of the castle — and radiocarbon analysis of fibers from two of the bras, Beatrix Nutz of the University of Innsbruck dated the garments to between A.D. 1390 and 1485.

Nutz also concludes (through witchcraft presumably) that the medieval bras were constructed by women themselves as opposed to male tailors. Clearly, they did a good job. The bra displayed is practically 600 years old and in better condition than some of the ones I wear on a regular basis.

[From The Trenches]