600-Year-Old Bra Blows Hole in History of Lingerie

Bras were commonly thought to have been worn for just a century

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 19, 2012 2:25 PM CDT

(Newser) – The history of lingerie has long gone something like this: Corsets came first, then bras made their way onto the scene about 100 years ago. But a few scraps of linen found in an Austrian castle is turning that long-held story on its head. The AP reports that among 2,700 textile fragments found by archeologists at Lemberg Castle in 2008 were four bras that have been carbon-dated and proven to be 600 years old.

The bras, which are just getting press now, were both functional and fashionable, according to a statement from the University of Innsbruck, which describes them as intricately decorated with lace and other ornamentation—ostensibly to please a lover. The archeologists also turned up what looks like a pair of panties. But those actually would have been worn by a man, says the lead archeologist; women went commando under their flowing skirts back then.

This undated picture publicly provided by the Archeological Institute of the University of Innsbruck shows a medieval bra.
This undated picture publicly provided by the Archeological Institute of the University of Innsbruck shows a medieval bra.   (AP Photo/University Innsbruck Archeological Institute)
This undated picture publicly provided by the Archeological Institute of the University of Innsbruck shows medieval underwear.
This undated picture publicly provided by the Archeological Institute of the University of Innsbruck shows medieval underwear.   (AP Photo/University Innsbruck Archeological Institute)
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