The Ancient History of Bras


In this blog series we will be travelling back in time to reveal the history of underwear, from ancient to modern times. Welcome to the Little Women’s guide to the ancient history of bras.

Men and women through the ages have been fascinated by lingerie and all things boob-related - albeit for different reasons – but just what is it about our boobs and how we adorn, encase, enhance and support them that has endured since ancient times?

The Little Women style team have put their research hats on and delved into the dim and distant past to bring you secrets from the lingerie drawer going back centuries, millennia even. Here, we will literally lay bare the history of bras.

Image of Ancient Egyptian bra (history of bras)

“Cor, this doesn’t half dig into my boobs!” - Should’ve tried a Little Women Bra, love!

1. Ancient Egyptian bras
Many people will be surprised that we’re starting the history of bras back in ancient Egypt, busting the myth that bras are a 19th century French invention. Non! In fact, bra-like garments were worn by Ancient Egyptian working women. Made from long cloths called ‘kalasiris’ that wrapped around the neck, they covered one or both boobs.
We’ve decided that only a two-cup bra that supports both boobs to create beautiful, symmetrical curves will do!

These first bras from Ancient Greece have even been called the first bikinis!

2. The first bra came from Ancient Greece

The first true bras, designed to restrain or enhance breasts, originated in Ancient Greece. Wall paintings in Crete’s Minoan civilization of 3,000 years ago, (above) show women performing athletics in bra-like garments that supported, but also emphasised and enhanced their breasts.

From Classical Greece to our classical bras that do what women of today and three millennia ago still want.

Like this blog? Inspired to buy a new bra? Read our body what’s Your True Bra Size blog and get the perfect fitting bra

3. Female goddesses wore bras!
Again, in Ancient Greece there are well-documented and authenticated images of triangular garments made of soft fabric complete with straps, that were worn not only by women, but depicted on statues of female deities!

Image of statues of female deities (history of bras)

Little Women know that every woman is a Goddess - check out our soft, non-wired bras… as modelled here by Artemis from the mid 4th century BC.

4. Ancient Rome knew small boobs are best!

In Ancient Rome is was all about stopping breast from sagging as Romans saw large breasts as comical, associated sagging breasts with ageing and considered big-boobed woman as unattractive! Sorry big-boobed sisters – their words, not ours. Women in Ancient Rome wore garments called strophium or mamillare, based upon the Greek garment pictured above. To show off their perky breasts they also wore gold breast chains (below) proving that support was not required!

Image of gold breast chains (history of bras)

Young girls in Rome wore material bands around their breasts (facias) to ensure they were supported as soon as they appeared… but we think our selection of teen bras offer more support for growing bust lines.

Like this blog? Read what modern day goddesses have to say about body confidence

So, that’s what women from the ancient past were wearing to support and enhance their boobs. Next time, we’ll move forward in time to the Middle Ages and Renaissance to see what bras our sisters of yesteryear favoured.

By Kelly Rogers

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Little Women creates beautiful lingerie for women with cup sizes AAA-B. We are specialists in lingerie for smaller cup sizes and have more than 25 years' experience.

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