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Bust bodice

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1820-1829 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cotton

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs C Ginsburg

  • Museum number:

    T.341-1978

  • Gallery location:

    On display at The Frick, Pittsburgh, USA

Physical description

Bust bodice of white cotton with slightly pointed neckline and short sleeves. It is just below bust length and the ends taper and extend to a length sufficient to cross at the back and tie at the front. The seams across the breasts and the triangular panel under the arm provide additional support for the bust. There is a worked wire button and loop at the centre front bust.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

1820-1829 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Cotton

Descriptive line

Bust bodice of cotton, England, 1820-1829

Labels and date

This is the oldest known bra in any museum collection. It was home-made in response to the new empire line fashions of the early 19th century.

The bodice shares similar characterists with some bras of the early 20th century, notably with its wrap-around ties. This coincidewnce of function demonstrates the need for an adjustable grip around the rib-cage, which was eventually perfected with the introduction of elastics towards the middle of the 20th century.

Bust bodice
Britain, 1820-29
Cotton, with Dorset thread button
V&A: T.341-1978

N.B. - CORRECT AT TIME THE LABEL WAS WRITTEN [2013-2015]
An ingenious design

The cut of this homemade bust bodice reflects the high waistline fashionable in the 1820s. The bodice is front opening and may have been designed to help its wearer breastfeed. The cups were originally larger and the bodice was later altered to reduce its size.

Bust bodice
Britain, about 1820-30
Cotton
V&A: T.341-1978
Given by Mrs C Ginsburg [16/04/2016-12/03/2017]

Materials

Cotton

Categories

Textiles; Women's clothes; Underwear; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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