Old Pants and lost bras… Medieval style

Being unable to blog for a week has created quite a backlog of interesting things to post about, but at the top of the list is this recent discovery of a pair of men’s underpants and woman’s bra dating from the late 15th century (1460s-1490s). They were found stashed under the floorboards of Lengberg Castle in Austria’s East Tyrol along with thousands of other textile fragments.

There are medieval sources that mention “bags of the breasts” or “breast bands,” but there are no images illustrating brassiers and, until now, no known surviving examples. There are, however, some mediaeval images of men wearing similar types of underpants while bathing and swimming.

According to Beatrix Nutz, an archaeologist with the University of Innsbruck who made the find. “My first thought was… there aren’t such things as bras in the 15th century.” Skeptical, Nutz was only convinced when the results of a radiocarbon-dating confirmed the cloth was from the late Middle Ages. Read more detailed information about the find from the Innsbruck University press release.

About Jonathan

Jonathan Walford is a fashion historian and co-founder of the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario. The FHM maintains a collection of nearly 12,000 artifacts dating from the mid 17th century to the present. Jonathan has authored various books and museum catalogues, including The Seductive Shoe, Shoes A-Z, Forties Fashion, 1950s American Fashion, and Sixties Fashion.
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3 Responses to Old Pants and lost bras… Medieval style

  1. liz says:

    Am I the only one who thinks BEATRIX NUTZ would make an awesome band name?

  2. Jonathan says:

    I just thought they might name the underwear after her – like Haley’s comet — they could call it Nutz’ sacks.

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