Sometimes you realize you have missed a very interesting find. And sometimes you find unexpected things from the wonderful world of internet.
Like underwear for instance.
I was searching for information and hints on binding the chest because I’ve been quite fed up with using modern bras under my medieval clothes. (I must confess I came upon some pretty interesting but highly useless stuff with the keywords ‘breast’, ‘chest’ and ‘bind’…) The binding of breasts has been mentioned in medieval literary sources: the full-bosomed ladies benefit from the support it gives and the smaller ladies can add some extra padding. The sources claim the binding is either healthy or hazardous. (I can check the sources when I get next to the right book.)
Over the years I’ve used binding at events but I was using a modern, flexible bandage then. It did work but it had nothing to do with authenticity. I have also tried a long narrow strip of linen but it was not flexible at all and therefore didn’t work. Next on my list of options is linen cut on bias. Or…
While searching, I came upon an abstract for a lecture Bras in the 15th Century? A Preliminary Report and I nearly screamed out loud. Unfortunately I have yet to find the whole lecture. The name of the researcher Beatrix Nutz helped me to find a blog by a fellow costuming blogger with a photo of underpants found from the same excavation site. Sadly, the link to an article written by Nutz returned a 404 Not Found notification. Bummer.
If there are equally good photos and information about the bras, I might ditch my plans of binding!
A working link to the article is www.uibk.ac.at/urgeschichte/mitarbeiterinnen/harald-stadler/schloss-lengberg/harpfe-dec-2010.pdf and pages 30-31.(Thank you Marc!)
And more information has started to show up! Here are a few links:
Medieval lingerie? Discovery in Austria reveals what really was worn under those tunics
More on medieval bras – new details on 15th century find
According to the radiocarbon dating, the finds are from the 15th century – but that doesn’t make them at all less interesting!