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600-year-old linen bras found in Austrian castle

This undated picture publicly provided by the Archeological Institute of the University of Innsbruck, shows a medieval bra. The bra is commonly thought to be little more than 100 years old as corseted women abandoned rigid fashions and opted for the more natural look. But that timeline is about to be revised with the discovery of four brassieres from the Middle Ages in a debris-filled vault of an Austrian castle. The find, formally announced Wednesday July 18, 2012 by the University of Innsbruck, is being described by historical fashion experts as revolutionary because it indicates that the bra was already worn around 600 years ago before being abandoned for the stiff stays dictated by the form-hugging clothing that become the mode for centuries. This undated picture publicly provided by the Archeological Institute of the University of Innsbruck, shows a medieval bra. The bra is commonly thought to be little more than 100 years old as corseted women abandoned rigid fashions and opted for the more natural look. But that timeline is about to be revised with the discovery of four brassieres from the Middle Ages in a debris-filled vault of an Austrian castle. The find, formally announced Wednesday July 18, 2012 by the University of Innsbruck, is being described by historical fashion experts as revolutionary because it indicates that the bra was already worn around 600 years ago before being abandoned for the stiff stays dictated by the form-hugging clothing that become the mode for centuries. (AP Photo/University Innsbruck Archeological Institute)
July 18, 2012
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VIENNA—A revolutionary discovery has hit the world of underwear: Women 600 years ago wore bras.

The University of Innsbruck said Wednesday that archeologists found four linen bras dating from the Middle Ages in an Austrian castle. Fashion experts describe the find as surprising because the bra was commonly thought to be little more than 100 years old as women abandoned the tight corset.

Hilary Davidson, fashion curator for the London Museum, says one specimen in particular "looks exactly like a (modern) brassiere."

Archaeologist Beatrix Nutz says the garments were unearthed in 2008 but did not make news until now. She gave a lecture on them last year but the information stayed within academic circles until a recent BBC history program.

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