I apologize but this post is a little nerdy. What can I say? I am kind of a nerd. Okay, I’m a huge nerd.
I originally intended to write about the history of the bra – who invented it, why it was invented, how it was sewn, ecetera, ecetera – but as I read about its history, I came across one article that suggested something cooler and more interesting than simply dates and important names. The author wrote that the shape and size of women’s breasts (I don’t hate that word as much as the “p” word but it’s still awkward to say and write, right?) and her bra was and is related to what was going on during each time period. When women were given the right to vote in the 1920s, they were considered equal to men for the first time in history. They took their emancipation literally, flattening their chest to look like mens by wrapping them with bandages. I already knew that body size and shape related to a particular time period (Monroe of the 50s, Twiggie of the 60s, Nicole Richie about 5 years ago) but I never thought the events that occur during a certain time period related to the shape of breasts and bras. Because it was to read and learn, I wanted to share it with you. Below, I give you a brief breakdown of how the size and shape of breasts and bras changed in each decade since the 1920s
1920s Like I wrote above, woman were considered equal to men for the first time when they were given the right to vote. They took their newfound freedom literally, emulating mens body with homemade bandages and flattening corsets that hid all curves and femininity. No waist shape or bust definition was in fashion.
1930s Hollywood was huge but cleavage was not. Because of the Hays Code, women were not allowed to show cleavage on screen. So celebrities such as Anny Ondra and Bette Davis stayed sexy by exposing their backs with plunging back necklines. Femininity and curves were in, and women flaunted it, but it was hidden and sans cleavage.
1940s World War II. As their husbands were away at war, women assumed men’s roles, working as doctors, managers, clerks, etc. Once again considered equal to men, their dress and bust definition, or lack thereof, resembled mens. The milieu of fashion at the time was androgynous and military-esque. No massive boobage was shown. Instead, women covered up and wore pants, collared shirts, and jackets.
1950s With the war over, the focus shifted to space. We were on a race to get to the moon and its influence spilled into everyday life. Cars like the Pontiac and Studebaker resembled rockets and buildings such as coffee houses, gas stations, and motels were built to look “into the future” with starbursts motifs, slanting roofs, and lots of steel, glass, and neon. The space age look also influenced fashion and consequently, the way women showed their goods. Cleavage and massive boobage was not in, it was a very conservative time period, but womens bust shape become pointed, resembling rockets, with the Bullet Bra being a very popular item.
1960s and 1970s To be young and youthful was the desire of all women. Woe to the woman who wanted to grow up, marry, and have children. Androgyny, thinness, and the no chest was the look to have (Jean Seberg, not Twiggy, was my favorite from this time period).
1980s and 1990s Going back to work, woman used their accouterments to say and achieve power (no shame in that, in my opinion). Silhouettes were missy and conservative but sexy – power suits cinched in waists, cupped the chest, and accentuated the shoulders. Boobs were shown, but in a very refined, corporate, and powerful way.
Now I think that no particular size is “in.” Cameron Diaz, Michelle Obama, Jenna Lyons, Maria Sharapova, Kate Middleton, and Penelope Cruz, all women with different cup sizes, are gorgeous in my opinion. Today, it’s more about what is right for each woman, what works for them, and being happy with that. Agree?