All Episodes

May 21, 2020 52 mins

Bras are loved and hated, sometimes at the same time. But as difficult and restrictive as they can be, they rescued women from a much cruel contraption: corsets. The question remains, though, do women need bras at all?

Learn more about your ad-choices at

See for privacy information.

Mark as Played

Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:01):
Welcome to Stuff you should know, a production of five
Heart Radios How Stuff Works. Hey, and welcome to the podcast.
I'm Josh Clark and there's Charles W Chuck Bryant and um,
it's just us again, it's just us. We've lost Jerry.

I'm in the studio like I wasn't the last one,
but it's still a ghost studio. There's no one here
except for Tommy Chong and the radio or the record player. Right, sure, good,
let's just get that. We said that, Um, we have
a somebody poised to like scratch the needle off the

record several episodes ago, and that it was Tommy Chong
who who job it was to do that? Now? That's right? Good, callback,
Thank you. Talk bras Yeah, we're talking bras Man, which
I appreciate it when we do stuff like this, episodes
like this, because we have to try harder because we're men,
you know, sure the usual it's the only time we

have to try harder in life. Sadly that is kind
of true. Um, but we we haven't shied away from
topics that have very little to do with us, like
um courses. We did one on how Courset's work. Do
you remember totally did a whole episode on coursets. Geez.
We did one on female puberty. Yeah, footbinding. Yeah, we've

done a lot of them. So this is just three
one and the same three is a lot when it
comes to this kind of stuff. Yeah, no, I'm just kidding.
And and uh we we did mention doing one on
menstruation not too long ago, and we got a bunch
of supportive emails saying like, yes, guys, please please do that,
like there's no reason why you should. Please, I've been
menstruating for fifty years and I still don't understand it.

Please explain, Yeah, exactly. So, actually we have not gotten
an email, although we wouldn't know if we had, you know,
uh yeah, because our email servers down. Sorry if you've
been bounced everyone. Yeah, we're working on it. So we're
talking Bras, which is short for Brazier, which doesn't have

a definite origin as far as we know. We think
that it came about in the twentieth century, early twentieth century.
I think it first appeared in print in nine seven
or something like that, and that in French it means
one of two things. It means either arm covering, which
is I think derived from like medieval armor, French medieval armor,
I don't know. And then the other thing I saw

was a child's vest, which that to me is just lovely.
If that's what they're trying to say with the bra,
that it's like a child size vest that you wear
around your over your breasts. I love that idea. You
want to know something funny. For the first in minutes
researching this, this was put together by our pal Dave

brus I kept thinking, why is ruse Why does he
keep talking about brasseries? Why does he keep talking about
quaint little French restaurants. That's funny, It's very close. It
looks like Brazier. It does well yeah, yeah, um yeah
it does. I think if that I was just a
little further towards the end, we would be talking about

casual French restaurants, the t g I Fridays of France. Well,
that's that's better than my experience. For the first thirty minutes,
I was researching nothing but carbraws. Oh god, the Lebras,
remember those? No, I think there was a Lebra, which

was one of the big popular models at the time
for like Porsches and stuff like that. I don't remember
that at all. You know, my dad very stupidly bought
a Porsche when I was in high school. Oh no,
with that food truck money, with that big, big public
school teacher money. He went out, he went out and
bought a Porsche, and and surprised my mom and the

rest of the family. They sweet Porsche nine eleven, like
a new one that no one was allowed to like
breathe on. No, it wasn't new, but he he very
quickly went out and this is very my dad, And
like the next week he had like the Porsche is sad,
the Porsche glasses, the Porsche hat, and uh, we didn't

have that for very long. I think I drove it
one time, like around the block, and he was like,
and it was. They were not fun cards to drive.
They were very difficult to drive. Yeah. Yeah, They're all
about being in as one with the road and if
the road is not so great, then it's not not
very fun. Yeah. But I will say piggybacking on this story, Um,

I've been watching the TV show red Oaks. Have you
ever seen it? I have never even heard of it.
I had either It's It was an Amazon show that
ran for three seasons about sort of like Cat Shacky.
It's a kid who works at a tennis club in
the eighties and um, very very eighties show, and the
drug dealer drives this really sweet Porsche. Remember those? Is

that the one like the Lotus is free? Yeah? Well
it's yeah, the Risky Business car. Okay, I never saw
that movie. Oh really, yeah, dude, you need to see
Risky Business. Great movie. IM I've got a list going.
It's really good. It's really good. But anyway, the nine
eleven gets all the you know, all the headlines. But

that was so sweet, and I was like, man, I
wonder what you could get eighties fo I bet it's
not that much. And it looked it up how much?
Well there was a range like you can get one
that's in not greater shape for like twelve thousand dollars
or up to sixty grand for a cherry low mileage one. Right.
I think that's pretty much the same with all vincage cars.

I was looking at Pinto station wagons different ends of
the spectrum. There's about four or five mint condition Pinto
station wagons in existence that are really expensive. The rest
are exactly what you would expect. That's funny. So we're
talking bras today. Obviously we just wanted to get rid

of anybody who might benefit from listening to this, so
we talked about portions and stuff. Yeah, so the bras,
the modern bra has only been around for about a
hundred and fifty years. And Dave makes a really good
point of the fact that this thing that's only been
around for a hundred and fifty years has been one
of the most complicated garments in the history of the world.

I think, yeah, not necessarily in its designer manufacture, but
in its relation to society as a whole totally. So
you've got, um, apparently a completely and utter lack of bras.
But as women's ordered to play sports a little more,
it was okay for them to wear bras I think

in the twentieth century um, And in fact, it was
a woman who invented the sports braw Um two women actually,
I think in ninth queven Um. They invented what was
called the jog bra from two jock straps that they
put together. But what's you know, it's kind of a funny,
cute little origin story. But they ended up like revolutionizing sports,

Like women were allowed to play sports. I think Title
nine have been passed a couple of years before this,
But the fact is you couldn't play sports because there
wasn't much support out there for you. So to invent
the sports brawl was tantamount to introducing women in practice
into sports. It's pretty huge. It is in the history

of the brawl also incorporates um. Fashion Um. It incorporates
societal norms and how they changed, so did the bra,
how women changed over the years and UH and their
own rights over their own comfort in their own fashion, um,
taking back back um, and it really kind of everything

in between. The bra is a very complicated under garment,
and undergarment it is. It is very complicated. UM. What
I was hardened to see those that today apparently and
for the last several years, it's been all about comfort
and realness and finding like a brawl that fits. And

apparently I was very surprised to find this that that
has not been the norm that especially in America at least,
brawl makers have made like X number of sizes. And
if your breast didn't happen to fit the brawl that
was on you, there's something wrong with your body. Because
these are the standard sizes and this is what we're selling.

And so women have for a very long time had
a lot of women have had braws that just do
not fit them because they just can't find them in America.
And that's kind of led to this revolution in brawl
making and also braw sizing that has um allowed for
women to have much better, much more comfortable fits with bras.

And I'm just glad for that. Yeah, me too. Uh.
The average American woman supposedly owns six bras. Um there
are officially there are twenty different styles of bras that
you can buy. And there's this great quote here. It's
from a from a book called Uplift Colon the Bra

in America by Jane Farrell Beck and Colleen Gao, And
this sort of really pinpoints the um what you're trying
to do with the bra and why it's so tough
to get a great fit and one that really works
for everybody. Uh. Brasseries, Oh wait, braziers must do more

than fit a multitude of bodies. They must accommodate the
same body as it changes through the monthly cycle and
the life cycle. They must provide for movement of the
torso and arms in many directions without chafing or binding
without slipping out of position. And as if that were
not enough, braziers must retain their own structure throughout multiple
wearings and launderings, must not abraid in contact with clothing,

must remain as a rule, inconspicuous beneath the outer clothing
while harmonizing with a desired silhouette, and must be priced
to sell to many customers. There's no wonder that hundreds
of attempts have been made to design the ideal breast
supporter over the past one hundred and forty years that
says at all, It really does. It is a lot
more complicated than say, boxer shorts. Yeah, those are easy.

So um, there's also a lot of money to be
made in it. Um, just I saw just the sports
brawl industry alone is worth like seven billion dollars a year.
There's a lot of money made from braws and so
as a result, about six million of them mermaid every year. Um,
there's about twenty six thousand different bra patterns in existence.

When you said twenty different styles, that's like racer back
or demi cup. That like large category of brawl as
far as like different patterns and types of browsers, tens
of thousands of them, um, and each one has a
lot of different moving parts. I saw forty different parts
from straps, clasps, underwire, all that stuff. Um. And that

it takes months and months of dozens of people working
together to to create a new bra. It's not just
like a new thing. So there's a lot of thought
and time and effort and money going into braw production.
And then from what I've seen, there's virtually an equal
amount of time and effort and thought going into braw

purchasing too. From what I'm seeing, it's like not the
easiest thing in the world to buy a bra if
you want the brawl to be one that is your
new favorite. Yeah, did you uh? Did you have any
flashbacks of young Josh while you were researching this? So
like Sears catalog type of stuff, practicing, practicing unhooking bras

by wearing them myself, or simply you know, the eighties
was a generally more naive moment in time before the internet,
Like se seeing a lady in a bra leaning against
a tree was a pretty big deal. Yes, well should
we should we take a break and then dive into
the history. Yeah, let's let's I think it's a good idea. Okay,

we'll be right back with the history of the brasserie
right after this. Well, now we're on the road, Ivan

in your truck. Want to learn a thing or two
from Josh can Chuck you should know, all right? Okay, So,
as everybody knows, there was a battle between Otto von
tits Ling and Philippe Brazier over who invented the bra

and is um the great Bette Midler instructed all of
us we know who won that battle because we all
you wear a Brazier, not a Titsling. Was that a
Bette Midler? Bit is from beaches? Oh? I saw that
in the eighties when it came out, and not since then.
I don't think I've seen it since the eighties either,

But I guess that really really stuck with me. Yeah.
So the real first patents for the bra was filed
in eighteen sixty three. Um Brazier the the word. It
wasn't going till the twentieth century, But that wasn't the
first bra. Um Dave Sin even a photo with this research,
which is pretty great, of a Sicilian mosaic called bikini girls.

And if you look up bikini girls. Well, you're gonna
get a lot of results. But if you look up
Sicilian mosaic bikini girls, you will see a mosaic from
about four hundred to three hundred b C. That shows
these young athletic women wearing bikinis, clearly wearing what looks
like a bra or bikini top. But it's basically exactly

what pro beach volleyball players were today. Like, no joke,
it looks exactly like it, but strap less, right, yeah,
I think a lot of them were strapless stuff too.
And also there is short shorts like even with a
butterfly cut. If you look closely, they have a like
a that cutter on the side. Um, I mean like
it looks exactly like pro volleyball players. And this is

twenty four hundred years ago, so it seems like they
were wearing what's called an uh epodesmi or strophium depending
on whether you speak the Greek or the Latin. But
it's basically like um, like a cloth wrapped around and
then nodded in front to provide support during athletics. That's right. Boom,

So medieval times come along. There were European physicians who
were writing about something called breast bags. Uh. And there
was a medical text from hundred the royal surgeon in France, Uh,
Honoree de Mondeville said, some women insert two bags in
their dresses, adjusted to the breasts, fitting tight, and they

put them into them every morning and fastened them when
possible with a matching band, not a marching band. No,
that's that's sort of a bra and built in bra
or breast bag. Just say that ever again, Okay, I agreed,
So that's from undred, right, and then you would think, okay, well,

the things kind of started hard and fast from that
point on, and as far as history is concerned, no,
like about a hundred years later, the like all broad
technology was abandoned in favor of the corset. And that's
what we thought for a very long time until there

was a discovery in two thousand and eight, but it
wasn't publicized until I think two thousand and twelve or
fifteen that an archaeologist from the University of Innsbruck, Beatrix
newts Um I guarantee that's how her name is spelled,
or said she was excavating in Austrian castle, Langberg Castle,
and she found four medieval brawls that were six hudred

to seven hundred years old, made of linen. Do you
remember when this like this was news, This made the
rounds When you looked at this, this garment, you're like,
that is a brawl. Like it doesn't matter what context
do you have, It doesn't matter. You just show somebody
a picture of this without any prep or anything like
that and say what is this. They would say, well,
that's a brawl. You'd say, that's right, it's a seven

year old brawl that we did know existed. Like that
whole design. We had no idea that it existed because
we thought everything had gone. But basically from I'm sorry
to say this one more time, breast bags, two corsets,
and that that there was no transition, but in fact,
there was a transition to the modern brawl that was
abandoned in favor of the corset. Um quite unfortunately. Really yeah,

and there was even that. They even found a picture
there of a thirteen year old boy with the brawl
in his head saying he was Mickey Mouse. That's right.
So that was proof. So we covered the corset, like
you said, in our full length episode, so you can
go listen to that. But um, very briefly, the corset.
The word means corpus in Latin for body, and women

would wear these corsets that were um, they had wood
or bone, later on that had steel, and it would
basically shape their torso it would sense that waist in
and it would flatten their breast. And they were very restrictive.
They were very painful, and they did actual real damage
to their bodies and at times, oh yeah, like they

had trouble digesting, had trouble breathing. Um, you remember, you
could train your waist to be to stay that small.
We talked a lot about this in the corset episode.
But but the big problem with corsets, aside from all that,
is that they supported the breast from the bottom up.
And the thing that really differentiated braws from everything else

up to that point was that they went the other way.
They used the They harnessed the power of the shoulder
to hold the breasts up from beneath, not push them up,
but hold them suspend them. Um, almost like a pair
of breast bags hanging down over your shoulder. There you
go again. I can't help myself now I've been told

not to do something. These are the great episodes where
I just sometimes like to sit back and watching dig
into a big giant hole turn into a thirteen year
old boy with the Sears catalog. So this was going
on the course. It's were terrible. Women hated them, and
by the mid nineteenth century, like you said, they said,

you got these strong shoulders, why don't we use those? Uh?
Like the next that's right, um. And the first modern
bra patent was filed in eighteen sixty three by a
guy named Lumen Chapman, and he was from or he
was living at least in Camden, New Jersey, and he
had this very first over the shoulder designed uh. And

it was tightened in the back like a corset, but
it was softer. It was made of stretchy fabric, and
it had these cups. Uh. They were called breast puffs
in the in the patent for the extra support and comfort.
I think that is radically better than breast bags. He
said it again. So Luman Chapman. Strangely enough, his design
did not take off, although he does have the first patent. UM.

But a woman named Hermany Cadole, great name. She created
something um that was basically like a corset, but it
was a corset cut in two and the top half
very strongly resembled a modern bra, and she called it
the libyan etra or well being um, and her stuff
still didn't quite take off, I think because she was

married to The corsets still the general course of design,
which made sense because at the time, up until the
early twentieth century, if you didn't wear a corset, you
were basically advertising that you were you had loose morals.
So the course it was just that whether you hated
courses with all of your your might, and a lot
of women did, you still had to wear them just

to be socially acceptable. So it would take, as far
as legend goes uh, a very um, free spirited, very
wealthy socialite named Mary Phelps Jacobs to basically say nuts
to that, I'm tired of these course it's there there
those whale bones stays or protruding through this kind of

sheer dress that I want to wear to this dance.
Let me try something else. And she apparently instructed one
of her maids, because again she was a wealthy socialite,
to um to make what we would consider the first
modern brawl out of some silk handkerchiefs and ribbon. Yeah,
she was only nineteen. Um, we should point out she
moved to Paris later on and changed her name to uh,

is it CARESSA Crosby? I think so or Caress I'm
not sure if you pronounce that last either, but that
was her her final name. So Crosby had this idea
when she was nineteen, and it was before a an
event that she was going to a debutante ball and
she called it the Backless Brazier and people at the

party loved it. I imagine women especially loved it. And
she got a patent for this thing in nineteen fourteen
and very unwisely sold the idea for a mere fifteen
hundred bucks to Warner Brothers Corset Company. Yeah, who turned
around in the next thirty years made ten thousand times
that amount from that patent. So it's a about thirty

eight grand that she was paid today for the patent,
and they made about two and twenty five million dollars
in today's money off of it. But she was rich anyway,
right in bed. Yeah, she was rich anyway, And she
was a super interesting person from what I saw. She
basically any um famous author today that was writing in
the twenties, she was like real good friends with and

she herself wrote to I think she had a publishing
house called black son Um. But she wrote for a
while pornography on commission from a Oklahoma oil man who
couldn't get enough of her stuff. Like that was one
of the many things that she she did in her life.

She wrote pornography amazing. So World War One turns out
to be a good thing, uh if you're a woman,
because steel is in short supply. The US joins the
war and says, you know what, we gotta have all
the steel in this country go toward war munitions and
battleships and stuff. And American women said, oh great, because

you know what has steel, my corset. Let's get rid
of it and ditch these things for good. And elastic
fabrics started coming into the market. Latex came into the market,
and so all of a sudden, American women could finally
get rid of the corset, uh, in favor of this
new uh, this new invention called the brazier. And of
course we don't want you to be too comfortable, ladies.

You might want to at least put a girdle on
just to keep everything nice and cinched in, which is
basically like Hermony Cadell's um two piece corset. But whatever,
patriotism freed them from that that um social expectation of
having to wear a corset, which is pretty great. But
I saw that the steel that the course it's freed

up equaled twenty eight thousand tons, enough to make two
battleships in World War One. That's a lot of corset steel. Yeah,
so this led to like a complete revolution in undergarments
for women. Right. So in the twenties, um the one

of the first bras was basically there was a company
called boische Form which held the breasts down and back
back into the left. Wait, what was it called boische
Form b o y s h Form, And from what
I can tell, they were basically saying boyish form, but

they shortened it by removing the eye and changed it
to boiche for like they'll never know, right, no one
will ever get this trickery. But there was because of
that flapper style was very much slight and boy ish.
But then along came a company in the late twenties
called maiden Form, and they named themselves maiden Form to

kind of contradict boiche Form because one of their big
things was, hey, man, let's let's not be ashamed of
these boobs and try to hide them. Let's accentuate these
things in Boy did they ever Yeah, I mean in
the World War Two and the age of the big
buxom Hollywood bombshell era, people like Jane Russell, uh, then
in the fifties with Marilyn Monroe, and it's all this

you know, sort of male ideal at the time. Is
is what we're getting at is the bras sort of
followed suit. Um, but when these women came on the scene,
that's when if you look at TV shows from back
then or advertisements, you see these bras that were very pointy,
and I think they even called them bullet bras or
torpedo bras. And that was sort of all the rage,

just because the the sort of I mean, Hollywood is
always sort of driving fashion in that way, and it
certainly did back then because tweaky coming along in the
sixties are very sort of slim, androgynous. Look. Um, all
of a sudden in the sixties, bras were being thrown
in the trash can. They're like, we don't need bras
at all. Yeah, And then um, there was a guy

a designer who is an avant garde designer named Rudy
gern Reich, and he came up with um, the no
Bra in nineteen four, which is basically like what you
would consider a brawl today. It's it's meant to just
kind of be there and be supportive, but also kind
of fade into the background, which huh, like a quiet

friend exactly. Um. But that's like the antithesis of the
torpedo or bullet brawl, which was would take your eye
clean out if you got too close to it. But
this is you can kind of see like we've gone
from twenties where boy form was or boiche form was
all the rage and to the exact opposite, to back
to the twenties, and then it kind of swung back

toward you know, um, large busty, popping out kind of
thing even more than before. Whereas because that was not
covered by a sweater which torpedoes, that was all about
accentuating the boobs upward and to the left. Um. And
then the wonder Bra kind of really helped move that along.

And what was really interesting is I remember when the
Wonder Bral came out in America, it was in the nineties,
But it turns out that in the far off land
of Canada it had been invented thirty years before. It
just took thirty years to get down to America and
become poverty. Isn't that weird? Yeah, that is totally weird.

And Canadians are too nice to insist, like, by the way,
we have a better bra up here, right, And then
now things have swung back again to where they're like,
do you even need a bra? And a lot of
people are like, I don't think you do. It's kind
of a personal preference. Yeah, it certainly can be. But
also I think there's still very much a stigma. Yeah, yeah, absolutely,

it's true. There's just no arguing that right now. No.
I mean, if you go, if you're a woman and
you go waltzing into a conference meeting at your business
and your and you're not wearing a bra, then someone's
going to say something. I guarantee you exactly. Yes. But
I think also even if you even if somebody didn't

say something, or it was okay with everybody else, from
what I can tell, there's a certain psychological um security
blanket aspect to wearing a brawl. If that's what you've
been raised to do to wear a bra, and to
not do that would take a real psychological shift in
how you feel and how how secure you feel without it.

And I was reading about training bras because I didn't
feel like I was enough of a creep as it
is you're like boy. But from what I was reading
about training bras, they even if the the girl doesn't
need a brawl yet for any real purpose, it provides
like some kind of psychological thing that they're like, Okay,

I'm keeping up with my peers who actually be or
I'm going to like the eighth grade dance or probably
say sixth grade dance or something, and I want to
wear this dress, but it's gonna look weird if I'm
not wearing a bra. So I need a brawl so so.
And I think that kind of psychology continues on well
into adulthood too, so that it would be weird, feel

weird to not wear a bra if that's what you've
done your whole life. Yeah, And I think it also
has to do with your comfort level with your with
your breast siye um, you know, not to get too personal,
but like if I had a dime for every time
Emily was like, you gotta go get the delivery food
at the door because I'm not wearing a bra um

and you know, Emily has bigger boobs. So there I
said it. She might be more comfortable if she had
smaller breasts. Um, but I don't know. I'm gonna go
home and ask her. Though, Okay, I feel like we should,
um sit in silence for five minutes. So you mentioned

maiden form. Uh, well, we'll get to this later. But
they were um they were founded in nine by William
and Ida Rosenthal, who invented or introduced at least the
letter based cup sizing system. But um, we'll get to
that weird bit of voodoo in a minute, because I
still have no idea what's going on there. But in

actually it wasn't. In a year from nineteen sixty three
they had a very very successful print ad campaign called
I Dream, which you can go look up online, and
these ads which were very racy at the time. Of course,
we're women doing things topless with just their bra on.
They would have on like a regular uh skirt that

you would wear in that era, but no top, no blouse,
and that they were dreaming. One lady was dreaming of
being a firefighter and she was fighting fighting a fire
with with no shirt on. Or um I dreamed I
went back to school in my maiden form, Bra, and
it's a woman in her brought a grammar school desk.
Or I dreamed I won the election in my maiden

form Bra. She's taking the stage on election night. And
beyond these being and old advertisements are all funny and
awful in every way, but beyond this being funny and awful,
it truly is kind of gross that what they're showing
are things that are dreams for these women, like having
a regular job and things that they may not have

been allowed to do at the time. Yeah. So but
in at the time, like, yes, they were trying to
sell their brawls, and yes the there was like a
certain amount of sex appeal to the whole campaign. But
in their defense, like this is a very like progressive,
liberating ad campaign. It was conceived by three women. Yeah,

and on one hand, and also it's not like they
were like ha ha, you couldn't possibly hold public office
because you're a woman. It was like like it was
showing that women dream of this kind of stuff, that
they want to do this kind of thing, and that
at least in their dreams, they're capable of doing this,
rather than we can't even talk about that. It's so preposterous,
we couldn't even possibly create an ad campaign. So it

was kind of like progressive in that sense. It's in
retrospect that it's really cringe e. But really what you're cringing,
It's not like maiden Form was making fun of women
for not being able to to do these things. It's
more an indictment of society for them being restricted from
these things at the time. Yeah, that that's This is
one of these definitely where you could come at it

from a lot of angles and have opinions about it. Um,
but we should read they had a contest in uh
with the public about new dream ideas and the winner
from ninety seven and Dave God bless you for finding
this was I dreamed I danced the hornpipe with Sindbad
the sailor. Don't you know what that means? That's another

thing you can approach from a bunch of different angles.
I think we should approach a message break and then
we'll talk about the the wacky world of brass eyzing
right after this. Well, now we're on the road driving

in your Chuck, want to learn a thing or two
from Josh can Chuck. It's stuff you should know, all right,
all right, Chuck. So, one thing that I've read is
that American braws don't fit um and that there's a
reason for that, something like there's a statistic that of women,

American women at least are wearing brawls that don't fit.
And supposedly that's kind of made up and based on
anecdotal evidence, but it's been bandied about for so long
that people take it as gospel. But regardless of whatever
the statistic may or may not be, American braws are
known for not fitting. And it's because American bra manufacturers

have basically said, we've created this standard measuring scale and
it just as economically efficient for us to mass produce
you know, this size to this size, and if you
happen to fall outside of that size, your s O
L and it's your fault. There's something wrong with your
body for not adhering to the standard norm body size norm.

This is largely becoming a relic of the past, but
it's still from what I can tell, very much present.
When you go braw shopping. Yeah, and and you know,
I've I've heard this plaint from Emily over the years,
and uh and a lot of women that, yeah, it's
tough to find a braw that really fits well and
feels good and does everything it's supposed to do. And

then that's why when you find one, you know, you
order like six of them. But there are these days
before we get into the sizing. UM that is changing
some now with these more bespoke companies UM that have
more custom custom made, tailored to your size kind of things.
And I wonder why it took that long for someone
to think outside the box and challenge, challenge big brazier

and say, hey, you're doing it wrong. I bet there's
a lot of money to be made from bespoke braziers. Yeah,
from what I understand, there is. And although it's just
now happening in the US, apparently it happened I believe
back in the nineties in the UK with UM a
movement called braw fitting one word, where it's basically like, look,

two measurements is not enough to to create a perfect brawl.
You need a bunch of different measurements under different conditions.
You need to take your shirt and brawl all the
way off. We need to get in there and um,
but when we're done, you're going to have a well
fitting brawl. And it's just now catching on in the
United States. And what's surprising is that you know it's

just now catching on. But this, this technique in the
sizing standard that we use here in the United States,
goes back to the I think the twenties, if not
the thirties. Yeah, yeah, is when they found it made
in for him and introduced this cup sizing. And I'm
not going to pretend to fully understand this, but I

can read, Oh you got it. Yeah, yeah, you go ahead,
though I want to hear your too. No, no, no,
because that when what will happen is I'll read and
then you'll do it again in your own words. And
then this episode is fifteen minutes longer than it should be.
All Right, you got my number, and my number happens
to be thirty four. See. So the cup system is

what it's called. It consists of two measurements and the
difference between them. So the first measurement is the overbust,
which is the circumference of your chest all the way
around your body across the nipples. That's your overbust measurement, right, Okay, Now,

if you'll also measure right below the breasts all the
way around your body, that's your underbust. And if you
subtract those two, you're going to come up with a
difference in inches or centimeters depending on where you are
in the world. And you can use that as part
of a handy table to say, oh, there's a three
inch difference. That means that I'm a C cup, right,

because that's where the letter comes from. Right. The difference
between your underbust and your overbust generates some knowledge about
the volume that your breasts are going to take up,
which is your cup size. Generates knowledge exactly, so that
underbust measurement is also used. And the that's the number
that comes before it. So if you're a thirty four C,

that means your chest is thirty four inches around at
the rib cage under your breasts. And then if you're
a C that means that there's a three inch difference.
That means that you are thirty seven inches around your
chest at the nipples, and so you'd be a thirty
four C and that those two measurements are supposedly like

all you need to come up with a fitting braw
but apparently that's just not true. Yeah, I mean that
all makes sense. Um. I think the thing that confused
me is the sister sizing. I understand that too. Thing.
Uh So if you have a thirty six C and
a thirty four C brazier, that's not the same cup
size because a thirty four C is the only true C.

So if you want to go up a band size
but not the cup size, you buy a thirty six
B or thirty eight A. So the volume of the
cup size is relative to this or conference of the band. Yeah.
I mean it's as simple as that. I think the
problem the breakdown is is that this sister sizing thing
has not been widely publicized to women, and so that

they think like, well, if the band is a little
tight and I'm a thirty six C, that I need
to go up to a thirty eight C. And that's
just not the case. Yeah. In music, you want to
type band and braziers you don't. Well, Supposedly, part of
that brofitting trend that started in the UK is that
UM suggests that the tight band is the key to

a good fitting brawl, that that's where most of your
support comes, and that most women opt for a band
size that's a little too loose. But the point is
your cup volume does not go up when you go
up a band size. It doesn't have to. So that
means that a thirty four C, if you go down
and band size, you would go up and cup size

and your cup size would stay the same. So the
thirty four C is the same as the thirty two D,
and then the other way, a thirty four C is
the same as the thirty six B. And once you
understand the sister sizing thing, then you can actually use
this two measurement standard to find a brawl that actually
fits better. That's right. And if you're wondering how this

all works, it works with uh with bra fitting models.
There are women that get paid money to go in
and get fit for thousands and thousands of bras and
to give feedback. And this all start well, didn't completely
start there, but in the nineteen seventies there was a
singer named Dorothy Gallaghan from New York answered an ad

for brofitting model and they said, you know what, I
know this sounds sexist, and we probably even though it's
the seventies. Shouldn't be saying this in an office, but
you have the perfect thirty four B s and that's
the standard size which we're designing our bras on. So
for almost twenty years, Dorothy Gallaghan was the model in

New York in the Lingerie district that would work ten eleven,
twelve hour days trying on thousands and thousands of bras
and giving her feedback so they could go back to
the sewing machine and redo it. Yeah, because that's the
other part of the problem with bras that don't necessarily fit,
in addition to not making larger sizes and cup volumes
and smaller sizes and cup volumes like they're based around

one woman's pair of breasts, and her breasts became the
standard for the brawl industry in the twentieth century, so
that if you have if you could create a bra
that fit Dorothy Gallaghan correctly as a thirty or four B,
you could use that to basically grow out from either way.
That's right. So that's a that's a real problem for

women who have different shapes and sizes, and it's really
sad to me to think that they were told for
decades that you know, if you're broad doesn't fit, it's
something something's wrong with your body. Not exactly. Well, here's
the thing too, it's not just breast size. It's that
you know, how how how big your back is and

how like the braw it holds the breast the cups do.
But you know, it has to do with your shoulders
in your back and your armpits and everything else. Like
there's so many nuances to everybody's body, men and women
that I mean, I think until recently they were trying
to do the best they could, but it was pretty narrow, uh,

the options that women had. Yeah, I get the impression
that they were not trying to do the best that
they could. That they basically said, when we release a
new brawl, it comes in these sizes, Well, doing the
best they could for a huge industry that had to satisfy,
you know, tens of millions of different kind of bodies,
Like they were kind of hand strung. You can't have

FO fifty brass sizes and manufacture on that scale. Yeah,
you can't mask manufacture. But I think that's what's being proven,
Like you're saying, by this new bespoke revolution and you
just you can't get that big, although now you can
get that big because it's a bespoke and because you
can say, hey, uh, download our app and take these
measurements using your phone and upload it and then we'll

just custom make some braws for you. And I also
read that um Poland makes really really good fitting braws
as well. I read it. I think it was a
New York Times article about interesting and the author traveled
to Poland to verify this herself, and she said she
didn't find the perfect brawl, but she came away with
like four or five bras that were awfully close, way

closer than she'd ever had before. It's funny, after all
these years, I still remember to not put a bra
in a dryer because of the movie had big in
the angry inch. I don't remember that part now. I
never thought that's why I don't remember that. It's great
John Cameron Mitchell, who also a friend of Movie Crush.
He's a friend of Knowles. He played head Vig and

you know, created the character and directed the film. But
there's a scene where he's uh, he's screaming, do not
put a bra and a dryer. It's warps And I
guess that's true, because ever since then I've been like,
I don't know. If I'm doing laundry, I should not
put a braw in a dryer. It does do some
weird things to it. Although you can also put it

in a laundry bag, and I think that keeps it
from like wrapping around stuff, which makes it a lot
lasts longer. You can't put it in a dryer. Oh right, yeah,
like when a bra like collects everything else in its wake. Exactly. Yeah, So, um,
I don't think we can not talk about Victoria's Secret. Man,

if I had a dime for every time you said
that to me, or is many dumb, dumb guys call
it Victoria's Secrets? Yeah, dummies. So Victoria's Secret actually started
out husband and wife um founded it in the seventies
in the San Francisco area because the husband had gone
to like the department store to buy laundry for his
wife and was treated like a scale for it. Right,

even in San Francisco in the seventies, I guess, so,
all right, department stores have always been a certain way
no matter where you're right, So he said, well, we
need to create like a lingerie store that's made for
men to go by for women, and that's what they created,
was Victoria's Secret, and um it was semi successful. And
then they sold to a guy named Leslie Wexman. I

believe it was Wexman who had founded the limited and
um he turned he took it. I think he bought
it for a million dollars and within two decades it
was worth two billion dollars. And um, the guy who
founded it with his wife, they ended up getting divorced
and he he um died, broke and jumped from the
Golden gate Bridge. Sadly enough. Wow, But Victoria's Secret dominated

the um the braw industry in the United States for many,
many decades until very recently when it was overthrown by
women who said enough, well it's funny, you know. Roy
Raymond said, you know what we need is a store
where men can go in and buy sexy lingerie for
their wives. And what he failed to hear was the

sound of tens of millions of women across the country saying, no,
you don't right. Well, that's what that's what um, Leslie,
I think it's Wexman. That's what he figured out was
that this this thing was a good idea, but they
had missed the mark and that they were marketing towards
men and they were completely isolating women because he said,
like these Victorious secret stores were lit with like, you know,

weird kind of reddish lighting and there were velvet couches
and oriental rugs. And he said it wasn't this was
like in the in the early seventies and or late
seventies and early eighties. Yeah, that's what I'm talking, Okay,
all right, So he said, man, I would have loved
to seen this. He said, they were they were Victorian,
not like a Victorian um uh foyer. They were like

a Victorian brothel basically, and it was like just chasing
women away, attracting men, but women by you know, underwear
for themselves way more than their husbands do. And so
he kind of revamped it a little bit and turned
it into something that women felt comfortable and actually wanted
to go into. Yeah, it's interesting. According to that book

Uplift that we mentioned earlier, Uh, despite Victoria's Secret in
its history, UH, women have really been key to the
development of bras in the United States. I think over
twelve hundred u S patents have been awarded for braws
between eighteen sixty three and nineteen sixty nine, and half
of those have been held by women. And in the industry, uh,

they have always held pretty important positions and been well
regarded designers and managers, UM specialists, merchandizing, UM, promotional product managers.
It is one industry where it seems that has not
been Here's a product for women run entirely by men,
and rightfully so I would say, yeah, absolutely so. UM.

There is also a very famous legend as far as
Bras go, which is the burning of Bras at night demonstration. No,
it's a myth. There was. There was, in fact a
demonstration outside of Miss America pageant in Atlantic City in night.
It was the brainchild of Carol hannish Um who helped

basically at this moment give birth to the second wave feminism.
And they actually had a trash can that said freedom
trash can and women threw stuff into it that they
considered like shackles of the patriarchy, like false eyelashes, bras lingerie,
that kind of stuff. But there was no burning. That
came from a reporter who suggested that they burn it

as a nod to the burning of draft cards, but
no one actually burned this stuff, but it became kind
of set in stone as is true, even though it
really wasn't. That's right, big fat. And then lastly, chuck, i'
got one extra thing. You're ready? Ready? Do you have
anything else? I don't? Do you need to are a brawl?

It's a long standing question and apparently the answer is no,
at least as far as a study in France, a
fifteen year study of three women I think they are
aged eighteen to thirty five, and the study found that
women who did not wear bras developed more muscle muscle

tissue in their breasts, ostensibly to provide support that the
brawl wasn't there to provide, and that by proxy, if
you did wear a brawl, your muscle or the muscles
in your breasts were less prone to develop and thus
you would have um more likely to have breasts that
sag or pendulouar breasts than you would have if you

didn't wear a brawl, kind of like you're making your
breast sink or swim by not wearing a braw. So
it's just one study, but it is pretty pretty um
surprising that they found basically the opposite of conventional wisdom,
because most people say if you don't wear braw, your
breast will get saggy, and that's apparently not true. Interesting,
And I also ran across a weird question on Google.

You know it has like suggested searches what happens if
we squeeze breast? I don't know. I didn't even bother
to look. Just the question itself was good enough. Oh man,
do you got anything else? I got nothing else. What
about the bro or the man's ear? Oh yeah, I

can't forget the brou Well, since we said bro, it's
time for listener mail everybody. I'm gonna call this more
on the days. Hey, guys, love the show. Thanks for
all you do. It's especially meaningful in these crazy times.
I'm currently hanging out in northern Japan on a trip
that changed from a between chops snowboarding sabbatical in December. Too. Well,

I guess I live here for now, so you're bating.
This is not a bad place to be. I would
imagine it's good for you, Adam. I'm sure you guys
get a tumul got a ton of similar emails to this,
But in the day's episode you mentioned the type of
toilet with a sink sprayer attachment nearby, and my experience
this is a super common thing in households and many
lower budget hotel accommodations in the Philippines and other Southeast

Asian countries. It is awesome and commonly referred to as
the bum gun by foreign travelers and expats. I don't
know the etymology of bum gun, so I'm not sure
if that term has been adopted domestically in various bum
a gun enthusiast countries. But like one ring or Spidy's abilities,
that has great power and must be wielded carefully. So

bum gun wisely, my friends, that is from Adam takes
a lot Adam uh and best of luck to you
in your new home. Uh. Hang tight, buddy, things will
pass eventually. If you want to get in touch with
us like Adam did and talk about bum guns or
brawls or what have you, you can email send us
an email to stuff Podcasts How Stuff Works dot com.

Yo Stuff You Should Know is a production of iHeart
Radio's How Stuff Works. For more podcasts for my heart Radio,
visit the iHeart Radio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you
listen to your favorite shows, h

Stuff You Should Know News

Advertise With Us

Follow Us On

Hosts And Creators

Josh Clark

Josh Clark

Chuck Bryant

Chuck Bryant

Show Links

Order Our BookRSSStoreSYSK ArmyAbout

Popular Podcasts

Death, Sex & Money

Death, Sex & Money

Anna Sale explores the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation.

Stuff You Should Know

Stuff You Should Know

If you've ever wanted to know about champagne, satanism, the Stonewall Uprising, chaos theory, LSD, El Nino, true crime and Rosa Parks, then look no further. Josh and Chuck have you covered.

Music, radio and podcasts, all free. Listen online or download the iHeart App.


© 2024 iHeartMedia, Inc.