September 28, 2005

"I dreamed I [?] in my Maidenform bra."

The greatest bra ad campaign of all time was the endlessly fascinating depiction of a woman out in the world doing something amazing, brazenly exposing her Maidenform bra. The absurd spectacle was justified by the notion that it was a dream -- a variation on all those dreams everyone's had where they are out and about naked. I remember seeing these ads when I was young and not quite understanding them. We kids just thought they were funny -- in 1962, we laughed at the Mad Magazine spoof -- but they were also early manifestations of feminism. You could be a powerful woman, out in the world and loving it. Structure you loosely hanging femininity with a quality foundation garment and go. Achieve your dreams.



What has that ad campaign become?
In one ad, a woman holds a baby, who, the implication is, she tried hard to conceive. The tagline: "Dreams do come true." Another shows a young couple on a beach, with the line, "I dreamed every day was Sunday." And some have a touch of the implied risqué - "Some dreams are best unspoken."
First thought: If you have a baby, you're not a "maiden." Maybe they should change the company name to "Matronform."

Second thought: I'm nostalgic for the vanguard feminism of the past! This ad campaign is reminding me of that story about women wanting to stay home with the kids that we were just talking about. Is this the spirit of the times? But, come on! What's the business sense of this? If I'm staying home with kids, that bra is coming off! A bra is for going out into the male-dominated world and achieving. As soon as you cross the home threshold, that bra is off. Right, ladies? What is the lag time for you between when you walk through the door and when you take off the bra? Five minutes, tops? Is it the first, second, or third thing you do when you come home?

Third thought: Maidenform really does make a great bra. You can waste your time trying on more expensive ones, but the Maidenform one will be better. And the new campaign seems to be about a much more comfortable bra, so maybe they are trying to reach the currently braless stay-at-homes.

UPDATE: Great discussion in the comments, including whether wearing a bra prevents or causes sagging and a Halloween costume idea. But I also wanted to update to say that I'm unhappy with the ad I've got pictured above (taken from the linked NYT article). It's clearly from the 1970s. I wish I had one of the older classic ads from the 50s and early 60s.

MORE: One of the commenters found this old ad:

73 comments:

Menlo Bob said...

I still can't get over the ability of Virginia Slims to become a feminist cigarette, even having a women's tennis tournament named after the brand. Cough.

Freeman Hunt said...

I must be weird. I wear one all the time except when going to sleep.

I do like the old ads better than the new ones though.

Slocum said...

If you have a baby, you're not a "maiden."

No, but mommies can aspire to a 'maidenform', no? I thought that was the obvious point of the name.

bill said...

Freeman said: I must be weird. I wear one all the time except when going to sleep.

Yeah, you sound weird to me...Oh...never mind.

Note to self: Assuming you know the sex of a writer based upon the name being used may lead to a more prurient interpretation than is warranted.

My apologies.

Joan said...

This post is a perfect example of why Althouse is my first daily read. A great mix of low and high culture, with humor and a perfect photo accompaniment.

I remember the original ads and how they always made me laugh. I always thought they were goofy. I didn't know they were still around in any form. And even though I've always remembered the name Maidenform precisely because of this ad campain, I've never owned a Maidenform bra that I can remember. It's Victoria's Secret for me -- by far the most comfortable and best-fitting bras I've worn, which is why I stick with them.

I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm out of my bra within 5 minutes of getting home, but I usually change into something for lounging as soon as is practicable, and off comes the bra. After years of nursing babies and pretty much having to wear a bra 24/7, I appreciate the freedom.

Freeman Hunt said...

Assuming you know the sex of a writer based upon the name being used may lead to a more prurient interpretation than is warranted.

Haha. Now that would have been interesting.

Ann Althouse said...

Slocum: Yes, of course that's the pitch: you imperfect women want the form of a maiden. My point is that the model in the ad is distinctly not a maiden. Normally the model matches the ideal.

bearing said...

If I'm staying home with kids, that bra is coming off! A bra is for going out into the male-dominated world and achieving. As soon as you cross the home threshold, that bra is off. Right, ladies?

You're kidding, right?

No woman with a D-cup or greater --- I think the cutoff is really C, but I'm trying to be conservative --- would make that statement, I am guessing.

Be said...

The old ads had so much more thought put into them. First, there're the gorgeous, splashy, technicolor scenes these partly-clad women are taking part in. Second, there's the whole pop-psychology Freud thing going on (how many of us have dreamt of showing up for work or having to give a talk while partially clothed or nude?). The new ads just don't have that kind of interest.

Interesting little side thing: the most hits I get to my site originate from an image search on "medieval maiden-"

http://bebere.blogspot.com/2005/01/new-bit-of-art-for-my-cubicle.html

**

Bearing hits the nail on the head with their comment on when the bra comes off. I'm always wearing one and have to do a whole battery of back strengthening exercises daily. It's either that or reduction surgery.

lindsey said...

Yeah, I don't take my bra off like that either. I also don't wear Maidenform bras because I feel unsupported without an underwire.

Something I have always wondered: does wearing a bra actually slow down sagging or not?

Jennifer said...

I must be weird, too, Freeman. I don't usually take mine off until I go to bed. But, then, I'm not the type to change my clothes when I get home, either. Even when I was working, I would take my heels off, but the clothes usually stayed. I guess I'm lazy about changing!

Jennifer said...

Something I have always wondered: does wearing a bra actually slow down sagging or not?

Something I've always wondered too, Lindsay. I'll tell you though, wearing a bra all the time does absolutely nothing to combat a year of nursing. Unfortunately. :)

Slocum said...

My point is that the model in the ad is distinctly not a maiden. Normally the model matches the ideal.

But, again, that's the point--she's not a maiden, but she has the form of one (check out the abs -- do they look like the typical abs of a woman who's had a couple of children?). The target demographics is not 'maidens' but those who want to look the part--so who better as a model than a recognizably adult face but the taut body of a teenager?

My Boaz's Ruth said...

Take off bra when you come home? Only if you're lucky (and small) it's UNCOMFORTABLE if you're "generously endowed" to go around without a bra. (bearing, yes this is true for C cups too)

In fact, when I exercise, I have to change into a sports bra or the jiggling around in a regular bra can get downright painful!

Now, if I went to bed as soon as I got home, then I could see taking it off...

Ann Althouse said...

1. Maidenform makes plenty of underwired bras.

2. I see women with huge breasts walking around my city without a bra all the time.

3. It's less a matter of size than inner structure. I think there is some evidence that wearing a bra all the time decreases your natural support.

4. If your breasts are causing you pain and requiring special exercises and so on, get the surgery! I would. It's not cosmetic. It's about comfort and pleasure.

5. Which is why I avoid wearing a bra whenever I'm not out riding around on a fire truck or ruling the world.

knoxgirl said...

Ann, you're making me think of the old "Playtex 18-Hour" commercials where the exasperated, busty woman gripes: "Day after day, I couldn't WAIT to get out of my bra!"

Anyway, I do like the old ads. They make me think of the "Enjolie" perfume ad (I can bring home the bacon...) and the Virginia "You've come a long way, baby" ads. They're burned into my brain from childhood, watching tv and flipping through my mom's magazines.

Jennifer said: "wearing a bra all the time does absolutely nothing to combat a year of nursing."

Say it isn't so!

vbspurs said...

Why do I feel this is a prurient thread, which the male readers feel half-curious, half-terrified to enter?

Ann asks:

Right, ladies? What is the lag time for you between when you walk through the door and when you take off the bra? Five minutes, tops? Is it the first, second, or third thing you do when you come home?

Depends. I am a 3-4-or-5x per day shower girl, so it's often off more than on.

But I have to agree with Freeman Hunt when she says it's on except for bedtime.

I have found though, that older women prefer the freedom of going braless, since I'm athletically built.

Perhaps, with age, sagging mammaries tend to chafe with a bra on.

*g*

Ann says:

"First thought: If you have a baby, you're not a "maiden." Maybe they should change the company name to "Matronform."

Correvt, my beloved Deconstructionist...BUT...the point people got below is that these matrons wish to have a maidenly figure.

Maidenform bras allegedly give you that covetted figure of yore.

I can't think of anything less enticing to buy than Matronform bras.

That's like Fruit of the Loom being marketted as "Fruit of the Droopy Balls".

Ann says:

Maidenform really does make a great bra. You can waste your time trying on more expensive ones, but the Maidenform one will be better.

I've never worn a Maidenform.

Back home, there used to be a lady who did bespoke bras in South Kensington (a White Russian emigré since passed on).

Having yourself fitted for a brassiere is a very interesting experience, and one that I erm, recommend (maybe in NYC?).

I still have two bras she made, and though my figure has changed, they are so well constructed, they still feel marvellous against my skin.

These days I stick to my namessake: Victoria's Secrets.

I also wear a fair amount of sport bras, which are very comfortable.

Cheers,
Victoria

Bruce Hayden said...

Now we guys know what women dream about.

vbspurs said...

Jennifer said: "wearing a bra all the time does absolutely nothing to combat a year of nursing."

Say it isn't so!

It's so, but don't worry -- frequent exercise to tone that region works.

Just ask my mother.

Cheers,
Victoria

Charles said...

I can't thank you, all of you, enough for being able to read this technical conversation of the finer points of bras. For most of us guys, we just appreciate them, and the rest is a mystery.

If I might though, I have wondered... What about Victoria's Secret wear?

Ann Althouse said...

I looked up this question of bras causing sagging breasts, which I'd read about before and found (CAUTION: photos of bare breasts at the link):

There are lots of studies showing that ligaments and tendons in limbs do atrophy when the limb is immobilized. Bras obviously prevent the the natural slight up-down movement of breasts when we walk, and let shoulders bear the weight of breasts. If breast ligaments behave like limb ligaments, it may be a matter of "use it or lose it".

The only study ever published on the subject of bras and sagging was done in 1991, in Japan. The study suggests that a bra can actually increase breast sagging rather than the opposite. The abstract says (emphasis mine):

'Eleven adult female subjects aged 22-39 years wore a certain brassiere for 3 months while anthropometry and moire fringe photographs on the anterior trunk were taken regularly once a week. After the 3 months, the brassiere was not worn for another 3 months. Then the measurements and photogrammetry were repeated for comparison using superimposed moire configurations. The results are summarized as follows. Regardless of slim or obese trunk, subjects with pendent breasts showed the highest degree of breast form "correction" from wearing the brassiere. In all subjects, after 3 months of brassiere constraint, the underbust circumference was smaller but the chest circumference became enlarged, the distance between the right and left nipples became wider, and the breasts tended to hang down. This change was more marked in obese subjects with pendent breasts. And when this type of subject wore a "well-fitted" brassiere for a long time, her breast form became developed, that is, her breasts hung down more."

Ashizawa K, Sugane A, Gunji T Institute of Human Living Sciences, Otsuma Women's University, Tokyo, Japan: Breast Form Changes Resulting From A Certain Brassiere Journal of Hum. Ergol.(Tokyo) 1990 Jun; 19(1):53-62.

The unspoken rules of the society may force you to wear a bra to work or to social occasions, but there's no need to wear one for the purpose of preventing sagging. It just won't work. Remember also that breasts will benefit from bra-free time, so it is good to take the bra off whenever you can.


See? All you doubters!

Ann Althouse said...

Sorry to screw up the link. Here. Again, it's "not safe for work."

vbspurs said...

Something I have always wondered: does wearing a bra actually slow down sagging or not?

Anyone who has ever watched African specials via National Geographic would not ask this question! ;)

-- My grandparents, who visited Africa various times, championing the Congo and other parts of the continent, would often go into the bush, where African ladies would crowd around my grandmother, agog at her still "taut" figure for a lady her age. I believe some even wanted to touch... --

Cheers,
Victoria

Chrees said...

Well, my wife doesn't read blogs so I'll have to answer for her.

She usually doesn't take hers off until she is changing for bed (she may not actually go to bed for an hour or so, though). Occasionally she will take it off earlier if she is having discomfort.

And if you're doing any correlation no cup size, she's an A.

vbspurs said...

See? All you doubters!

I wear a bra because it makes me feel sexy. É basta!

Cheers,
Victoria

Be said...

I remember hearing that the sagging has something to do with less tone in the pectorals.

Would rather go after the 'root causes' than put myself under the knife. The back was injured in a cycling accident and the chest weight doesn't help it. Proper support, along with watching the weight and strengthening exercises helps a lot. Breast pain? Cysts (something more common in larger-chest-types). Again, proper support helps a lot. I've seen marked improvement, too, since I seriously reduced my caffeine intake.

I've gotten used to being bound up like Joan of Arc, so don't mind it at all. If other larger-chested women are comfortable going about their business braless, that's good, too.

Ann Althouse said...

vbspurs: Yes, that's known as bondage.

Brendan said...

I see women with huge breasts walking around my city without a bra all the time.

That does it. I'm moving back to Madison.

vbspurs said...

vbspurs: Yes, that's known as bondage.

Potential Christmas Present List for Ann Althouse

[No way] Maidenform bras

[Forget it] Scorsese DVD collection

[X] Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits CD

[X] Pilates chest-expanders

Cheers,
Victoria

bill said...

Sports bras were invented in 1977 by Hinda Miller and Lisa Lindhal, two Vermont joggers who were tired of their breasts bouncing with each step. One evening in Lindhal's home, a male friend pulled a jock strap out of a laundry basket and held it to his chest, saying, "Look, a jock bra." They made the first sports bra by sewing two jock straps together.

The PDF also includes formulas for calculating natural bounce quotient (NBQ) and bounce minimization factor (BMF).

I'm with Charles in appreciating the technical nature of the conversation. Having said that, while much information has been implied, I am a little disappointed at the lack of actual data points being supplied to Ann's initial questions. It is not easy completing the spreadsheet.

Be said...

Recently, I whipped this up as a wedding shower gift. Just like the sportsbra, it has its origins in men's underwear. Thought that so neat.

bearing said...

Ann, if one *never* wears a bra, then one's ligaments will stay strong and going braless will presumably be comfortable.

But if you *usually* wear a bra, then taking it off when you get home will be uncomfortable.

So I stand, er, sag, by my statement.

Jonathan said...

Between brassieres and giant squid it's a bit hard to remain focused.

Nancy said...

All I know is after being invited to a pick-up basketball game at the tender age of 12 while bra-less, I swore I'd never be caught without one again.

Still waiting on another invitation though.

Ron said...

1. Maidenform makes plenty of underwired bras.

Do tell? Please. Go on.

2. I see women with huge breasts walking around my city without a bra all the time.
On Wisconsin! er, ah, in this case, Off Wisconsin! Next flight is when exactly? Must I wear that awful wedge of cheese on my head that is required by state law? (so they told me east of the Hudson) Is it true that efforts to change this law have not surpassed the Stare Frommage legal benchmark?

3. It's less a matter of size than inner structure. I think there is some evidence that wearing a bra all the time decreases your natural support. As my scientific skill at evaluating these things can't be worse the Lancet's 100,000 dead Iraqis, I concur with my esteemed colleague.

4. If your breasts are causing you pain and requiring special exercises and so on, get the surgery! I would. It's not cosmetic. It's about comfort and pleasure. [shuffles feet, whistles waiting for the next question]

5. Which is why I avoid wearing a bra whenever I'm not out riding around on a fire truck or ruling the world. Isn't this on Uncle Milties tombstone?

vbspurs said...

On Wisconsin! er, ah, in this case, Off Wisconsin! Next flight is when exactly?

Ron, you better have both hands on the table next time I see you reading this thread!

5. Which is why I avoid wearing a bra whenever I'm not out riding around on a fire truck or ruling the world.

Isn't this on Uncle Milties tombstone?

Close! J. Edgar Hoover's.

Cheers,
Victoria

P.S.: Awesome thread. LOL @ Nancy.

vbspurs said...

I still can't get over the ability of Virginia Slims to become a feminist cigarette, even having a women's tennis tournament named after the brand. Cough.

Actually, this is the real tragedy of this thread.

At least the feminists did nothing more than promote saggy titties.

By preying on the era's "liberating" ERA theme, the tobacco companies encouraged women to flaunt male-hierarchy traditions, and light 'em up in protest.

Disgusting.

Cheers,
Victoria (non-smoker)

Omnibus Driver said...

My mother's most daring Halloween costume ever was to wear her bra and girdle OVER a black turtleneck sweater and black knit slacks. What was she? Why, the Maidenform model, of course!

Be said...

Oh my goodness...Omnibus Driver, that is SO awesome! I now have my costume for the company party...though I do wonder how well I'll stand out what with all the "freudian slips" and everything. (Work in Human Services.)

somross said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ann Althouse said...

Yeah, Ominbus, thanks for the great costume idea! We should all wear that. Also, I hope the experience was amusing to you and not ... kind of horrible!

I remember seeing my parents dressed for a costume party where he was some sort of sheik and she was a harem girl in an unusually revealing outfit that seemed to be less of an official costume than some negilgee thing ordered from Frederick's of Hollywood. (The Frederick's of Hollywood catalogue was always lying around the house and I must say it freaked me out. You should have see the extreme bras in that thing back in the 60s!)

somross said...

My daughter made me try Victoria's Secret, and she was right (they do have lots of bras that are for unexciting everday wear, tucked neatly into drawers and organized by color and size, which is reason enough to buy them). I can't wait to get it off, though, at the end of the day. I think their main purpose is not even to "support" but to hide nipples. A bra that shows nipples through it says "Hey, I tried." (What a delightful thread this is!)

Ron said...

vis a vis Jonathan: Has someone yet Photoshopped a brassiere(Maidenform of course!) on a giant squid? And if not, what has happened to the Internet I used to love dearly?

Ron said...

Ann: Yes, at one point the Victoria's Secret catalog did look like the personal shopper order form for Lili St. Cyr, and now, well, it's just in the mall. What was once Betty Page becomes Glamour Shots.

Gillian said...

Speaking as someone who is a 38H, I dream of the day where I can go into the shower with my bra still on, and when I step out, it will miraculously dry within seconds. Although, to be fair, if I'm just sitting around, it's about the same either way. It's just when I start walking that it's a problem. And it seems to hurt my back a little more without a bra, too. Mainly because I think the bra distributes the weight a little more.

And also, the bras they sell in my size are all ugly as all hell. Seriously. It's like all the designers are going "We don't like you, so we're stuffing you into bras that doubled as bridge supports in past lives. By the way, the straps will be falling apart in a year or so, so you'll be stuck paying us another $80."

Although I have to echo the wonderfulness of getting a proper bra fitting. Especially at a store that specializes in that. (Department stores are okay, I guess, but I am eternally bitter over the time where they told me "Well, get a $50 DDD bra and get it resized." They're much more likely not to size you properly, in my experience.) I get myself resized each time I go in, just because I know my size tends to change a little, and the difference between a properly fitted bra and one that's even just a little off is amazing.

Be said...

Frederick's has changed quite a bit from the freak show stripper supply house they used to be. A former tenant where I currently live got their catalog. As a lark I took a look through it. Ended up buying something in the clearance section (wow, how they discount) and found that it was incredibly well-made and relatively conservative in terms of lingerie. (Was a bra and underpants set). Have since found that not only are their regular foundations well made, but their stockings are just about bullet proof.

Am not a fan of Victoria at all. My experience with them leads me to believe that they put one heck of a lot more money into marketing than actual quality product. (Had several - actually - four bras and four pairs of underpants - practically disintegrate after something like a half-dozen cold-water hand washes.)

As for harem costumes... a couple of my girlfriends who are professional dancers (one of whom's a costume designer) swear by dolling up the good ol' playtex bras. Fabric and fringe? JoAnn. Coins and other hardware? Chez Michael.

anne said...

I can't believe all of these women who love to wear their bras.

Jeez, Ann, I'm with you. I can't wait to take my bra off. And it stays off at home, unless we have company, of course.

vbspurs said...

Jeez, Ann, I'm with you. I can't wait to take my bra off.

If it's of any interest to someone, I just took off my bra.

Cheers,
Victoria

Ann Althouse said...

Gillian: H??? Shouldn't insurance cover reduction surgery at some point? It sounds debilitating!

Elizabeth said...

Wow! What a great topic! Some random responses:

Insurance is like a casino. It's not out to make your life better, not without some struggle. I have a friend who's been trying to get the surgery for years, and she's in pain. As a way of illustrating her dilemma, she acquired a prosthetic set of breasts, and asked her male friends to wear them. Only the 6'4" guy could do so for more than a half hour without discomfort. He enjoyed them very much, in fact.

Mine's off as soon as I'm in the door. I've used the "maneuver"--the ladies know what I mean--to relieve me of it while driving home. I'm a D, so there you go, whoever it was who couldn't imagine D-cups going braless. And I'm joyful on a day off when I can let the girls go free.

Maidenform is a tantalizing name, but I've always wished I could have a Bonjour Tristes bra, though I don't think there is such a thing. But does anyone remember the great Judy Holliday movie, "Bells are Ringing"? Her character sings, regretting coming to the big city:

I'm going back
where I can be me;
at the Bonjour Tristes
brassiere factory.
A little modeling on the side...


What a wonderful comedian and actress. This topic immediately brought her to mind!

A said...

Even though I am also large chested, I am in agreement with Ann...I can't wait to get that thing off as soon as I get in the door. My bra is usually lying around somewhere in the family room for this very reason! I work from home, so I'm lucky to have the sisters free flying most of the day. It is definitely a bit of a "tittie tittie bang bang", but not as uncomfortable as wearing that darn bra. The postman and UPS guy probably are appalled at my large, bra-less, breasts, but I'm sure they've seen worse.

I have to say, anyone who hasn't been personally fit for a bra should definitely do so next time they are shopping for one. We have a fantastic place here that's been around since the 70's that is just for bras and random lingerie.

The name of this little gem of a shop?

"Wizard Of Bras".

Jennifer said...

Gillian - Try figleaves.com. They have very pretty stuff in a huge array of sizes. An acquaintance of mine swears by them as she is a small woman with disproportionately large implants. Apparently, it's darn near impossible to find 32DDs in regular stores. But figleaves.com has her covered. (No pun intended)

vbspurs said...

I wish I had one of the older classic ads from the 50s and early 60s.

That's easy.

I'm working on a blogpost about pre-1950's advertising (a topic I find endlessly creepy/fascinating), and I found this handy site on my perusals:

Maidenform Bra 1954

If you want the one with the torpedo-shaped bras, you'll be in heaven.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

Upon perusing that site above, I saw these lingerie gems:

Warner Bra 1968

Why did women like so much pointiness in their brassieres? That's macabre.

1902 Corsets

What Great-Granny wore. Poor Great-Grandpappy.

58 Warner Bra

Pointy BUT strapless.

A small step for woman, but a giant eye-poke for mankind.

Mercury 28 Lingerie

1920's slim boyish Flapper look tagline:

"Enhancing your wayward figure, the better to look like your brother's"

Although that 1920 model is the one which comes closest to my Victoria's Secret sport bra, which I was wearing earlier.

I didn't even need to score the winning Women's World Cup goal, either.

Cheers,
Victoria

purple_kangaroo said...

Interesting . . . I used to not wear one when around the house and when sleeping, but after having my first child (and thereby increasing by about 4 cup sizes) it became too uncomfortable to even sleep without one. Sleep bras are a marvelous invention--soft and comfortsble, but just enough support.

When my mother had her first child (me) her chest muscles literally tore when her milk came in because she wasn't wearing a bra while in the hospital. Now she even wears her underwires to bed.

As someone else mentioned, if in doubt about bras preventing sagging over the long term, look at any documentary of people groups who have little or no clothing. It's fairly common for lifetime braless women to be able to nurse a baby in a sling on their back--they just throw the breast over their shoulder and the baby on their back happily nurses that way. Pretty convenient, but not my style.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, Victoria. I posted the old Maidenform ad on the front page. Those ads from the 50s and 60s remind me of what a problem all the seams on the cups were when you wore anything knitted. Some of the cups had a very harsh horizontal line across the middle. Some were completely covered in concentric circles of stitches. That looked like hell with a T-shirt. One more reason just to throw out the bra altogether.

Be said...

There used to be a site devoted to Maidenform ads up (had something like 35-40 of them), but it's since disappeared into the ether.

Though not nearly as comprehensive, this one is pretty good.

Have always loved the Audrey in Paris ad. There's a Cleopatra one out there that's pretty wild - kind of in the same trippy, technicolor vein as the Unicorn Tapestry one, though a fair bit older (I think). Have no idea what to make of this.

Simon Kenton said...

The torpedo bras -

What's happened here, I think, is what's happened in some other fields as well - advances in materials science and computer-assisted design. I got involved in trying to design and construct the perfect whitewater raft: has to have the perfect exterior shape, and functional diaphragms so when you burst a chamber the whole boat doesn't sink. It turns out that with materials that are inflexible in both planes, it is almost impossible to produce smoothly rounded curved surfaces except in a single plane, and far easier to work with conic sections. Hence those early bras. Materials that can be pre-molded before assembling are pretty much required to produce the modern look.

To present-day, US male eyes, the rounded look is common and generally thought attractive. The Funicello beach-blanket look, or the look of the screamies at Sinatra concerts, dual discrete conics covering the skies like ABM installations, is a little odd - how could anyone have ever wanted to peel one of those off a young lady of the time? But there's a parochialism of time as well as culture; each generation is the first that ever discovered sex, and each generation is amazed and somewhat disgusted that its parents and grandparents, solely by inference, must have done it.

vbspurs said...

Thanks, Victoria. I posted the old Maidenform ad on the front page.

Wow, first "the elusive" Juan Non-Volokh targets my Country Music Saves America post, now this!

Maybe I should play the Lotto today?

Those ads from the 50s and 60s remind me of what a problem all the seams on the cups were when you wore anything knitted.

Correct.

But also, the flairing Christian Dior-inspired "New Look" skirts, transformed in the US as poodle skirts, needed to have that enhanced chest area -- the better to counter-balance the bottom-heavy figure.

If you notice the simple lines of bras in the 1920's (which I linked to above), as well as the boxy shoulder pads of the WWII era, the bras then tended to be much less padded, and much much less torpedo-shaped.

Fashion may be many things, but it is oddly logical, given its own era incarnation.

Some of the cups had a very harsh horizontal line across the middle. Some were completely covered in concentric circles of stitches.

The better to hide the nipple, yes.

That looked like hell with a T-shirt.

I'm sure! Fortunately, t-shirt wearing-women only started in earnest in the 1970s.

That's when the craze for personalised licence plates, with their pithy sayings "Make Love Not Cookies", etc. took off in the t-shirt genre -- with press-on lettering.

Not coincidentally, the Frederick's of Hollywood flouncy bras gave way to Olga-bras, which were much more forgiving of figures.

One more reason just to throw out the bra altogether.

Ann, Ann. You are a lost case!

There is nothing sexier than appearing before a man clad in black knickers and a black bra.

Take away the bra, and you just have an awkwardly-dressed, droopy-drawers.

Cheers,
Victoria

Ann Althouse said...

"Knickers" -- I love that!

Ron said...

Really Victoria! You should also keep your hands visible for the rest of this thread! Unless they're descretly hidden behind the black knickers/bra combo...

Omnibus Driver said...

Another brief bra memory jogged by this whole discussion --

I had driven my Great Aunt out to a church in Cary, IL, where a young man who had been supported by her church in Ohio was being installed in his very first church out of seminary.

It was a very hot day, and my car didn't have air conditioning, so, as we were driving away from the dinner afterwards, I undid the hooks, pulled my arms through my sleeves and out of the straps, stuck my arms back out the sleeves and reached down my neckline to yank my bra off.

Great Aunt Dorothy was goggle-eyed. Then her eyes lit up like Christmas. Zip!!! Off came her bra, and the next thing I knew, she was hanging them off the sideview mirror on the passenger side of the car to "air them out."

I still get the giggles thinking about liberating that old gal!

Tanker J.D. said...

I still have very fond memories of an ex-girlfriend with C-cups that liked to go without a bra sometimes, even in public, especially with little tank-tops. Wow!

vbspurs said...

"Knickers" -- I love that!

A hilarious British TV moment featured a shot of the late Payne Stewart wearing his trademark plus-fours, which are, of course, called in America -- "knickers".

Famous American golfer guest-presenter:

"And down the fairway comes Payne Stewart, the only golfer today who wears knickers."

Riposted his BBC counterpart:

"I wouldn't bank on it, dear."

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

Really Victoria! You should also keep your hands visible for the rest of this thread! Unless they're descretly hidden behind the black knickers/bra combo...

Hah! Not all of us are the slaves of Onan, Ron. ;)

Cheers,
Victoria

Ron said...

Hah! Not all of us are the slaves of Onan, Ron. ;)

First off, Slaves of Onan would be a great name for a band! Who wouldn't want to be the bass player in such a band?

But I think the preferred term these days is not "slave", but "working partner."

I myself, harkening back to another era, prefer "Unindicted Co-conspirator of Onan.

vbspurs said...

First off, Slaves of Onan would be a great name for a band! Who wouldn't want to be the bass player in such a band?

Mmm, yes. Very punk.

I myself, harkening back to another era, prefer "Unindicted Co-conspirator of Onan.

Must. Not. Make. Tom. DeLay. Joke.

Cheers,
Victoria

Ron said...

Must. Not. Make. Tom. DeLay. Joke.


Indictments lasting longer than 4 hours of reading, please see your physician.

XWL said...

So in the most recent audible Althouse the good Professor mentions that male commenters have been shying away from this lively comment thread for fear of saying something inappropriate. (sounds like a challenge to me)

(here it goes) Boooooobies!

(phew, got that out of my system)

Two thoughts really, it is a strange moment, and one when you know that in the mind of your friend that you are officially desexed, when a female friend decides it's OK to greet you in a t-shirt while her friends are flying free (and not in a come-on/turn-on fashion).

On the one hand it's flattering that she is that comfortable in your presence, on the other it's an emasculating insult that she no longer views you as a possible suitor.

Second thought, if some women started wearing those torpedo shaped monstrosities again, would it end up being some sort of transgressive outre statement about the current state of femininity?

trishaispete said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jamesmatthew said...

Got a response before I could finish my sandwich. Apply online for credit cards here and get approved very fast, just like me.

Lidian said...

I am writing about the Halloween Maidenform ad in my Kitsch and Retro (aka Kitchen Retro) blog, which is devoted to old advertisements (and writing humorously about them - at least I like to think so)...thank you in advance, and I have linked to you of course.

http://kitchenretro.blogspot.com

All the best, Lidian

minun perhonen said...

If bras make your skin sweat or give you rashes (they do to me) you can switch to an organic cotton bra. They sell them at faeriesdance.com. They sell unbleached utilitarian ones but also sexy underwire bras, even padded ones, all made from organic cotton, with several of the styles made in Italy and France. For years I looked for nice natural bras online in vain, and finally this year found them at faeriesdance.com.