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Brian, is this show just for Baldy's? Charlie No.
Harrows will enjoy this, too. I mean, the show is about perception, insecurity, vanity, just like human stuff.
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Welcome to Stuff You Should Know, a production of NPR Radio's HowStuffWorks. Hey, and welcome to the podcast, I'm Josh Clark, and there's Charles, Chuck and Bryant, and it's just us again. We've lost Jerry. I'm in the studio like I was on the last one, but it's still a ghost studio. There's no one here. Sure.
Except for Tommy Chong and the radio or the record player. Right. Sure, good joke that we said that we have a somebody poised to, like, scratch the needle off the record several episodes ago. Yeah, I remember. And that it was Tommy Chong who that job. It was to do that now.
That's right. Good call back. Thank you. We talk brass. Yeah. We're talking Brozman, 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, you're the usual.
It's the only time we have to try harder in life.
Sadly, that is kind of true.
But we we haven't shied away from topics that have very little to do with us, like corsets. We did one on how corsets work and we totally did a whole episode on corsets cheese. We did one on female puberty.
Yeah, foot binding. Yeah, we've done a lot of them. So this is just in three.
One in the same three is a lot when it comes to this kind of stuff.
Yeah, no, I'm just kidding. And 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.
I've been menstruating for fifty years and I still don't understand it. Please explain. Yeah, exactly.
So actually we have not gotten that email, although we would know if we had you know. Uh, yeah.
Because our email server is down. Sorry if you've been bounced everyone. Yeah. We're working on it. Yep. So we're talking Broz which is short for brasier, which doesn't have a definite origin as far as we know. We think that it came about in the 20th century, early 20th century. I think it first appeared in print nineteen eighty seven or something like that. And then 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, Donelle.
And then the other thing I saw was a child's vest, which dad to me is just lovely, if that's what they're trying to say with the bra, that it's like a child sized vest that you wear around your over your breasts.
I love that idea. You want to know something funny? Yes. For the first ten minutes researching this, this was put together by our pal Dave Roos.
I kept thinking, why is Ru's why does he keep talking about brasseries? Why does he keep talking about that funny, quaint little French restaurant? That's funny. It's very close. It looks like brasier. It does. Well, yeah.
Yeah, yeah it does. I think if that I was just a little further toward the end, we would be talking about casual French restaurants, the TGA Fridays of France.
Well, that's that's better than my experience. For the first thirty minutes I was researching nothing but car bras.
Oh God. The Libra. Remember this? No, no, no.
I think there was a lubra, 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.
With that food truck money for that big, big public school teacher money.
He went out, he went out and bought a Porsche and surprised my mom and the rest of the family. I could eat a sweet Porsche 911 like a new one that no one was allowed to, like, breathe on.
No, it wasn't new. Doesn't matter. But he he very quickly went out. And this is very my dad. And like the next week, he had, like, the Porsche Izod, the Porsche glasses, the Porsche hat. And we didn't have that for very long. I think I drove it one time, like around the block. And he was like and they were not fun car to drive. They were very difficult to drive.
Yeah. Yeah. They're all about being as one with the road. And if the road's not so great then it's not not very fun. Yeah.
But I will say piggybacking on this story, I've been watching the TV show Red Oaks. Have you ever seen it? I have never even heard of it. I hadn't either.
It's, uh, it was an Amazon show that ran for three seasons about sort of like Caddyshack. It's a kid who works at a tennis club in the eighties and a very, very eighty show. And the the drug dealer drives this really sweet Porsche nine twenty eight. Mm. Remember those is that the pointy one. Looks like a lotus esprit.
Yeah. Well it's Yeah. The Risky Business car. Okay. I never saw the movie.
Oh really. Yeah I did.
You need to see Risky Business. Great movie. I mean I've got a list going. It's really good. It's really good. But anyway the nine to like the nine eleven gets all the you know all the headlines but that nine. Twenty eight was so sweet and I was like, man, I wonder what you could get an eight nine twenty eight for. I bet it's not that much. Oh look it up. How much?
Well, there was a range like you can get one that's in not great shape for like twelve thousand dollars or up to 60 grand for a cherry low mileage one. Right.
I think that's pretty much the same with all vintage cars. I was looking at Pinto's station wagons before and ends of the spectrum.
There is 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 Broz today. Obviously, we just want to get rid of anybody who might benefit from listening to this. So we talked about Porsches and stuff.
Yeah. So the Broz, the modern bra has only been around for about 150 years and Dave makes a really good point of the fact that this thing that's only been around for 150 years has been one of the most complicated garments in the history of the world, I think.
Yeah. Not necessarily in its design or manufacture, but in its relation to society as a whole. Yeah, yeah, totally. So you've got apparently a complete and utter lack of bras. But as women started to play sports a little more, it was OK for them to wear, because I think in the 20th century and in fact, it was a woman who invented the sports bra to women. Actually, I think in 1947 they invented what was called the jog bra from two jockstraps that they put together.
But, 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 the 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 bra was tantamount to introducing women in practice into sports.
It's pretty here.
It is in the history of the bra also incorporates fashion. It incorporates societal norms. And how have they changed? So did the bra, how women changed over the years and and their own rights over their own comfort and their own fashion. All right. Taking that back and it really kind of everything in between the bra is a very complicated garment and undergarment. It is.
It is very complicated. What I was heartened to see, though, is that today, apparently, and for the last several years, it's been all about comfort and realness and finding like a bra that fits. And apparently I was very surprised to find this, that that is not been the norm, that especially in America, at least, bra makers have made like X number of sizes. And if your breasts didn't happen to fit the bra 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 bras 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 bra making and also bra sizing that has allowed for women to have much better, much more comfortable fits with bras. And I'm just glad for that.
Yeah, me too. The average American woman supposedly owns six bras. There are officially there are 20 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 Gore. And this is sort of really pinpoints the 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.
Brasseries O8 Brassieres must do more than fit a multitude of bodies. They must accommodate the same body as it changes through the monthly cycle. In 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. Reserves must retain their own structure throughout multiple waring's and laundering must not abrade 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.
It's no wonder that hundreds of attempts have been made to design the ideal breast. Over the past 140 years, yeah, it says it all. It really does. It is a lot more complicated than, say, boxer shorts. Yeah, those are easy. So there's also a lot of money to be made in it, just I saw just the sports bra industry alone is worth like seven billion dollars a year. There's a lot of money made from bras.
And so as a result, about 600 million of them are made every year. There's about 26000 different bra patterns in existence. When you say 20 different styles, that's like razor back or demi cup that like large category of bras as far as like different patterns and types of browser's. Tens of thousands of them. Oh, sure. And each one has a lot of different moving parts. I saw 40 different parts from Strap's class, underwire, all that stuff 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 bra production. And then from what I've seen, there's virtually an equal amount of time and effort and thought going into bra purchasing to from what I'm seeing, it's like not the easiest thing in the world to buy a bra if you want the bra to be one. That is your new favorite.
Yeah. Did you did you have any flashbacks of young Josh while you were researching this, like Sears catalog type of stuff? Sure.
Practicing, practicing unhooking bras by wearing on myself or simply, you know, the 80s was a generally more naive moment in time before the Internet, like, oh, yes, seeing a lady in a bra leaning against a tree was a pretty big deal. Yes, it really was. In 83. Yeah. 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.
OK, we'll be right back with a history of the Brasserie right after this.
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OK, so as everybody knows, there was a battle between Audobon Kissling and Philip Brasier over who invented the bra and is the great Bette Midler instructed all of us, we know who won that battle because we all wear a brassiere. Now, that link. Was that a Bette Midler? Bette is from Beaches.
Oh, I saw that in the 80s when it came out. And not since then.
I don't think I've seen it since the 80s either. But I guess they stuck with you, fell apart, really, really stuck with me. Yeah.
So the real first patent for the bra was filed in 1863. Brasier, the word it wasn't coin till the 20th century, but that wasn't the first bra. They've since 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 going to get a lot of results. But if you look up Sicilian mosaic bikini girls, you'll see a mosaic from about 400 to three hundred BCE that shows these young athletic women wearing bikinis clearly wearing what looks like a bra or bikini top.
It's basically exactly what pro beach volleyball players wear today. Like no joke.
It looks exactly like it. But strapless, right? Yeah, I think a lot of them were Sharpless stuff, too, and also very short shorts. Like even with a butterfly cut, if you look closely, they have a like that cutaş on the side. I mean, they can look exactly like pro volleyball players and this is twenty four hundred years ago. So it seems like they were wearing what's called an epidemic or strophe them depending on whether you speak the Greek or the Latin.
But it's basically like like a cloth wrapped around and then nodded in front to provide support during athletics. That's right. Boom time.
So medieval times come along. They were European physicians who were writing about something called breast bags. And there was a medical text from thirteen hundred. The royal surgeon in France, Hornery, them on the veal, said some women insert two bags in their dresses adjusted to the breasts fitting tight, and they put them into them every morning and fasten them when possible with a matching band, not a marching band.
No, that's that's sort of a bra and a built in bra.
Sure. Or breast bag. So. Right. So that ever again.
Okay, agreed. So that's from thirteen hundred. Right. And then you would think, OK, well things kind of started hard and fast from that point on. And as far as history is concerned, no.
Like about 100 years later the the like all braw 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 2008. But it wasn't publicized until I think two thousand, 12 or 15 that an archaeologist from the University of Innsbruck, Beatrix Neutze, I guarantee you, that's her name is spelt or said she was excavating an Austrian castle, Langberg Castle, and she found four medieval bras that were 600 to 700 years old, made of linen.
Do you remember when this like this was news? This made the rounds? I do it. When you looked at this this garment, you're like, that is a bra. Like it doesn't matter what context 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 bra. You'd say, that's right. It's the 700 year old bra that we didn't know existed like that whole design.
We had no idea that existed because we thought everything had gone basically from I'm sorry to say this one more time, breast bags to corsets and that that there was no transition. But in fact, there was a transition to the modern bra that was abandoned in favour of the corset, quite unfortunately.
Really? Yeah. And there was even that they even found a picture there of a 13 year old boy with the bra on his head saying he was a Mickey Mouse.
Yeah, that's right. So that was proof. So we covered the corset, like you said, in our full length episodes. So you can go listen to that. But very briefly, of course, it the word means corpus in Latin for body and women would wear these corsets that were they had wood or bone later on that had. And it would basically shape their torso, it would cinch that waste 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. You remember, you could train your waste to be to stay that small. We talked a lot about this and of course of the episode. But but the the big problem with course is, aside from all that, is that they supported the breast from the bottom up. Yes. And the thing that really differentiated bras from everything else up to that point was that they went the other way.
They used the harness, the power of the shoulder to hold the breasts up from beneath, not push them up, but hold them, suspend them 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 watch it dig into a big giant hole, turn into a 13 year old boy with the Sears catalog.
So this is going on. The corsets were terrible. Women hated them. And by the mid 19th century, like you said, they said you've got these strong shoulders. Why don't we use those?
And the first modern bra patent was filed in 1863 by a guy named Lumin Chapman. And he was from or he was living at least in Camden, New Jersey. And he had this very first over the shoulder design. And it was tied into the back like a corset, but it was softer. It was made of stretchy fabric. And it had these cups. 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 luvin Chairman.
Strangely enough, his design did not take off, although he does have the first patent. But a woman named Hermione Carol screenName, she created something that was basically like a corset, but it was a corset cut two and the top half very strongly resembled a modern bra. And she called it the Libyan etra or well-being in her stuff. Still didn't quite take off, I think, because she was married to the corset still or the general course design, which made sense because at the time, up until the early 20th century, if you didn't wear corset, you were basically advertising that you were you had loose morals.
So of course, it was just it whether you hated corsets with all of your your might in 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, a very free spirited, very wealthy socialite named Mary Phelps Jacobs to basically say nuts to that. I'm tired of these corsets. They're those whalebone stays or protruding through this kind of sheer dress that I want to wear to the dance.
Let me try something else. And she apparently instructed one of her maids because, again, she was a wealthy socialite to to make what we would consider the first modern brothel out of some silk handkerchiefs and ribbon.
Yeah, she was only 19, we should point out. She moved to Paris later on and changed her name to is it Caressa?
Krosby I think so. Or Caress. I'm not sure if you pronounce that last E, I'm not sure either, but that was her final name. So Krosby 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 brassiere and people at the party loved it. I imagine women especially loved it. And she got a patent for this thing in 1914 and very unwisely sold the idea for a mere 1500 bucks to Warner Brothers corset company.
Who turned around in the next 30 years, made 10000 times that amount from that patent. Oh, yeah. So it's about thirty eight grand that she was paid today for the patent and they made about 225 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 famous author today that was writing in the 20s, she was like real good friends with and she herself wrote to I think she had a publishing house called Black Sun, but she wrote for a while pornography on commission from Oklahoma.
Oil man who couldn't get enough of her stuff because of me is one me another success story.
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 if you're a woman, because steel is in short supply. The U.S. joins the war and says, you know what, we got to 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 fabric 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 in favor of this new this new invention called the brasier. 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 Hermione Cadel's to piece corset, but whatever patriotism freed them from that, that social expectation of having to wear corset, which is pretty great. But I saw that the steel that the corsets freed up equaled 28000 tons enough to make two battleships in World War One.
And that's awesome. That's a lot of course, SEAL. Yeah. So this led to like a complete revolution in undergarments for women, right? So in the 20s, the the the one of the first bras was basically there was a company called Boyish Form which held the breasts down and back back into the left.
What was it called. Boyish form, BAEO y S.H. form. And from what I can tell, they were basically saying boyish form, OK, that's what I was about. But they they shortened it by removing the eye and changed it to boys like they'll never know.
Right. No one will ever get this trickery. But there was because the flapper style was very much light and boyish. But then along came a company in the late 20s called Maidenform, and they named themselves Maidenform to kind of contradict boyish 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. And 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 then in the 50s 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 bra sort of followed suit. 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. Yeah. And that was sort of all the rage just because the the sort of I mean, Hollywood's always sort of driving fashion in that way. And it certainly did back then because Twiggy coming along in the 60s with her very sort of slim, androgynous look, all of a sudden in the 60s, bras were being thrown in the trash can. They're like, we don't need bras at all.
Yeah. And then there was a guy, a designer who is an avant garde designer named Rudy Gerner Reich, and he came up with the no bra in 1964, which is basically like what you would consider a bra today. It's meant to just kind of be there and be supportive, but also kind of fade into the background, which is quite different. It's like a quiet friend. Exactly. But that's like the antithesis of the torpedo or bullet bra, 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 20s where boyfriend was or boyish form was all the rage and to the exact opposite to back to the 20s. And then it kind of swung back toward, you know, a large busty popping out kind of thing even more than before.
Whereas because that was not covered by a sweater or torpedos, it was all about accentuating the boobs upward and to the left. Um, and then the Wonderbra kind of really helped move that along. And what was really interesting is I remember when the Wonderbra 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 30 years before.
It just took 30 years to get down to America and become pretty funny in that.
Weird. Yeah, that is totally weird. Yeah. 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, 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 you're. 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 OK with everybody else, from what I can tell, there's a certain psychological security blanket aspect to wearing a bra, if that's what you've been raised to do to wear a bra.
Oh, for sure.
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 nearly a boy.
But from what I was reading about training bras, 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, OK, I'm keeping up with my peers who actually growing up or I'm going to like the eighth grade dancer's proces, sixth grade dance or something. And I want to wear this dress. But it's going to look weird if I'm not wearing a bra, so I need a bra.
So so and I think that kind of psychology continues on well into adulthood, too, so that it would be weird or 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 size. Sure.
You know, not to get too personal, but like, if I had a dime for every time Emily was like, you got to go get the delivery food at the door because I'm not wearing a bra and you know, Emily has bigger boobs. So there I said it.
She might be more comfortable if she had smaller breasts, but I don't know.
I'm going to go home and ask her, though, OK?
I feel like we should sit in silence for five minutes.
So you mentioned Maidenform.
We'll get to this later. But they were they were founded in nineteen twenty nine by William and Ida Rosenthal, who invented or introduced at least the letter based cup sizing system. Yeah, but 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 wasn't even a year from 1949 to 1963, 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, were women doing things topless with just their bras on. They would have on like a regular skirt that you would wear in that era. But no top. Right, no blouse. And they were dreaming. One lady was dreaming of being a firefighter and she was fighting a fire with with no shirt on or I dreamed I went back to school in my Maidenform bra and it's a woman in her bra to grammar school desk or I dreamed I won the election in my Maidenform bra.
Jesus poem. She's taking the stage on election night and beyond.
These being an 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 bras and yes, the there was like a certain amount of sex appeal to the whole campaign. But in in their defense, like this is a very progressive, liberating ad campaign. It was conceived by three women. Yeah. In 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. But really what you're cringing. It's not like Maidenform was making fun of women for not being able to do these things is more an indictment of society for them being restricted from these things at the time.
Yeah, that's this is one of these definitely where you could come at it from a lot of angles. Sure. And have opinions about it. But we should read they had a contest in nineteen fifty five with the public about new dream ideas and the winner from 1957.
And Dave, God bless you for finding this was I dreamed I danced the Hornpipe with Sinbad the sailor.
You know what that means.
That's another thing you can approach from a bunch of different angles.
I think we should have. A message break and then we'll talk about the the wacky world Abrar rising right after this.
Well, now we're on the road driving in your truck. Why not learn a thing or two from Josh and Chuck? Good stuff you should know. All right. All right, Chuck, so one thing that I've read is that American bras don't fit and that there's a reason for that, something like there's a statistic that 80 percent of women, American women at least, are wearing bras 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 bras are known for not fitting. And it's because American bra manufacturers have basically said we've created the standard measuring scale and it's 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, you're so well 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 bra shopping.
Yeah. And, you know, I've heard this complaint from Emily over the years and and a lot of women that, yeah, it's tough to find a bra that really fits well and feels good and does everything it's supposed to do. And that's why when you find one, you know, you order like six of them. Yeah, but there are these days before we get into the sizing that is changing some now with these more bespoke companies 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 to challenge big brasier and say, hey, you're doing it wrong. I bet there's a lot of money to be made from bespoke brassieres. 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 90s in the U.K. with a movement called BRA fitting one word where it's basically like, look, two measurements is not enough to to create a perfect bra.
You need a bunch of different measurements under different conditions. You need to take your shirt and bra all the way off. We need to get in there. And but when we're done, you're going to have a well fitting bra 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 technique in the sizing standard that we use here in the United States goes back to the the I think the 20s, if not the 30s.
Yeah, yeah. Nineteen twenty nine is when they found it Maidenform and introduced this cup sizing. And I'm not going to pretend to fully understand this, but I can read. You got it. Yeah. Yeah. You go ahead though. I want to hear your tip. No, no, no. Because that when then what will happen is I'll read and then you'll do it again in your own words. And in this episode is 15 minutes longer than it should be.
You got my number in mind. Never happens to be 34. 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 over bust, which is the circumference of your chest all the way around your body, across the nipples that you're over bus measurement. Right. OK, now, if you'll also measure right below the breasts all the way around your body that you're under bust.
And if you subtract those two, you're going to come up with the 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 lettering comes from. Right. The difference between you're under bus and you're over bus generates some knowledge about the volume that your breasts are going to take up, which is your cup size generates generates knowledge.
So that under bus measurement is also used in that. That's the number that comes before it. So if you're a 34 C, that means your chest is thirty four inches around at the ribcage 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, that 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 bra, but apparently that's just not true.
Yeah, I mean, that all makes sense. I think the thing that confused me is the sister sizing. I understand that two thing. So if you have a 30, 60 and a 30 Forese brassiere, that's not the same cup size because a 30 40 is the only true see. Yeah. So if you want to go up a band size but not the cup size, you buy a 36 B or a 38 A.. So the volume of the cup size is relative to the circumference of the band.
I mean, it's as simple as that. I think the problem, the breakdown is, is that this system 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 36 C, then I need to go up to a thirty eight C and that's just not the case yet. In music you want to type band in brassieres, you don't.
Well supposedly part of that profiting trend that started in the U.K. is that suggests that the type band is the key to a good fitting bra, 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, 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 34 C if you go down in band size, you would go up and cup size and your cup size would stay the same.
So 34 C is the same as the 32 D and then the other way A 34 C is the same as A 36 B and once you understand the system sizing thing then you can actually use this to measurement standard to find a bra that actually fits better.
That's right. And if you're wondering how this all works, it works with with bra fitting models. There are women that get paid money to go in and get fit for thousands and thousands of bras and they give feedback and this all start well, didn't completely start there. But in the 1970s, there was a singer named Dorothy Galligan from New York answered an ad for a bra funding model. And they said, you know what, I know this sounds sexist.
And we probably, even though it's the 70s, shouldn't be saying this in an office. But you have the perfect 30 for BS and that's the standard size which we're designing our bras on. So for almost 20 years, Dorothy Galligan was the model in New York in the lingerie district that would work 10, 11, 12 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 cut volumes in smaller sizes and cut volumes like they're based around one woman's pair of breasts. And her breasts became the standard for the bra industry in the 20th century. So that if you have if you could create a bra that fit Dorothy Galligan correctly as the thirty 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 your bra doesn't fit some or something's wrong with your body, not you must acquit.
Exactly. Well, here's the thing, too. It's not just breast size. It's the you know, how how big your back is and how like the bra it holds, the breasts the cups do. But, you know, it has to do with your shoulders and your back in 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 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 released a new bra, 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 hamstrung. You can't have four hundred and fifty bra sizes and manufacture on that scale.
Yeah, you can't mass manufacture. But I think that's what's being proven. Like you're saying, buy this new bespoke revolution. And yeah, 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, download our app and take these measurements using. Exactly. And upload it and then we'll just custom make some bras for you. And I also read that Poland makes really, really good fitting bras as well.
I wrote it. Oh yeah. It was the New York Times article about interest, and the author traveled to Poland to verify this herself. And she said she didn't find the perfect bra, 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 Hedwig in the Angry Inch.
I don't remember that part now. I never saw it. That's why it's great. John Cameron Mitchell, who also friend of movie Crash, he's a friend of Noles. He played Hedwig and, you know, created the character and directed the film. But there's a scene where he's he's screaming, do not put a bra and a dryer. It warps it.
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 bra 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 last longer. You can't put it in the dryer. Oh, right.
Yeah. Like when a bra, like, collects everything else in its wake. Exactly. Yeah.
So I don't think we can not talk about Victoria's Secret. And if I had a dime for every time you said that to me or as many dumb dumb guys call it Victoria's Secrets. Yeah.
You dummies. So Victoria's Secret actually started out husband and wife founded it in the 70s in the San Francisco area because the husband had gone to like the department store to buy lingerie for his wife and was treated like a skel for it.
Right. Even in San Francisco in the 70s. I guess so. All right. Department stores have always been a certain way, no matter where you are.
I think so. He said, well, we need to create like a laundry store that's made for men to go buy for women. And that's what they created was Victoria's Secret and it was semi successful. And then they sold to a guy named Leslie Waxman, I believe it was Waxman who had founded the Limited. And 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 the guy who founded it with his wife ended up getting divorced. And he he died, broke and jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge, sadly enough.
But Victoria's Secret and dominated the the bra industry in the United States for many, many decades until very recently, when it was overthrown by women who said enough.
Yeah, 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 Leslie. I think it's Waxman. 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 toward men and they were completely isolating women because he said, like these Victoria's 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 was I've walked by them in the mall. He's very slowly. This was like in the in the early 70s and or late 70s and early 80s. Yeah, that's what I'm talking about. OK, all right. So he said, man, I would have loved to see this. He said they were they were Victorian, not like a Victorian four year. They were like a Victorian brothel basically. And it was like just chasing women away, attracting men.
But women buy, you know, underwear for themselves way more than their husbands do. And so he kind of revamped that 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, despite Victoria's Secret and its history, women have really been key to the development of bras in the United States. I think over twelve hundred US patents have been awarded for bras between 1863 and 1969, and half of those have been held by women. And in the industry, they have always held pretty important positions and been well regarded designers and managers, specialists, merchandising, promotional product managers. It is one industry where it seems that has not been.
Here's a product for women run entirely by men, right?
And rightfully so, I would say. Yeah, absolutely. So there is also a very famous legend as far as bras go, which is the burning of bras at a 1968 demonstration. Yeah, well, apparently, no, it's a myth. There was a there was, in fact, a demonstration outside a Miss America pageant in Atlantic City in 1968. It was the brainchild of Carole Hanish, who helped basically at this moment give birth to second wave feminism.
And they actually had a trash can that said freedom, trash can and women threw stuff into it that they can. They're 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.
Big fat lie. And then lastly, Chuck, I've got one extra thing. You ready? Ready? Do you have anything else? I don't. Do you need to wear a bra? It's a long standing question and apparently the answer is no, at least as far as a study in France, a 15 year study of 300 women, I think there are aged 18 to 35. And this study found that women who did not wear bras developed more muscle muscle tissue in their breasts, ostensibly to provide support that the bra wasn't there to provide, and that by proxy, if you did wear a bra, your muscle or the muscles in your breasts were less prone to develop and thus you would have more likely to have breasts that sag or pendulous breasts then you would have if you didn't wear a bra, kind of like you're making your breasts sink or swim by not wearing a bra.
So it's just one study. But it is pretty, pretty surprising that they found basically the opposite of conventional wisdom, because most people say if you don't wear a bra, your breasts will get saggy. And that's apparently not true. Interesting.
And I also ran across a weird question on Google, you know, has suggested searches. What happens if we squeeze breast? Uh, I don't know. I didn't even bother to look, just the question itself was good enough. Oh, man. Anything else? I got nothing else.
What about the bro or the man's ear? Oh, yeah. Can't forget the bro. Uh, well, since we said, bro, it's time for listener mail, everybody.
Uh, I'm going to call this a moron buddies. Hey, guys, I 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 change from a between jobs snowboarding sabbatical in December to well, I guess I live here for now. So your partner's not a bad place to be, I would imagine. Good for you, Adam. Uh, I'm sure you guys get it. Got a ton of similar emails to this, but in the Bidets episode, you mentioned the type of toilet with a sink spray attachment nearby. In 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 buma gun enthusiast countries. But like one ring or spy disabilities, it has great power and must be wielded carefully. So bum a gun wisely, my friend.
That is from Adam.
Thanks a lot, Adam, and best of luck to you and 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 or send us an email to stuff podcast at HowStuffWorks dot com.
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