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November 21, 2010

“Explanation of the Structure of ‘Breast Clothes'” (胸衣构造说明)
By: Wan Xianggezhu (绾香阁主)
October 19, 1927
Beiyang Huabao

According to Antonia Finnane’s awesome Changing Clothes in China, this article is the introduction of the brassiere to China. The drawing with the short article shows an inside out brassiere, referred to as 胸衣 xiongyi or “chest clothes.” Wan describes the structure of the garment: there are two “nests” (窝 wo) to conceal the breasts and the breasts reside within these nests so that they can be bound but not constricted/pressed down. There are two straps on the garment that hang on the shoulders and there is a strap between the clothes (the nests?) that can be changed to loosen the garment. There are buttons on the back that can be buttoned tightly but Wan makes a point to say that that this garment isn’t intended to restrict or harm the breasts (胸部 xiongbu) but instead to benefit the breasts (双乳 shuangru).

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