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The Strophium

Trigger-Alert: In this post I will talk about female breasts. Especially mine. You will have to look at them and I have no problem with it. I intend to be very frank and not avoid any topics. So be aware and please behave like an adult.

I showed you the supportive underdress of my colleague Viki recently and I told you that this dress is following a source from the 1350s.

Now there have been big breasted women before the invention of the supportive underdress. And from a certain size upwards and especially when gravity takes its toll, which it will inevitably do, latest when age, pregnancies and breastfeeding have throughgone a few cycles, a big breast can lead to unpleasant problems. Hanging, freely moving, and heavy breasts can cause pain in the back and the breast and skin irritation, in extreme cases even sores underneath the breasts. A binding can help immensely with this and can also do wonders in esthetical matters.

Written sources before the 14th century, which Isis Sturtewagen has collected here, speak of breast bandages to fix and support the bust. And you can find even more sources in this article from Beatrix Nutz.

These bandages already exist in antiquity and can be seen in several statues and pictures of the time. There they are called “Strophium”. So that will be my term for this kind of breast taping.

Now, I am in the lucky situation of being able to use supportive underdresses in my time and that although my early-30s-children-free boobs of a D-E cup are hanging a little lower than the ones of pornstars, as will most breasts of this size, but they do not hang uncomfortably low and do not cause me any pain or muscle tention in my body when I am not wearing a bra. So my goal is less a medical solution, but rather an esthetical solution. It will be more practical for work than going without any support as well. So I wanted to give it a try.

I started an experiment at 3 days of Bachrittertage this summer, only wearing the strophium as a support. I had a look at diverse experiments of other reenactresses before to get a hang of their technique suggestions.

I had tried breast taping before, but I always failed – due to the wrong size of the bandages as I found out. I need thin linnen fabric and a rather long, but narrow stripe of it.

My strophium has a length of 3 meters and a width of 35 cm (This will go around my chest exactly 4 times). I hemmed it on all sides, but I don’t think that this made any difference.

I start wrapping on my right side, lay the fabric horizontally across my chest and a second time in the lower  part of the chest, pushing the twins upwards. Then I wrap from underneath my right arm, over the right breast and above the left one, across the back, then above the right breast and over the left one. This crossing motion is the key to the very limited push-effect you can reach here. The end I tuck under the bandages in the back. Then I tuck the lowest edge under the breasts under which helps with more support and also sweating. Afterwards I rearrange the breasts in the bandage if needed.

Somehow my left breast looks somehow different than the other, that must be due to my standing crookedly. I

I tried several other wrapping methods as well, but my result is that pushing the breast upwards is really not what you can do with breast taping without shoulder straps, especially in this size range. The wrapping helps mainly with fixating and pressing them flat.

On these photos you can see my breasts in a modern minimiser bra, without cups but with an underwire.

   

And this is the result in the morning after freshly taping them. I wear a sleeveless underdress after the Ranis castle find as an inbetween layer. I wore the strophium for one day with the simple loose dress and for one day with the pretty tight dress and one day I wore nothing at all for comparison of wearing comfort.

 

The unpleasant look on my face comes from the early morning when the photos were taken. Even before my first coffee. And that is never a good time.

I actually find quite interesting how the silhouette changes in the tighter dress. I think I even like it better than with the bra.

So, judging the wearing comfort, the strophium was actually great. The first half day I felt strange and I had to adjust to the new sensation and after lunch I had to re-tape because the linnen bandages were still loosening a bit which is normal after washing them. But after that they worked really well and especially in the tighter dress I had full support.

I sat, walked and stood in the strophium, I made dinner and worked in it and I had no problems. I do think however, that with hard physical work, you would not get through a day without readjusting.

What is important in my opinion, is to wrap while standing upright, wrapping without wrinkles and arranging the band after every wrap so that it lies comfortably for you. Also use the full width of the band when crossing the back and only wrap as tightly as you can without feeling unpleasant pressure or pain. This can be seriously dangerous.

I am very convinced that the strophium can be a long term solution for me and I will keep on testing on further events to get more experience with it.

 

Further sources: 

My pinterest collection on the topic of supportive underwear