5. Supporting the girls (a strophium)

I’m working on a new set of garb from the skin out and it is necessary to deal with the ‘unmentionables’ that create the underpinnings for the rest of the clothing.

I am fairly well endowed (D+), so going for a full day without any kind of support is not so hot.  At the same time, the idea of bra straps is also not acceptable.  As I was looking through books and other resources, my friend MsMcknittington kindly shared some information and links she had on the subject.  While a GFD (Gothic Fitted Dress) could be one option, it doesn’t help me when I slip back into Viking era.

The strophium is the Roman term for breast binding, using a strip of cloth wrapped around the upper torso. Breast binding has been known under different names and using slightly different techniques through time.  I have now made two different strophium, have used them extensively and find them very comfortable.  The way I tie the strophium, I aim for compression of my breasts rather than lift, and it works well.

Details: Both of my strophium are 260 cm long.  The first mock-up is sewn together of two lengths of raw silk cloth 27 cm wide.  The second is one continuous length of unbleached linen 30 cm wide.  Both are cut on the grain (no bias) and hemmed by hand with a simple rolled edge.

While it is possible to do breast binding using a flat method as shown by Marie-Chantal Cadieux (scroll down a bit), the other option is to criss-cross the strap behind your back, as explained by Baroness Rufinia.  Dona Violante also looks at breast support from a Moorish perspective.  Follow the links in the articles- there is more information out there.


  • I use Baroness Rufinia’s system for tying- it is easy to manage alone and not especially visible if the width/length is adjusted for the individual wearer to eliminate too much excess cloth (bulk).
  • Don’t tie the strophium too tight!  Also, tie with only a half knot, then tuck the ends in on the side. The knot is less bulky and shows less.
  • Make sure that the top edge of the strophium is snugged tight before tyeing.  This seems to help quite a bit to prevent the strophium from shifting around or accidentally slipping dow
  • The light weight linen seems to be working better than the raw silk cloth.  There is less give in the fabric itself, so I don’t need to readjust the tie during the day.  Less give also results in better support.
  • A simple hem around the edges is enough to prevent fraying, but remember to keep the stitches loose enough to prevent ‘popping’ a thread when pulling the strophium tight.

(originally posted to LiveJournal: September 7, 2012)