28
$\begingroup$

It is known that armor with accentuated design for breast is a bad choice in an actual confrontation. What can be changed to make "breast armor" more effective? Like materials(fictional or not), design(without changing the "breast room" completely).

My character lives in a medieval world, and is a female knight, she is looking for marriage and is trying to look more attractive for potential candidates without losing too much protection.

EDIT:Thanks for all the answers, they helped a lot, first let me clarify some things, the objective of the question is not to create a sexist character to appeal for male fantasia, I am trying to avoid it, changing the character to meet the beauty criteria of the time is not a good idea, she is looking for in the world éléments to make herself more appealing, putting breast on armor might not be effective form of male attraction for the time(and probably will not) and will have in world consequences, physically and morally, with which some of the answers here have also helped a lot.

$\endgroup$
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ I can't see why allowing for breasts is a bad choice. Is it any worse than having flat-chested armour? $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Dec 14 '18 at 13:57
  • 41
    $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK Having the armor's shape deformed to leave space form them has very undesirable properties, such as focusing blows on the sternum rather than trying to deflect blows. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Dec 14 '18 at 14:16
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I know about the problems,I am looking for more ideas to solve or at least alleviate them to be more viable, $\endgroup$ – Caio Nogueira Dec 14 '18 at 14:19
  • 30
    $\begingroup$ Is your question "What is the best way to protect a lady knight who is curvy?" or "Can the widely depicted cleavage armor be practical?" $\endgroup$ – Alexander Dec 14 '18 at 17:47
  • 17
    $\begingroup$ Most real-world female breasts are smaller than the typical "man boobs" on very tall, very large, overweight males. Really it's a non-issue. There might be a slight bump there across the front. $\endgroup$ – Fattie Dec 15 '18 at 16:46

24 Answers 24

81
$\begingroup$

Most known accounts of women in medieval era war have them wearing armour designed for men. One exception is Joan of Arc who had a suit of plate armour specially built for her. No known images exist from her lifetime, but one depiction (drawn from written accounts) shows the armour as very similar to armour worn by men, albeit slightly smaller and gathered at the waist. The gathering at the waist was very common for men's armour, but probably more exaggerated for Joan's. Image of a White Harness via Jeanne d'Arc La Pucelle

In regards to armour that is specifically designed for women's chests, this is a more recent consideration. Some modern body armours are specifically designed for women and while they do not have great drops for cleavage or molded breasts, they do show an actual rise over the chest.

Female body armour used by some Police forces

The armour in the picture above was designed to addresses some complaints of female UK Police Officers, as it apparently holds things in place without applying to much pressure.

So while a female knight probably wouldn't have exposed cleavage or molded breasts, it is likely that the bustier of them would have armour that showed a distinct rise over the chest area.

$\endgroup$
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Thanks the references will help a lot in my design. $\endgroup$ – Caio Nogueira Dec 14 '18 at 15:46
  • 11
    $\begingroup$ An interesting and useful answer, but please don't use the term "plait mail" because such a thing didn't exist. Mail or maille was what most people commonly and mistakenly name as "chainmail", what you are referring to is purely just "plate armuor" or "full plate". $\endgroup$ – vsz Dec 14 '18 at 20:20
  • 10
    $\begingroup$ The part about plate disregards the shape erasing significance of padded undergarments under rigid armour (gambeson et al.). The modern body armour reference is interesting, but because these are textile (Kevlar is a fibre) and thus not in necessity of underpadding, the observation is not applicable to rigid armour. If you do not concur, have a look at heavy modern duty body armour integrating ceramic plates: it is all but shape erasing, making its wearer look a walking bunker, whatever their gender. $\endgroup$ – kopischke Dec 15 '18 at 11:07
  • $\begingroup$ Here is an interesting article on St. Joan of Arc's armor: Joan of Arc's Armor: Iron-Clad Hoax or The Real Thing? $\endgroup$ – Ken Graham Dec 15 '18 at 12:18
  • $\begingroup$ @CaioNogueira You could have engravings of a corset-like shape with smooth metal for what would be skin. Fancy engravings on plate did exist. $\endgroup$ – JollyJoker Dec 17 '18 at 9:26
113
$\begingroup$

My character lives on a medieval world, and is a female knight, she is looking for marriage and is trying to look more attractive for potential candidates without losing too much protection.

I think you need to look at this differently.

Marriage, especially among the knighted classes, in medieval times was not primarily about looks (and not even in the West now is it entirely about looks). Social position and property, inheritance prospects and religion or politics had as much, if not more, to do with it. That's not to say that looks were completely irrelevant, but they did take a back seat to many other considerations.

Nor did knights, male or female, wander about all day and night in armor. Only an idiot would want to given it adds a lot of weight and has no social purpose that more comfortable and decorative clothing will not do better. Your female knight will wear whatever suitable clothing and personal decoration are appropriate to a woman of social standing high enough to be a knight. Her social grace, wit, charm and elegance are something she can display in appropriate social settings (just as the men could).

So there is no reason at all for your female knight to worry about her looks in armor. What she'll worry about is staying alive, with all limbs, still able to bear children and on the winning side. Any armor design that does that is what she wants - mobility and protection and vision are the primary requirements : looks are way down the list.

The ability to bear children is absolutely the key role of most women of noble birth in medieval times and frankly for that reason alone it's extremely unlikely her family would allow her to fight at all, certainly prior to her being married and giving birth. This role is of such importance that it brought about the death of more than one queen when they could not fulfill that role satisfactorily, and I do not mean death in childbirth. Without heirs a line may be finished and that would be unthinkable in medieval times.

$\endgroup$
  • 23
    $\begingroup$ As a nitpick "there is no reason at all for your female knight to worry about her looks in armor" is probably not quite right. Appearance is relevant for parades, ceremony, and some competitions like jousting that were essentially sporting events, though there the knight of any gender likely wants to look professional, serious, and project competence. Being attractive will come during the other occasions you mention. (I agree with the core of the answer and upvoted). $\endgroup$ – TimothyAWiseman Dec 14 '18 at 21:56
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @TimothyAWiseman And really, you could have "working" armor that is highly practical, then "show" armor that is designed for looks, with no particular connection to practicality. $\endgroup$ – fyrepenguin Dec 15 '18 at 9:34
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Those are what ceremonial weapons and armours are used for. You don't wear them to battlefields (too flashy, too impractical), but in parades in peaceful territories. $\endgroup$ – Lie Ryan Dec 15 '18 at 9:39
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @fyrepenguin & lieryan You are correct, but: 1. That would be too expensive even for most knights 2. That plan does not help with jousts and related combat-sports, which occupied a lot of time for knights during some time periods. They needed to look good for the crowds, while still being protected in those situations. $\endgroup$ – TimothyAWiseman Dec 15 '18 at 16:23
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ @TimothyAWiseman Regarding jousts, just armor was pretty impressive for the day (remember that armor is a huge expense) and the horse (also somewhat armored) and rider could wear colorful cloth to look more impressive. You don't mess with the armor design because your life could depend on it (even at a joust) and it's darn expensive. $\endgroup$ – StephenG Dec 15 '18 at 16:34
62
$\begingroup$

Armor is for protection, not sex appeal.

A live woman is a far better marriage prospect than a dead woman. The whole sexy armor troupe is about serving the male gaze, not doing anything for the woman who is fighting.

Armor is for actual fighting, not walking around.

It's heavy and doesn't breathe and you can't move very well in it. A realistic knight has a squire who's in charge of packing all that stuff and having it ready for battle. Certainly a knight in wartime would walk or ride with some level of protective clothing, but it wouldn't be full armor.

Most women don't have itsy bitsy bodies with enormous boobs.

The stereotype of women with tiny bodies and boobs that made them tip over is, again, created by men for men and is pretty rare in real life.

Real life actors or models that look like that are 1) chosen for those characteristics and are a small minority of women and 2) usually surgically enhanced. Larger breasts are more likely to show up on women who are more voluptuous and/or muscular overall. Like a shotputter. Even then, there is a mix of body types.

Drawings, anime, and 3D representations (like Barbie) that show tiny women with breasts the size of their heads range from almost to completely unrealistic. Most men and women I know roll their eyes at stuff like that. Real life women with natural breasts that huge suffer from horrible back pain and usually have reduction surgery.

Armor is generally custom fitted.

There is not one size and shape of armor for men, so there wouldn't be for women either. Men are different heights, have different torso to leg proportions, different chest sizes, etc. If you don't think most women would be tall enough for armor, consider that teenage boys (who were not done growing) often went to war.

If you can account for these differences, then it's not hard to also account for differences with female shaped bodies too. Even a very large-breasted woman probably doesn't have a larger chest circumference than many male warriors. A smaller waist to hip proportion should also be easy to deal with.

The stereotypical boob armor is not just stupid, it's dangerous.

It should be obvious to everyone that leaving gaping holes in armor to show off skin is counterproductive.

But even when the woman is covered, shaping it for breasts causes no end of problems.

Attractiveness is in the eye of the beholder.

Fighting well then looking good when she takes off her armor will catch many an eye. Fighting badly (which includes wearing useless or dangerous armor) is a turnoff in all cases. If a potential husband thinks a women shouldn't be a knight, then fighting badly will just reinforce his opinion and make him less inclined to be interested in her. If female knights are normal in that society, or at least if the potential husband is okay with it, then fighting well is an important part of the attraction.

Knowing how to choose and use your gear is essential to being a good fighter.

Besides, even male knights would have a few gems on the armor, head piece, shield, or sword. They might have coats of arms impressed on the shield. Armor might even be painted. So if you want creative clothing, here's your chance.

$\endgroup$
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ Armor is not just about protection, why do you think samurai used to wear stupid demon masks that offered no real protection in war? Why did roman soldiers wear six pack plates? Why did greek helmets have stupid crests that actually just endangered the user ? $\endgroup$ – Hollow Dec 14 '18 at 17:23
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ @Hollow the roman six pack plates is largely a myth, a few were created sure but the vast majority of roman armor was flat $\endgroup$ – BKlassen Dec 14 '18 at 17:43
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @BKlassen how is it a myth? if real people, actual humans used it? just because it wasn't frequent doesn't mean it wasn't real. 9 11 happened only once but it isn't a myth.. $\endgroup$ – Hollow Dec 14 '18 at 17:50
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ Keep it nice, please. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Dec 14 '18 at 17:58
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ @Hollow Decoration has been a part of armour design nearly universally, but there is a point where decorative armour stop being practical. To quote from the second link provided above: “the roman musculata are primarily decorative, worn by important folk that didn’t much expect to actually be fighting in them”. $\endgroup$ – kopischke Dec 15 '18 at 11:15
24
$\begingroup$

Real breastplates have a lot of space between it and body to soften blows and prevent situations, where dented plate causes problems. Most females will have no problems to wear a standard medieval armor fitted to her, slight extra space won't make a big difference. enter image description here

You can just make armor in a style and engraved to show your gender. Good move is to show off your slim waist, so less cheat-days and do not forget space for padding under armor.

If you want to accentuate your assets or they are impressive. You can make extra bulge around the chest. You would want to make it as small as possible, to preserve acceptable center of gravity and general weight and do not look like a joke. Don't over do your back and shoulder pain.

If you want to make separate "mounds" you would need to make it so there still is a good gap between it and your body. Ridge would be a potential weak spot and you would want to make it extra reinforced, same for base of "mounds". I would advise you from using it in battles on horseback, as that is perfect target for a lance or spear.

Can't afford spare pieces of harness - go with a fitted good old one, as your life is more important.


For note, in everyday life you would use minimal amount of armor and for sure it would be rare to go around in full battle armor.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ this give me a few ideias of design that might work, like fake bulges over the plate, to create the effect of accentuated breast while keeping the real package protected. $\endgroup$ – Caio Nogueira Dec 14 '18 at 15:40
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ @CaioNogueira Unless the fashion in your setting is for women to accentuate the breasts then why would a female knight do so? Women in armour can be spotted at times due to how they stand, walk and basic body proportions. It sounds like you're looking for an excuse to continue this fantasy trope rather than a real reply. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Dec 16 '18 at 2:47
  • $\begingroup$ I know it might look like a fantasy trope, but I am not looking for a overly sexy version of armor, on the contrary, it is way for my character express herself sayng "Hey I have boobs, they are not my weaknes, and I can still kick your ass without hiding them", like many womand of today love using high heels, not for showing their butt for mans, but because they feel beaultiful and/or powerful themselves. Think of her like a link between wonder woman and Joan of Arc. I am getting inspiration of women I know that I haven't seen being represented in any midia. $\endgroup$ – Caio Nogueira Dec 17 '18 at 11:51
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @CaioNogueira With all due respect, it still sounds rather like a sexual fantasy instead of a worldbuilding question. Molded breasts on armor are a bad idea even with padding, because they direct all the force onto a thin ridge in the middle, which happens to be right over your sternum. Consider why armor works in the first place: it takes the force from a very small area (the edge of a blade) and spreads it out over a wide area (your whole chest). A valley right over your sternum does the opposite, focusing the force of any hit right onto a single (very important and fragile!) bone. $\endgroup$ – Draconis Dec 17 '18 at 21:22
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah I know about this problem, what I asked is if there is a way to solve it keeping the breast design, I got few anwsers here about shading and painting that could solve the problem kepping the protection, they made me think that the breast format are actually not that important, keep in mind that "armor" is not final and all round, she will definitely will have another armor for combat that is more specialized for that. $\endgroup$ – Caio Nogueira Dec 18 '18 at 11:15
19
$\begingroup$

Taking this in a different tack.

During the time you're referring, the most sexually desirable women had big hips, and a lot of fat on them. Being fat meant you're wealthy enough to eat well and you're healthy. Women’s idealized bodies have changed dramatically over time – but are standards becoming more unattainable?

Your lady knight is probably more fit than what is desirable for the time, so a man style breast plate is fine, she needs a way to show off her hips instead.

Also, as a knight, she will be battered, bruised, have terrible skin, and frankly look about as unappealing as possible, both back then and now. Few men were interested in women that did the work of men. They wanted fair looking women with child bearing hips to produce lots of heirs.

So when you really drill down in this, almost none of your original concept works. You would have to first change your world to have female warriors as desirable (vikings maybe?).

Simply having sexy armor would just cause potential suitors that are interested in female knights to think she is wrong in the head.

-Edit I want to clarify, what was considered beauty was different by place and time. Most nobility values large women but not all. There was a time when women had to tie themselves up in corsets and try to look like boys. This knight lady will need to look beautiful for the time and place she is in. That's why I am suggesting the original concept doesn't work, it needs world building around it to explain why a female knight would be considered attractive.

To answer your other question, how to make this armor viable:

This is actually simple, modular armor. The breast molds have clasps that allow the wearer to attach another plate the joins and fills the valley, creating a man style plate again. She would only put this on before a fight. It would actually provide better protection than traditional armor because you have an entire extra layer of metal. Probably enough to even stop early guns. Assuming of course there is still the usual layer of leather underneath it. If it has been made fantasy skin tight, then it won't help much at all.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Hollow Historically the "Beautiful" traits of the day matched whatever the royals or people in charge looked like. The sun king caused virtually very noble family to be hugely overweight as they tried to look like him, and eat as much as him. In many third world countries even now, overweight is considered sexy because it means you are healthy. Just look at some models in the 60s, they all look sickly to us now because our idea of beauty has changed since then. I just finished watching White Christmas and the dancer lady is a stick with a giant head, yuck! $\endgroup$ – Trevor D Dec 14 '18 at 18:00
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ the most sexually desirable women had big hips and a lot of fat on them That sounds like a myth to me. I think you are confusing costume with fact. Then as now what any individual finds sexually attractive varied widely. $\endgroup$ – StephenG Dec 14 '18 at 18:03
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @StephenG Not a myth, historical fact. theconversation.com/… And while beauty is in the eye of the beholder, there is little reason someone trying to find a mate would purposely make themselves look unattractive to the majority. It's like a women dressing goth and expecting to have her pick of men. You limit your potential pool doing that. $\endgroup$ – Trevor D Dec 14 '18 at 18:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @001003000420004200R5 You didn't really live long enough to suffer affects from obesity anyways. But again, right from the cave men era, men are hard wired to want big child bearing hips. That's how it works. Throw your western notions of beauty out the window. $\endgroup$ – Trevor D Dec 14 '18 at 18:09
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @TrevorD I mean, we are talking about people who invented the corset just to make fat women look slim so they are actually sexually desirable. $\endgroup$ – 001003000420004200R5 Dec 14 '18 at 18:10
16
$\begingroup$

First, a reframe, then to your problem, then a simple answer, which others have put forth as well.

Boobs are not all that important in the time period you seem to be depicting... Breasts were not seen as sexually as they are now during Medieval times. Even in the Elizabethan era, take a look at the actual outfits. The breasts are pushed FLAT in most of the portraiture, for a real flat or uni-boob effect, most of the time. Historically, it's not until a little later that boobs get the emphasis...more towards the 1600s and 1700s. But in an era that's all about armor, not so much. The Renaissance does get boob-a-licious--just, seriously look at Medieval to EARLY Renaissance art. And I am talking art created AT THE TIME, not Reniassance or later art that looks back and reframes historical figures in terms of their day's attractiveness. It's not about the boobs. There's a whole different attractiveness standard. Cinched in waist, Exaggerated hips. Boobs are for babies.

Here's what is most important: clear pale skin, flowing hair. Most of the art that people bring up as Medieval is really Renaissance, and the beauty standard completely changed. (The body standard got a lot more voluptuous).

But you want boobs because you live in this society and so do your readers, and so neither they nor you can possibly imagine that boobs might not be central to female attractiveness, while still staying true to physics. The answer is not to change the shape of what's worked in armor so that your protagonist can look cute. The answer is in SHADING. This has been used on stage to create boobs where none exist for centuries. And painted armor has been a thing since armor was invented practically.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ shading is good idea, I thing it can be done with engraving, It also works because my character does not have large breasts, so the effect goes great. Thanks about the information of the time period, it will help creating her struggles with the ideal beauty of the period of time. $\endgroup$ – Caio Nogueira Dec 17 '18 at 12:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @CaioNogueira The when exactly is important. For most of the Classical/ Roman/ Greek era, small breasts were more attractive, and large ones were seen as animalistic. So curvy wasn't seen as the best thing even in the late Middle Ages as that sort of carried through in many places. $\endgroup$ – Erin Thursby Dec 17 '18 at 16:52
  • $\begingroup$ I will definitely avoid large breast on armor, it would become very cumbersome and hard to make the design harmonious , smaller ones will fit better with the defensive getup and the popular view of the time period. $\endgroup$ – Caio Nogueira Dec 17 '18 at 17:20
8
$\begingroup$

Not form fitting

As any number of people have noted, form fitting armor is stupid and dangerous. Armor is deliberately made with padding between the armor and the wearer. So don't make the armor form fitting.

  • This answer suggests putting the breast shapes outside the real armor. So normal armor with two breast-shaped pieces added.

    I would suggest also making it so that the breast shapes are a softer material. That way, they wouldn't deflect the sword into the sternum but instead pad the blow. So they would give a small amount of additional protection while being slightly clumsy.

  • This answer suggests using paint to give the illusion of shadows to imply different curvature. Note that this might actually make the breast armor better, as it could fool people into striking the armor the wrong way.

Paint it

Instead of painting the armor to give the optical illusion of a different shape, paint the armor to show how the person looks underneath. Paint a face on the helm and cleavage in a dress on the breastplate. Or skip the clothing and paint bare breasts. A lifelike enough painting and gawking attackers might find that they were dead before they realized the lady with breast armor was holding a sword.

It's up to you to figure out whether your character would paint a depiction of her own bare breasts on her armor. Perhaps she is more demure than that. But even so, a depiction of her torso in a dress that happens to highlight her breasts would work.

$\endgroup$
6
$\begingroup$

Pyramids.

The curved shape of fantasy breast armor would be tricky to make and would not deflect as well as an angled flat surface. A pointed polygon will typically alter the course of incoming energy, deflecting it down to the base of the pyramid where reinforcements will dissipate the force. Sharp points would also allow a close quarters death hug attack.

Regarding attractiveness, that is in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps the pyramids' patterns are attractive.

$\endgroup$
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ nice idea, going "playstation 1 laracroft style", this concept sounds good to me. $\endgroup$ – Caio Nogueira Dec 14 '18 at 14:16
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ From what I remember, two domes/pyramids/whatever also serves to focus force onto the centerpoint, right over the sternum. This would be bad for the wearer. $\endgroup$ – Andon Dec 14 '18 at 16:48
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Andon beat me to it, I was about to comment that if going with a pyramid approach it had best be only one pyramid or the center would focus the blow instead of deflect and disperse $\endgroup$ – BKlassen Dec 14 '18 at 17:35
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The added breast decoration on the armour would make the armour heavier as it would need to stand out from the surface which for practical reasons needs to be above the existing chest to begin with. Probably the other thing forgotten is that bras didn't exist back then. Breasts were either loose under clothing or bound, neither produced the valley effect under clothing that a bra does and where the silly boob armour comes from. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Dec 16 '18 at 2:50
6
$\begingroup$

Multiple outfits.

In just about any society where people wear clothes, people have different outfits for different occasions. The clothes I'd wear on a date aren't the same ones I'd wear to a funeral, a job interview, or to weed the garden. Modern-day soldiers have dress uniforms for looking nice on parade, but that's not what they wear into combat. etc. etc.

Metal armour that provides practical protection is heavy and uncomfortable. It requires padding, which soaks up sweat and gets stinky. It's not something you want to wear 24/7 or even nine-to-five. Your female knight might have:

  • One suit of armour designed for serious combat.
  • Another suit designed for parades and perhaps for friendly tourneys, which can be as impractical as fashion dictates.
  • An assortment of nice clothes for social occasions where armour is not required.
  • Clothes for outdoor, riding, wet weather, etc.

Most of her spouse-hunting will be done in the latter. It's not like she's going to be match-making in the heat of battle.

Paint.

Take one regular suit of non-breast-shaped plate, with the chest designed for protection. Now paint it in any colour you like (other than black) and use shading to create the illusion of curvature.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ And a 4th type of clothing: clothes for riding horses and/or marching that are not nice (though they can be tailored) and are also not armor or made for battle (even fake ones). $\endgroup$ – Cyn Dec 15 '18 at 4:19
6
$\begingroup$

Check out this armor - the keel-like protrusion over the belly is not the most extreme I have ever seen but it's a good example of allowing space while thinking about deflecting attacks. It is a strong shape against blunt blows and will deflect edged weapons rather than catching them and sliding the point directly into the centre of the chest as more form-fitting armor might.

enter image description here

Now perhaps the wearer of this armor was carrying their extra weight a little lower than on the upper chest but your female warrior could certainly wear a breast plate where the point of the keel is higher allowing for space where it's needed. Unless your warrior is very silly, protection will come before appearance. Your warrior's admirers will just have to admire the finely constructed armor and use their imagination.

$\endgroup$
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The most crucial thing here is that the "keel" shape will send the blade off to the side, not trap it against your sternum like typical boob armor would. "Unless your warrior is very silly, protection will come before appearance." ← very much so. $\endgroup$ – Draconis Dec 17 '18 at 21:27
5
$\begingroup$

Push up armor!

She tightly ties her bossom just like she always did and wears the same armor she always did. She just instructs a blacksmith to reinforce and shape the front in a way to resemble attractive, full breasts.

Considering the general lack of fatty foods for all but the wealthiest and the kind of physical work and training she does, her breasts would probably be rather small anyway. You see the same phenomenon in modern athletes.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ this inspired me, it can be applied in others pieces of armor too, like a fake ponytail over a helmet, to protect the real hair $\endgroup$ – Caio Nogueira Dec 14 '18 at 15:44
  • $\begingroup$ Exactly, breast are mostly fat by both volume and weight. $\endgroup$ – Hollow Dec 14 '18 at 17:01
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Breastplates shaped like large breasts are actually dangerous. See my links in my answer. $\endgroup$ – Cyn Dec 14 '18 at 17:28
5
$\begingroup$

To make it available we first need to understand why it is not viable in the first place, the reason is simple, it leaves the sternum unprotected while exposing the breasts. Here's a stupid drawing I just made to show a woman wearing boob armor from above. enter image description here But there is a way to remove all those flaws, something that actually existed in medieval times called Gambeson

An arming doublet (also called aketon) worn under armour, particularly plate armour of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Europe, contains arming points for attaching plates. Fifteenth century examples may include goussets sewn into the elbows and armpits to protect the wearer in locations not covered by plate. German gothic armour arming doublets were generally shorter than Italian white armour doublets, which could extend to the upper thigh. In late fifteenth century Italy this also became a civilian fashion. Men who were not knights wore arming doublets, probably because the garment suggested status and chivalry

Gambeson alone was good armor but most of time was also paired with mail and plate armor to absorb impact. By wearing a THICK layer of gambeson under the boob plate all the design flaws are removed and now your knight has full protection.

$\endgroup$
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ A gambeson won't solve the problem of cleavage presenting a blade trap. Medieval armor wasn't merely made thick to prevent penetration, it was angled to encourage blows to slide off. It's hard to make armor strong enough to stop a lance point with the momentum of a knight and his warhorse behind it, and even if it is, getting knocked off your horse can kill you. $\endgroup$ – Mark Dec 14 '18 at 20:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Mark We are talking about a knight here, knights were rich people and a full plate armor had the a cost of around 3 million or more modern dollars, if they used dollars. For that reason knights were not killed but disarmed, kidnapped and sold back to their families in exchange of money or territory, Only an idiot would horse charge a knight with a lance and intent to kill, but even if they did the blow wouldn't penetrate enough to actually kill, but injuries were to be expected. Also no armor was ever meant to give GODLIKE protection to all things. $\endgroup$ – Hollow Dec 14 '18 at 21:14
  • $\begingroup$ Things such a catapult might kill the knight but everything else has a great chance to leave her protected and safe or just injured. $\endgroup$ – Hollow Dec 14 '18 at 21:17
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @Hollow Yes, ransoming knights was often a thing, but it's vastly overstating to say that "knights were not killed". For instance, in the Battle of Grunwald, 270 brothers of the Teutonic Knights fought, and about 75% were killed including most of the leadership. Ulrich von Jungingen, Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, was reportedly killed by a lance. Even friendly tourneys could have fatal consequences - see e.g. Henry II of France. And many weapons (bows, firearms, ...) don't have a "capture" mode. $\endgroup$ – Geoffrey Brent Dec 14 '18 at 23:26
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Also... no, a gambeson of the type worn under armour was not good armour on its own. We're talking about padded cloth maybe a couple of cm thick, not Kevlar. It will slightly reduce the danger of these flaws, but not eliminate them. The kind of gambesons that were worn as armour on their own were thicker, and wearing them under armour would be impractical. $\endgroup$ – Geoffrey Brent Dec 15 '18 at 4:56
5
$\begingroup$

All the answers are trying to get rid of her boobs :(

I say a proud, independent she-knight can look as buxom as she wants to.

1. Taboo

In this world it could be an act of greatest shame—to cut a woman in the chest. Perhaps raising children is hard in this age, with many fatalities, and tradition has grown to treat women's child bearing properties with utmost respect, to the point that even when you're trying to kill a woman, you still avoid the chest and pelvis at all cost.

If this is the case, then having round non-flat surfaces on the armor's chest is not a problem. This cultural taboo could also explain why the armor has such an accentuated bosom.

2. Intentional bad design

The problem with breasts shaped into the armor is that weapons would catch on the chest, instead of deflecting off. So, using this to her advantage, the knight has extra thick armor on her chest, with slightly softer metal too. Swords would bite into the metal and catch halfway, giving our knight the opening she needs to gut her opponent. Maybe she makes the armor-boobs bigger than her own chest, so theres a bit more crash room.

Note that this strategy works better against thin swords. If someone is swinging a heavy weapon, you'd much rather deflect than catch.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thank you, I like your approach of the world view of being taboo attacking a female bosom, I think I will add this touch to my world's morale too. $\endgroup$ – Caio Nogueira Dec 17 '18 at 14:28
4
$\begingroup$

The main problem arising from having breasts, especially large ones, is that their mass tends to move the center of mass and thus altering the equilibrium. Not being a bearer myself I cannot speak about the discomfort of having such a free swinging mass.

This is particularly visible in female athletes, who never ever worry about showcasing their curves while competing. Only the opposite, the breasts are better held firmly in place.

A sound design for a female warrior would then require a linen belt around the breast to hold them as flat and firm as possible, and then a formed thoracic region to allow for lodging the extra volume. But no protruding things. They would be easy targets in close quarters combat, with likely lethal consequences.

Moreover, announcing a fighter as a woman with clearly visible breasts can easily suggest weak points or ad hoc tactics to the enemy, and one of the principles of war is to hide as much as possible to the enemy.

Consider instead a parade armor, where showcasing and exhibition is the main purpose, that is not a matter of optimization but about mode and trends.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Humans females have the quality of larger hips and more muscle fibers than usual on their legs to adjust balance for the weight of the breast. $\endgroup$ – Hollow Dec 14 '18 at 16:59
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Women on average have a lower center of gravity than men on average. Breasts don't weigh as much as you think and women's hips are usually larger than their torsos. $\endgroup$ – Cyn Dec 14 '18 at 17:21
4
$\begingroup$

Subtlety and paint.

Breast form armor can be perfectly practical you just can't go overboard with it. As long as you don't have a divot in hte center or an undercut under the breasts that can catch its no worse than other armor with high relief dimensions. just look a real piece of maximilian armor below for comparison. imagine flipping the top half top to bottom. High relief is fine as long as there is enough room for padding. It should not be form fitting, but you have quite a bit of leeway with the shape.

enter image description here

Now compare the breastplate below, the rest of the armor has so weird things but the shape of the breastplate itself is fine.

enter image description here

Or consider this breastplate has a great shape ...if you filled the giant hole in it. it is reminiscent of conquistador style armor, again ignoring the rest of the armor.

Also remember the wealthy would often painted their armor, meaning you can create all kinds of patterns with no practical effect. You can further accentuate even minor changes in the shape of the armor with color. The addition of the right embellishments can further hint or accentuate without costing practricallity. If she is wealthy she can afford to have some rather spectacular inlay done to give the impression of all kinds of things.

Consider the attire at the time, dress was not form fitting, it was meant to HINT at the what was underneath not put it on display. In fact in many real medieval settings large breasts would be a minor concern compared to a narrow waist and wide hips.

Paint on a corset, or use an inlay to create shape that is not there and you can make minor changes in the armor look like major ones. If your armor is really clever they can even use optical illusions to create shape that is not there in enhance minor changes. The below japanese t-shirt is a great example, using simple lines and shading to create false shape. It can be as subtle or as ostentatious as you want.

enter image description here

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ That's not practical armor, as many answers have pointed out. It's just not so ridiculously exaggerated as certainy fictional portrayals. $\endgroup$ – Obie 2.0 Dec 17 '18 at 7:51
  • $\begingroup$ First I specifically said "the spade of the breastplate" not the armor as a whole.The breast plate is completely practical, there is no divot in the center to concentrate force, other wise it is no different than the average tight waisted maximillian style armor or even the conquistador style. I am finding a different picture because you are not the first to just look at the picture. $\endgroup$ – John Dec 17 '18 at 14:46
  • $\begingroup$ There is a divot in the center, by virtue of any outcropping. The conquistador armor doesn't have a center dip, just some detailing. In fact, it protrudes a bit in the center. $\endgroup$ – Obie 2.0 Dec 17 '18 at 18:29
  • $\begingroup$ No divot sorry, nipple to nipple is a straight line. picture a conquistador breastplate turned sideways, that is basically what you were looking at. $\endgroup$ – John Dec 17 '18 at 20:19
3
$\begingroup$

Add padding to the outside

Rather than reject the premise of the question, let's assume the character herself does think that adding boobs to her armor will make her more attractive, and this matters a lot to her. Given that, she should probably wear normal armor with a cloth shirt over the outside. Then add extra light padding under the shirt to give the appearance of breasts. This would add a bit of extra weight and make her a little bit less versatile, but both effects would be minor.

I don't think there's a way to make armor-boobs "better" than traditional armor (since otherwise male knights would have worn them in real life), but you can get the effect while sacrificing a minimal amount of utility.

$\endgroup$
3
$\begingroup$

Your character can wear body contoured armor if she wants to.

She'd probably bind her breasts with a linen or woolen cloth to stay comfortable and keep everything in place. Or, she could wear a supportive bodice of supple comfortable leather.

Over that, she'd probably wear a quilted gambeson of linen or wool, slightly tailored at the waist, if she wants it that way.

Gambeson

Over that, she'd wear her armor. It would help if you mentioned what kind of armor. I'm guessing you mean a suit of plate.

She'd wear her breastplate, of course.

enter image description here

Consider the breastplate. It has that rounded shape to deflect blows, but if your character considers her appearance more important that optimum protection, she could always wear something like...

This

enter image description here

or something similar to this, a modern female fencing chest protector.

enter image description here

Consider how buxom she is. If she's buxom and she's wearing flexible armor, her breasts can move. If she's very buxom and she's wearing a rigid breastplate, that rigid metal shape won't move and it could impede the range of motion of her arms. I don't think a warrior would tolerate that, since it could mean her life.

To counter potential trapping, her breastplate or cuirass could have a ridged surface with an reinforcing piece at the center. She'll most likely have a shield as well.

If King Henry VIII could have armor bodysculpted for his prodigious royal belly, it's not unthinkable for a woman warrior to have armor bodysculpted for her figure. Just keep it reasonable and practical, and consider her comfort, range of motion, and the layers of clothing and padding she'll be wearing under the armor.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ good answer, I want to make it more practical as possible, complying with the intentions of my character, the references will help a lot. $\endgroup$ – Caio Nogueira Dec 17 '18 at 12:14
  • $\begingroup$ I'm glad I could help. If your character is mainly a bodyguard, she probably won't be wearing plated armor unless she expects serious trouble. She'd probably be wearing a mail shirt under normal clothing appropriate to her social station, but that is for you to decide. $\endgroup$ – TheLeopard Dec 19 '18 at 5:36
2
$\begingroup$

Inflated and spiked chest plates for female warriors who want to show their attributes.

enter image description here

$\endgroup$
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ That armor's going to get you killed in short order. Blade traps all over the place, vision-blocking pauldrons, poor hip protection... $\endgroup$ – Mark Dec 14 '18 at 20:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Mark The question asked for the chest piece, ignore the rest. $\endgroup$ – Hollow Dec 14 '18 at 21:09
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The chest piece alone has plenty of blade traps that will work to guide blows in and maximize their force. "Spiky" is generally something you want to avoid on practical armor. $\endgroup$ – Mark Dec 14 '18 at 21:11
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I count at least four places on the chest where a blade would catch... $\endgroup$ – Erin Thursby Dec 15 '18 at 2:03
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Hollow if the question wasn't at all about realism, then why was it posted at all? If OP really wants a boob armour without that being justified, then a question for justifying the armour is redundant. $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Dec 17 '18 at 21:24
2
$\begingroup$

Most of the answer focus on how that would be wrong historically, practically, socially, etc., etc., and they're absolutely correct, but, if we go in that direction, the first thing we should admit is that there was no that thing as "female knights", case closed. As I understand, your question is more like "if female knights still somehow exist, how do we make them look distinctly female for a casual modern observer, while not leaving the realm of practicality?"

Maybe you should look into mirror armor and plated mail? Basically, a chain mail vest with some additional reinforcing metal plates. I mean, not specifically for girls, but for all knights, because the metallurgy isn't ready for plate armor yet, so that's the best they have. Unlike a cuirass, which was usually made with a lot of space between the armor and the body, chain mail follows the body contours out of necessity. Some of those look kinda close to what you may want, e. g., a chain mail with two separate round-ish chest plates, although flat - make them more bowl-shaped, and there you go: both the practical purpose of accommodating the body shape and the aesthetic purpose of making the character look distinctly feminine from our "modern" point of view are there. What's not there, however, is the iconic look of a knight in full plate - knights were not always wearing full plate armor, but, again, that's how they "should be" from our "modern" point of view. And you probably wouldn't want to be jousting in one of those, too.

There's also this, which is a real male armor from 18th century India, but I doubt it had other purposes except decorative and ceremonial:

enter image description here

$\endgroup$
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Well, first, female knights weren't societally accepted, but that doesn't mean they were non-existent, with Jeanne d'Arc being the most famous example, but not the only one. You can set your work in historical medieval Europe and still plausibly have a woman who fights, wears armor, observes chivalry, or whatever. She'll be seen as very odd, socially, but is certainly possible.. Second, just because you've made a minor social or societal change, doesn't mean you throw all pretense of realism out the window, and no soldier interested in staying alive would use breast armor on the battlefield. $\endgroup$ – Obie 2.0 Dec 17 '18 at 7:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Obie 2.0 Jeanne d'Arc wasn't a knight, neither formally nor practically (I don't remember her story in enough details, but did she actually fight? Like in "charged at the enemies, chopping them with her sword"?) For what I remember, she was given a set of custom made armor which protected her from several stray crossbow bolts and a stone thrown at her head... $\endgroup$ – Headcrab Dec 19 '18 at 1:58
  • $\begingroup$ She claimed she didn't kill anyone. However, given that she wore armor, carried a sword, rode a horse into battle, etc., it seems fair to call her a knight. Keep in mind, many noble knights were not in the habit of actually doing much direct combat if they could help it, so this wasn't as unusual as it may seem. $\endgroup$ – Obie 2.0 Dec 19 '18 at 4:20
  • $\begingroup$ On the other hand, Joanna of Flanders most certainly saw direct combat, with a glaive rather than a sword. María Pita killed at least one person. Elisabeth of Montfort apparently rode a horse alongside her male knights, in knightly armor, which sounds to me exactly like what a noble male knight of her station would do. Further, if a woman could, effectively, fill the role of a knight, if rarely, it's not out of the question that a suitably inclined ruler could knight her. $\endgroup$ – Obie 2.0 Dec 19 '18 at 4:37
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Obie2.0 not to mention the 12th-century Order of the Hatchet, instituted to honour women who fought for Tortosa, and apparently specifically referred to as "cavalleros" (i.e. "knights") - although in that case the fighting preceded the knighting. $\endgroup$ – Geoffrey Brent Dec 25 '18 at 22:03
2
$\begingroup$

I didn't see it in any other comment when I skimmed through, so I just wanted to throw out that it might not make much sense to have an exceedingly large chested knight to begin with.

It's most likely that a female knight would have an "athletic" form.

Being an adventurer that is also a fighter would build a lot of muscle and induce a lot of sweating and it's not really conductive to have exceedingly large fat deposits. Additionally, large amounts of fat would probably detract from battle performance in a general sense, making one slower and more sluggish and more likely to die an early death.

It makes more sense for battle hardened women to look a lot like the shape of battle hardened men, in which case the chestpiece is probably going to look a fair bit like the male chestpiece just maybe a small slight bit larger.

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

What if you you made a breastplate design like this? I'm not seeing any major obvious weaknesses. I could maybe see someone wedging a dagger under the chestplate, but chances are that if you're close enough to her to do that, you're probably already dead. (art belongs to chaosringen) enter image description here

$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

Less about the aesthetics of the armour, and more just how to make it viable as something a woman might wear.

First off, if you’re flat-chested, you needn’t worry about changing the shape of the breastplate. However, if you have larger breasts (which might therefore necessitate changing the shape of the armour), you’re going to have a really nasty time of it as a knight. In order to do any high-impact sports (running, horse-riding, etc.), support is kind of obligatory to avoid shoulder, neck, and back pain - and just mitigate against things moving in the opposite direction from the rest of you.

Breast binding could work (wrap a wide length of linen cloth around your torso, tucking your breasts under your armpits to get yourself as flat as possible), but the method I just mentioned also prevents the expansion of the ribcage, which kind of helps for breathing. People do it, but running around on a field bashing people with swords tends to raise one’s breathing rate a bit, and having a very compressed chest makes life difficult.

The modern option is to use stretch fabric strapping (similar to that used for sports injuries) - you tape down each breast, again tucking under the armpit, but leave a gap at the sternum and the spine where the strapping doesn’t overlap so you still have some room to breathe. Unfortunately, I can’t really think of a medieval alternative to this.

Basically, I’d suggest trying to get your medieval woman to bind as much as she can bear while still having some space to breathe, then stick on some extra boob-shapes lumps to the outside of the armour. Who knows, maybe she could use the space as pockets?

$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

I question the assumption that breast shaped armor would be necessarily be a death trap. Certainly, if a smith beats a sheet of metal into the shape of an idealized woman's body and some girl wears it without much underneath and goes LARPing, she may be more vulnerable than if she wore a T-shirt. However:

  • A medieval knight would wear a lot of padding under that armor. This would spread the impact of a blow over her whole torso, so the inevitable hard blows to her sternum would not be felt there.
  • Due to the padding, even if the wearer is quite busty, her boobs may not occupy the 'boob space' in her armor, so the armor can be made round on the inside for structural integrity.
  • A master smith would reinforce the sternum area, and could make it virtually impenetrable without adding much weight.
  • A collar could be placed around the neck area to stop or deflect a spear point from sliding up her armor into her neck.

I would model breast armor on Greek/Roman muscle armor. It was mostly restricted to officers, and it also has the same issue of trapping, rather than deflecting, spear thrusts. Yet it was used. I would argue that the lack of a female equivalent is mostly due to the rarity of female officers at times when muscle armor was fashionable.

$\endgroup$
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ You're vastly overestimating the efficacy of padding at spreading impact. A gambeson worn under armour would be about 1cm-2cm thick, so it's not going to spread the impact by much more than that. (And having dated a lady who did medieval recreation fighting, I can vouch for the fact that it doesn't.) The steel used would rarely be more than about 3mm thick, so the shape on the inside is not going to be much different to the outside - otherwise it will weigh far too much. $\endgroup$ – Geoffrey Brent Dec 15 '18 at 4:48
  • $\begingroup$ @GeoffreyBrent There wouldn't be padding directly over her sternum. There would padding over her ribcage, and a gap over her sternum. The armor would then transfer the force of impact to her ribcage. $\endgroup$ – James Hollis Dec 15 '18 at 12:21
  • $\begingroup$ @GeoffreyBrent As for the shape of the inside, obviously you cannot have solid steel boobs. But you can have two sheets, or have a metal ribcage on the inside reinforcing the sternum area. Effectively it would be the same as normal armor with cosmetic boobs, but without visible seams. $\endgroup$ – James Hollis Dec 15 '18 at 12:28
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This is turning into a very complex design, which is generally a bad thing on the battlefield. Complex = harder to make, harder to maintain, and more things to go wrong. Stiffness vs. bending varies with the cube of thickness, so two half-thickness sheets will be much more vulnerable to bending-type damage than a single-piece breastplate, and when it does get dented you won't be able to just turn it over and hammer it flat like you would with a normal breastplate. This is not a practical design. $\endgroup$ – Geoffrey Brent Dec 16 '18 at 6:52
-2
$\begingroup$

Magic? Example: DnD has a type of armor called "glamored" which retains all it's armor properties while looking like whatever it's wearer chooses and this appearance can be changed at will. With this she's actually running about wearing plate mail (standard variety) but looks like she's wearing a fancy evening gown, freaky demon mail, whatever. That said, assuming this exists in your world has some interesting implications. Depending on level of paranoia, current events, etc... almost every noble would be sporting a set of this. If it's a casual day with no reason to worry it would probably be a light breastplate, if it's during a period of danger or they're just a paranoid git, they would probably be sporting full plate all the time. So, that may make trouble elsewhere in your story.

$\endgroup$
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ OP is not asking about magic. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Dec 16 '18 at 17:40
  • $\begingroup$ Matthew, please consider perusing the tour and the help center to be more familiar with the expected answers here. $\endgroup$ – bilbo_pingouin Dec 16 '18 at 22:14
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding.SE! We're glad you could join us! When you have a moment, please click here to learn more about our culture and take our tour. You've provided a reasonable answer, but it's outside the constraints the OP included in his question (e.g., no magic tag). We appreciate the effort and look forward to your continued participation! You'll get the hang of it. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – JBH Dec 16 '18 at 23:20
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch -- I don't see in OP's query where magic is specifically disallowed. As far as I can see, magic is a perfectly viable answer. I would say that glamour armour falls neatly under "fictional material" as allowed by the OP. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Dec 16 '18 at 23:45
  • $\begingroup$ @elemtilas, I see no magic tag $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Dec 17 '18 at 6:34

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.