Just like fashion and hair styles, breasts too have seen a change throughout the years. From the curvaceous models like Marilyn Monroe to the petite frames of Twiggy and Audrey Hepburn, women´s body shapes have changed throughout the decades.

The average breast size of British women has had a big increase over the years, from a 75B/34B in the 1960s to 80E/36DD today. This could be down to the change in diets and fitness but also the huge popularity of plastic surgery, which shot up in popularity in the 1980s[1].

A recent study in the UK[2] discovered women today would be at their happiest with a size C chest. But how has the “ideal breast size” changed over time?

The voluptuous 1950s

The iconic beauty ideal from the 1950s was American super-star Marilyn Monroe. By this decade, the previous trend of flat-chested breast ideals was long gone and Marilyn Monroe in her iconic outfits was setting the standard for women all around the world. Monroe brought sexiness to curves, which resulted in women´s desire for fuller breasts and bullet shaped bras.

The petite 1960s

The beauty ideals were shifting between everything from slim model Twiggy to hourglass shaped Sophia Loren. This was the time of freedom and liberation, the start of feminism. This was also reflected in women´s body shapes, with big differences in beauty ideals. On one hand, models like Twiggy were the petite and slender icons. On the other, icons such as Sophia Loren rocked the hourglass curves.

The slender 1970s

The 1970s continued with a trend for slimmed down figures, though woman became a little bustier due to the general improved health. The thinking-thin ideal mixed with average sized bodies resulted in a more natural breast size. Some of the beauty icons setting the standards in the 1970s were Olivia Newton-John, Cher and Barbara Streisand.

The plump 1980s

The decade where the world became more familiar with plastic surgery and breast enlargement, women´s body shapes changed again. American celebrities like Pamela Anderson and Carmen Electra increased the popularity of larger implants in the US – everyone wanted their own Baywatch style breasts.

The bigger is better 1990s.

Many women sought the bigger and fuller option when getting a breast enlargement in the 90s. Some UK women even preferred to put the breast implant in front of the muscle, which for women of a slender body type, the breast implants could then be seen through the skin. Cosmetic surgery became more popular and common in the 90s, and people saw the breasts of women like British glamour model Katie Price as the ideal.

The perky 2000s

Big breast implants were still popular and breast augmentation still was the number one plastic surgery in the US3, the number of breast implant operations in the US increased 39 per cent in the last decade3.

In the early 2000s, another type of breast implant size increased in popularity during the 2000s. Victoria Beckham perfectly presented the new shift in the cosmetic surgery trend, with highly placed, round looking breasts. Obvious implants, perched high on the chest created this perky look, defying gravity.

The limitless 2010s

Today, we actually see an increase in breast reduction and many women are opting for a more natural look[3]. Bum lifts and implants are discussed widely in the news and across celebrity culture, the trend in bust size remains more modest. In fact, UK department store Marks and Spencer’s saw a surge in the sales of bralettes, which create a subtler and more natural look[4], rather than the push up bras that we saw so much of in the 1990s.

If you are interested in the fuller breasts of the 50s or the subtle look of 2010, contact us for a no-obligation appointment with Dr. Pietro Di Mauro.



1 Study by Bluebella, 2017

2  Study by Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors, 2018

3 American Society of Plastic Surgeons

4 Marks & Spencer’s sales figures, 2018