Display of cleavage with a low neckline is often regarded as a form of feminine flirting or seduction , as much as for its aesthetic or erotic effect.
Most men derive erotic pleasure from seeing a woman's cleavage,  and some people derive pleasure in their female partner exposing cleavage. When cleavage is enhanced with a push-up bra or exposed by a low neckline it can draw attention.
Displaying cleavage or any part of female breast may be considered inappropriate or even prohibited by dress codes in some settings, such as workplaces, churches, and schools, while in some spaces showing as much cleavage as possible can be permissible or even encouraged. The exposure of nipples or areolae is almost always considered immodest and in some instances is viewed as lewd or indecent behavior.
Modesty There is historical evidence that some cultures strongly discouraged cleavage or any hint of a bosom. In Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan , women are required to cover their body and face completely,  Iranian law requires a chador over-cloak or a hijab head scarf. Evolutionary psychology The cleavage area between the breasts is perhaps the epicentre and stimulation of interest. Breast and buttock cleavages, sharing a similarity between their appearances, are considered to be very sexual.
Among humans the female genitalia is regressed and the upright posture reduces visibility of the buttocks, but the breasts are significantly enlarged. Theorists hypothesize that with these evolutionary changes, the measure of mating-readiness and attractiveness in females has shifted from swagging buttocks to the pendulous shape of breasts and cleavage.
Young Woman with Flowers in Her Hair. Oil on canvas, This continued through the Victorian period. Gowns that exposed a woman's neck and top of her chest were very common and uncontroversial in Europe from at least the 11th century until the Victorian period in the 19th century.
Anne of Brittany has also been painted wearing a dress with a square neckline. Anne of Austria was known for wearing, along with female members of her court, very tight bodice and corsets that forced breasts together to make deeper cleavages, very low necklines that exposed breasts visible almost in entirety above the areola and pendants lying on the cleavage to highlight it.
During the Victorian period, social attitudes required women to cover their bosom in public. For ordinary wear, high collars were the norm. During the French Enlightenment , there was a debate as to whether a woman's breasts were merely a sensual enticement or rather a natural gift to be offered from mother to child.
The controversy was so great that he reworked the painting to move the shoulder strap from her upper arm to her shoulder, and Sargent left Paris for London in In the German Empire , for example, all Roman Catholic bishops joined in issuing a pastoral letter attacking the new fashions.
For example, Gina Lollobrigida raised eyebrows with her famous low-cut dress in , and other celebrities, performers and models followed suit, and the public was not far behind. Low-cut styles of various depths are now common in many situations. During the s, Hollywood and the fashion industry successfully promoted large cloven bustlines and falsies.
In the late s, erogenous attention began to shift from the large bust to the trim lower torso, reasserting the need to diet, especially as new clothing fashions — brief, sheer, and close fitting — prohibited heavy reliance on foundation lingerie. Legs were relatively less emphasized as elements of beauty. It had 54 design elements that lift and support the bustline while creating a deep plunge and push-together effect.
The ideal of breasts and cleavage has also evolved in the later half of the 20th century, with shapes enhanced by use of a variety of methods and techniques. In the s the preferred shape was pointy, echoing the sci-fi look of the times; in the s it was elegantly sloped in alignment with Hippie chic of the times; and from the s a buffed, pumped and engorged look has become the preference.
Such dress designs have been most noticeable at various awards presentations, such as those seen at the Academy Awards. It was also noticeable in the film American Hustle , as well as in films which expose cleavage in a low-cut bra or swimsuit. Display of cleavage can still be controversial. In the United States, in two separate incidents in , Southwest Airlines crews asked travelers to modify their clothing, to wear sweaters or to leave the airplane because the crew did not consider the amount of cleavage displayed acceptable.
Facing a tough campaign, she posted provocative campaign posters, accompanied by the slogan "We Have More to Offer" to draw attention to "serious election issues.
Cleavage enhancement Various methods have been used by women in history to enhance their physical attractiveness and femininity including the accentuation and display of breasts within the context of fashions and norms of modesty of the time and place.