Home » The History of Lingerie

The History of Lingerie

Underwear has come a long way since the days of linen drawers. In the beginning stages, underwear was originally designed to serve several purposes – changing a woman’s shape, preserving her modesty and for hygiene reasons.

From bloomers to thongs, pointy brassieres to push-up bras, the history of lingerie reveals a lot about women’s changing role in society. It’s fascinating to see how lingerie has changed over the last hundred years, and how the transformation of undergarments has shaped us.

The Quilted Petticoat

The versatile quilted petticoat is more impressive when you remember that at the time of its birth, 1795, the sewing machine had not yet been invented and all stitching was done by hand. And while women have long dismissed it from everyday wear, the petticoat is frequently reinvented within modern fashion from Alexander McQueen’s theatrical versions to Jil Sander.

The Corset

With its rigorous fastenings and controversial viewpoints, the corset is a landmark within the history of lingerie. Long before Jean Paul Gaultier, Madonna and Vivienne Westwood made corsetry memorable in the mid ’90s, it was an integral component of everyday dress during the eighteenth century. Using whalebone and sometimes steel, the corset straightened the back, pulled in the waist and increased the bust. Although originally a garment of propriety, it has always held both an erotic and artistic allure: the art of lacing and unlacing the corset is noted throughout Renaissance painting.

For more history on corsets, visiting our History of Corsets article.

The Bustle

Created in 1860, the bustle was designed to emphasis the posterior, it contrasted exquisitely with a tightly pinned waist, and ranged from classic hoops to elaborate embellishment. The bustle later developed into a feature of fashion on its own after the overskirt of the late 1860s was draped up toward the back and some kind of support was needed for the new draped shape.

The Bra

Although archaeologists have discovered that the humble bra potentially dates as far back as the 15th century, it didn’t come into play until the 20th century. The soft design was originally patented in 1914 by Mary Phelps Jacobs and popularized by metal shortages during the war.

Stockings

From pin-up Bettie Page’s flirtatious photographs throughout the 1950s to Mrs Robinson’s stocking-covered leg on the poster for The Graduate in 1967. But, before hemlines rose, stockings were a discreet yet rebellious glint of self-expression during the 19th century, featuring decorative insets and embroidery.

The Slip

As delicately slinky as it sounds, the slip was originally designed by French couturiers to be worn under dresses. They became fashionable in the 1920s as manufacturers developed new, breathable fabrics.

The Girdle

The descendent of the corset, the girdle was considered an essential garment between 1920 and 1960, to create a rigid, controlled figure.

The Thong

A history of underwear would not be complete without referencing this little piece of material. Rudi Gernreich is credited for introducing the slight garment to the masses in 1974. The 1990’s saw a questionable trend arise for exposing the top of one’s thong above the waistband of jeans, a decision that haunts many of us.

More Fashion Fabula

The History of Mascara

Mascara is a staple to any female’s makeup collection. And it has been that way for centuries. But, did you know that between the 1900’s

8 Rules For Party Season

Dust off your finery— It’s party season once again. From turning up under dressed to getting too dressed up, we know it’s not always easy

Tom Ford’s Private Blend

Care for a hint of tobacco? How about a whiff of black suede? If a taste for exotic aromas suits your style, then Tom Ford’s

Behind the Brand: Oliver Peoples

5/26/2016 In this day and age, when all major fashion brands feel like they have to get into every possible accessory sector, it’s highly refreshing

Weekend Closet: Pretty Pastels!

Tommy Hilfiger Women’s Naree Two Piece Flats from Macy’s, $69- Trendy, yet chic. The Naree two-piece flats by Tommy Hilfiger fit in just about everywhere.

5 Summer Tops You Can Wear to Work

5/16/2016 Dress codes for work are already challenging enough and with rising temperatures it may seem almost impossible to dress appropriate. While in the colder

5 Style Habits for the Professional

While it’s true that in this day and age, office attire is more approachable and casual than ever, greater wisdom holds that dressing professionally still

How to Dress Vintage

Vintage hunting can be just as intimidating as it is rewarding. Aside from the self-curating aspect, the experience is not that much different from your

The History of Hunter Boots

With the weather finally, slowly starting to heat up and April showers nearly upon us – what better time to take you on a guided

How to Wear Earth Toned Workwear

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE EARTH DAY TO WORK WITH A NATURAL COLOR PALATE Discussions of color – and adding color into one’s wardrobe –

The History of Blush

Blush. Blusher. Rouge. Whatever you may call it, it still serves the same purpose; to provide a healthy flush of color to the cheeks. Blush

How to Fill in Your Brows

Instead of using makeup to turn us into someone we’re not, we’re always looking for new ways to amp up our natural features. Sometimes, it’s

6 Houseplants for a Healthier Home

There’s nothing like a well-curated display of indoor plants! It’s impressive on two levels–the artistic and the practical. It takes some skill to maintain plants,

Halogen Dress + Accessories

Counter clockwise from left to right: Ankle Strap Sandal, Envelope Clutch, Gucci Oversized Sunglasses, Halogen Dress

History in Fashion: Raw Denim

Raw Denim. Have you heard of it? Before you start thinking it’s just the latest trend in fashion, we invite you to consider it’s historical

History of American Women’s Fashion

In 2010, The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City ran an exhibition called, “American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity.” It explored

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

In an effort to help you find the perfect gift for your mom this Mother’s Day (May 10), we’re serving up a list of the

The History Behind PF Flyers

From their classic canvas look, to their elusive background, PF Flyers are American history and culture compressed into one shoe. We dug deep into their

Editors’ Picks: Summer Jumpsuit

Splendid Nautical Stripe Jumpsuit This lightweight jumpsuit epitomizes quintessential high-seas style. Steve Madden ‘Aintso’ Strappy Leather Toe Ring Sandal Classic and summery toe-ring style sandal

Latest Fashion Coupons

There are no coupons currently available

Fashion Brands

Login

Use a social network:

Or:

Feedback/Suggest Brands

Again, welcome to Your Brandzaffair. Our goal is to be your daily source for immediate access to all your favorite brandz with their best offers, in addition to providing insights and reviews in your lifestyle interests. We want to always continue to improve your experience. Please tell us what you think and what we can do better.

Spread the Word