Shocking Lingerie History Secrets
You Didn't Know
Lingerie History - From
chemises, to bras, to stockings and camisoles, we all wear layers of
lingerie on a daily basis, but how much do you really know about
where it came from?
Beautiful lingerie has had many functions over the ages,
from a hygienic covering, to a modesty layer, to shape-changing and
enhancing, and last but not least, as a tool for seduction.
for a look back at a snapshot of lingerie history, how it’s changed over
the years, and the ways it’s scandalized and shocked people
Lingerie History: Earliest Days
Did You Know?...
The French word négligée literally translates as "neglected."
It's a tongue and cheek reference to the lace embroidery that women
sewed onto their nightgowns to re-ignite their husbands' interest.
has been a staple since ancient Grecian times when it was worn as a
covering under ceremonial robes and gowns. Lingerie undergarments were not
used as a way to enhance a woman’s body or draw attention to it.
- During the
medieval era the corset was used to change the shape of the body
by minimizing the waist, but not just anyone could show off a tiny
middle. Catherine De Medici was said to have imposed strict rules on
how the size of a woman’s waist corresponded to her position in
century women’s fashions softened to empire waist styles and
required a more relaxed style of corset. Petticoats were worn under
dresses and could be as elaborate as the gowns they were under,
often sewn and quilted by hand. At this time some women even dared
to ditch their corsets all together.
Victorian era saw corsets come back into fashion more than ever
before, and create the look that represent the silhouette of the
time. Tiny waists and gigantic hoop skirts were de rigueur.
- At one
point the steel cage-like hoop skirts grew so big that they became
hazardous to the wearer, posing a threat of getting caught in
machinery, carriages, or even catching fire.
style corsets are still celebrated by today’s high-end fashion
designers like Jean Paul Gaultier. Who could forget his daring
design for Madonna’s Blonde Ambition tour that quickly became a
part of pop culture and lingerie history?
were worn under women’s full skirted dresses and although they
weren’t visible to the outside observer, scandalous women dared to
wear stockings that were printed with patterns and lace designs as a
sneaky form of rebellion. It wasn’t until the 20th
century when hemlines began to rise that stockings became a visible
part of a woman’s ensemble.
Lingerie History Secret
During the Victorian era (think Jane Austen, Lord Byron, Emily Bronte), modesty was a
virtue. Corsets aimed to flatten the chest rather than promote it. The waist was reduced to a minimum; sometimes as tiny as 16 or 17 inches.
Lingerie History: Early Designers
century saw the rise of lingerie designers like dressmaker Lady Duff
Gordon, who began designing and selling beautiful night gowns,
robes, and negligees to elite women who favored her use of materials
like silk and lace.
- Scandal arose when she displayed photos of women
wearing her designs in fashion magazines. She began holding lingerie
fashion shows for private clientele. Today her pieces are on display
at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
in America, Mary Phelps-Jacob (or Caresse Crosby as she was known)
designed and patented the first bra in 1914. This early bra was
essentially two handkerchiefs, sewn together to support the bust.
She later sold her patent to Warners bras for $1500.
- Warner’s went on to
develop the model of different bra cup sizes, and the design continued
to improve with the use of stretch knits and fabrics like spandex for
added fit and comfort. In 1939 the word “bra” (short for brassiere) was officially added to the
Garter belts became a hit during
the Prohibition era. Women could easily store flasks and small bottles of
liquor in the inside of the garter. This secret pocket inspired
Hollywood movies of women with hidden pistols under their skirt.
From Vintage Lingerie To Today's Trends
30s, 40s, and 50s saw the influence of fashion like Vionette’s
bias cut gowns, Coco Chanel's Little Black Dress, and Christian
Dior’s New Look dictate the need for a variety of undergarments to
meet the demands of changing silhouettes and styles.
began to appear in print advertisements in the 1930s, but had a
practical and medical tone.
50s gave rise to girdles that enhanced an hourglass figure and an
ample bosom. The Sweater Girl style brought about the cone shaped
bras (known as bullet bras), made famous by movie stars like Lana Turner. Bettie Page and
the pinup girls revealed fishnet hose, garter belts, and sultry
poses. The influence of Hollywood glamour on lingerie designs was
70s gave us G-strings, and the 80s were all about power dressing,
cleavage, and sex appeal. TV shows like Dallas and Dynasty gave
inspiration for overtly sexy designs that appealed to both men and
brands like Agent Provocateur and Kiki de Montparnasse continue to
push the envelope with erotic and luxurious designs and advertising.
Modern lingerie embraces the styles and tastes of every woman, from
sporty to romantic, practical to raunchy. No matter what kind
of woman you are, there’s something today to suit every taste.
Beautiful Lingerie > Bra Fitting