The History of Lingerie Exposed

By: Molten

The long history of lingerie begins in the ancient world, half a globe away. Though trends have certainly evolved throughout time, lingerie continues to be a market unto itself, and its uses have spanned not only continents and centuries, but also genders.

The history of lingerie begins in ancient Greece and Egypt, when women wore an early prototype of the corset for support of the breasts; the garment reached just under the breast bone. From there, it moved through time to Europe, when the nobility, both men and women, wore underclothing, much like the modern day slip or chemise, to keep the outer wear from becoming soiled.

As regular bathing became more commonplace, full bodied lingerie was no longer necessitated, though underwear did persist. Also, the corset became a means of achieving a cinched waist, a silhouette that proved incredibly uncomfortable but highly desired. The corset utilized bones to ensure no movement, and it had the effect of making the breasts and hip area protrude, which is known as the hourglass figure. Topping this contraption would be layers of petticoats, chemises, and stockings.

Over the years, the history of lingerie evolved with the times. By the 1920s, the era of the flapper and the very popular boy-shape, the hourglass figure was shunned, and the corset was temporarily abandoned. At this point, an early bra had been invented, too, so the full-torso chemises were being ignored as well.

Of course, the first half of the twentieth century was embroiled in two world wars, which made anything considered a non-necessity in pretty scarce supply. As a result, there were just the basics: brassiere, underpants, and that is about it. Even stockings were hard to come by. Then, in the 50s, the glamorous movie stars of the time exemplified that hourglass figure, and the corset made a roaring comeback. Now, though, it was in a more tolerable form of a girdle, and it was accompanied by seamless brassieres.

The history of lingerie has a blip on the radar of time, which is the 60s and 70s. Freedom, equality-these were at the forefront of society's mind. Corsets, brassieres, stockings-implements of restraint and symbolic of suppression, these were abandoned, literally. Women burned their bras, but by the 80s, they needed them back. In fact, the final two decades of the 20th century saw a resurgence in femininity, and the corset came back. Now used for more romantic purposes, lingerie became a symbol of sensuality.

In the long history of lingerie, there have certainly been drastic changes. Today, lingerie includes chemises, robes, underwear, brassieres, and stockings, from the modestly feminine look to the overtly risqu choices. Gone are the days of whale-boned corsets that squeezed the breath out of women; now, there are also girdles, support hose, tummy-control, thigh-control, and derriere-lifters; there are push-up bras to lift and sports bras to stifle; there are panties that show no lines and panties that are only meant to be shown; the list goes on and on. Certainly, never before in the history of lingerie have women had so many choices.

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