Valentine’s Day Special: The Evolution of Lingerie

February 13, 2015

Over the decades lingerie has certainly had it’s ups and downs. From bloomers to thongs, and taping the breasts down to create a flat chest to “Super Push Up” bras we really have made it a long way. Lingerie was once used to control the shape of the women’s body. Throughout the decades we have laced corsets too tight for air and burned bras for liberation and freedom from feminine ideals. The lingerie women wore directly mirrored what was going on in society. Undergarments matter.


1700’s: Women were wearing corsets and farthingales (wire hooped skirts). The ideal body shape was flat chested with a tiny waist, the farthingale widened the bottom half to highlight the waist.

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1800-1830: The waist became more of a natural feature and the bust was then highlighted. Corsets began to stop right below the bust line and they lost the shaping of the skirts. Narrow Petticoats were then worn.


1830-1900: The corsets were laced tight and the length of them dropped back down past the waist to create an idealized hourglass shape. There was heavy flaring at the hips to further exaggerate the small waist.

1900’s: Corsets began to change into an “S” shape which pushed the bust forward and the derriere back. The skirts were still wider at the hips continuing to highlight the waist.

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1910’s: The figure was idealized as a slimmer, narrow look. Corsets dropped to reach the thighs and long rubber girdles began to replace corsets.1a50d301f79437a8f7569c0669f4225b 8b8d1952001270e7328c988c57da0a67

1920’s: The sought after boyish figure was then originated. Corsets and girdles continued to narrow the hips and bandeau bras began to be worn which offered little support for the bust. This allowed for flatter chests and slimmer figures. Women were interested in a more androgynous look and would actually tape their breasts down to hide the chest.

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1930’s and 1940’s:  Women went back to their natural curves and feminine shape. Girdles were shorter and the bra’s were not very supportive. They began wearing slips underneath their clothing to provide a smooth silhouette.

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1950’s: The ideal figure was a curvy, hourglass. Bra’s began to shape into more of a pointed, conical look. Corsets and girdles were still worn and petticoats were added underneath a skirt for extra volume.

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1960’s and 1970’s: These two decades began to make lingerie less restrictive and more comfortable. Corsets were no longer the norm. The natural curves and feminine shapes were back, pantyhose began to be worn instead of stockings, and the baby doll silhouette was very in.  During these decades women were burning their bras in protest of equal rights. Women were fed up of being limited to being only a mother or house-wife.

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1980’s: The 80’s was quite the decade. Women became more empowered during these years and lingerie no longer controlled the shape of the body. Thongs, G-strings and bodysuits were all very trendy during the 80’s

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1990’s: Cleavage was a much sought after thing in the 1990’s. Lingerie became much simpler and more comfortable. Most women were just wearing a bra and underwear or thong.

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2000-Present: Flat stomach and large bust are desired features during this era yet we are learning to accept the beauty of our bodies in all shapes and sizes. Some bra’s have adapted into “Super Push Up” and have gel inserts to accentuate cleavage and a large chest. Shape wear like Spanx have developed in order to smooth the body underneath clothing.

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