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Boom and Bust: A Brief History of Lingerie


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The history of the undergarments which we would call lingerie is thought to stretch all the way back to ancient Egypt where women of a certain class would wear tight slip-like garments under their clothes. Following on from the Egyptians were the Greeks, while one of the first examples of women wearing lingerie was found in Crete from around 2000BC - it was a corseted bodice which sat under the breast with a caged skirt.

 lace pantyhoseThe lingerie mantel was in turn taken up by the Romans, and there are Roman murals of women in briefs and what looks like a band of material which supported the bust or certainly flattened it.The First CorsetsFrom 1100 and 1500 lingerie developed, not in the form of support but for very practical reasons. Medieval women wore long tunics or slips for warmth and to protect their lavish clothes from mainly dirty bodies. It's thought that the first prototypes of corsets were introduced during this era but were not widely used.It wasn't until the mid 1500s, however, that corsets started to become the staple in the Elizabethan wardrobe. The corsets were hand-sewn (as sewing machines were not invented yet) and they used different pastes to ensure they stayed stiff.

 fishnet thigh,These corsets were often attached to a farthingale which was a huge caged skirt that added the necessary volume to their dresses which was fashionable at the time.After all this development in women's lingerie, it was the post-revolutionary French who turned their backs on corset-style underwear for a freer and more liberating fashion. The dresses were heavy, loose and if corsets were worn they would be an extended version which went over the hips and thighs to ensure a slicker silhouette.The Victorian Era: Structural LingerieThe Victorians really put lingerie in every woman's wardrobe. With the invention of sewing machines and steel clasps, more demand than ever was placed upon women's bodies - in order to achieve accentuated curves dresses incorporated everything from sleeves to bustles to gain that elusive tiny waists or hour-glass figure. The corset really became a necessity to cinch the waist and with them being machine-made with clasps at the front it meant they would last a lot longer and be adaptable. This, after all, was the era where there were corsets for everything from sport, safari and maternity!The Twentieth Century and the First BraThe early twentieth century brought the women's liberation movement.

sexy garter,Women were doing more exercise and during the wars they worked in the factories - as such, the corset was too restrictive and just simply wasn't practical. In 1914, Mary Phelps-Jacobs designed a new support that was solely for the bust. It consisted of two handkerchiefs, ribbon and a seam separating the breasts at the front - and the first bra was born. The fashion for dancing and the 1920s 'Frapper Girl' influence meant girdles which gave a flat, boyish look were the decade's underwear of choice.Mary Phelps-Jacobs, however, was just before her time and the design didn't prove to be popular; she sold the patent to an American company called Warner's.

sexy santa costumeIt wasn't until 1935 that Warner's really developed the initial bra and introduced cup sizes: A, B and C. This new idea of sizing is when the bra really started to take off in America; in Britain, meanwhile, bra sizing began in the 1950.Boom and BustThe real boom years for lingerie were the 1950s and early 1960s. Hollywood celebrities were endorsing bras especially in the cone shape of the 1950s which heavily accentuated the bust. But with every boom there's a bust, and the women's liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s put a stop to the glamorisation of lingerie. The famous bra-burning and the feeling that bras were constrictive and conformist took place with the result being that women took to wearing knickers and little else!And Back AgainLuckily, during the late 1970s cleavage was making a comeback.

lingerie, Materials were developed in the 1980 and 1990s which allowed more sensual, comfortable lingerie to be produced. The 1990s saw the development of padded bras, from sponge to gel to achieve uplifting cleavage. We also saw the development of sizes from the original three sizes (A, B and C) to AA-KK.Underwear started out as something for modesty, cleanliness, support and binding the body. It is still used for support in some cases but now it's also used to exude sexual power and fashion. From luxury lingerie to everyday comfort lingerie our liberation through our undergarments is ours to own.

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