Fashion is cyclical. As a result, nothing is new, it is just repeated in a different form. In order for women to move forward with lingerie, we have to be honest about the past. Besides, fashion history can be a great source of inspiration. Below are a few examples of lingerie from decades past, contrasted with the better choices we as women have today. Thank you, feminism and body positivity!
All historical images were taken from The Underpinnings Museum (Collections tab): https://underpinningsmuseum.com/museum-collections/
The Picture on the right is of an 1860s waist corset. In earlier eras, the ideal shape for women was a tiny, curvaceous waist, which was created with the help of boned uncomfortable corseting. Of course, women do not have a waist this small, and not every woman has curves. Still, regardless of size, many women endured pain and limited breathing to achieve an hourglass shape. Today, corsets adjust to all female bodies, and are now worn sometimes as outerwear by women everywhere.
To the left is a padded bust improver from the 1880s-1900s. These were worn under clothing to help women achieve the curvaceous silhouette of the time. For women with small chests, padding like this was used to gain more shapeliness. Today women with small and large chests can find comfortable push-ups bras in all sizes.
Women wore nighttime bonnets back during the 1910’s too! Today women of all ethnicities wear a bonnet to sleep or preserve a hairstyle.
This slip on the left comes from the late 1920’s. However, is also contains elastic and steel boning, for the wearer’s discomfort! Today slips are soft, smooth garments for relaxing at home.
Let’s fast forward to the 1940’s. Although there was victory on the home front, there wasn’t any victory in women’s movement. The image on the left is of a fan laced girdle. Thankfully, today’s girdles are a lot less restricting.
On the left is a beautiful dressing gown from the 1950’s. Today, robes are just as comfortable, but they come in a variety of lengths, colors and styles.
The bralette on the left is from the 1970s. Today’s bralettes are more supportive, and are worn on all breast sizes.
The silhouette of the lace longline bra hasn’t changed since the 1980’s bra on the left. However, there is comfort along with style.
You can clearly see the influence of the 1990s-2000s sling bra on the right. Today cutout designs are popular for both bras and panties.
The previous decade consisted of harness designs, which are still popular. You can see the resemblance between the 2010s harness design on the left, and more modern design on the right.
Now we are in a completely new decade! What will lingerie history say about our choices? Whatever they are, they will always be influenced by the styles of the past.