The secret evolution of lingerie

‘Lingerie,’ a French word, originated from the old French word, Linge, meaning ‘linen.’ As a word, Lingerie was first used to refer to bras and underwear in 1922. Informally, lingerie would mean visually appealing underwear that is fashionable and erotic.

In the past 200 years or so, undergarments have gone through a fashion revolution. From being mere clothing to protect parts of our bodies, they have turned into powerful fashion assets that could define and elevate our lifestyles.

The corset

In the early 1800s, fashion conscious women took to wearing the very popular column dresses, and that’s when the long line corset came into the picture. By the 1850s, the corsets got even more stiff, feverishly clinging to the chest and waist. For the fashion martyrs of those days, breathing was not always part of the deal. In the 1890s, the “wasp waist corset” further severed the gap between breathing and underwear fashion. Towards the 1990s, came the S-curve corset that was designed to make the waist appear slim and trim, while enhancing the look of a pushed-forward bust.

The hoop skirt

The elaborate crinolines and full skirts which were much the rage in those days, called for the invention of the hoop skirt. Referred by many fashion historians as a ‘cage’, this skirt holds together the full skirt, equally testing the grit and patience of fashion brave hearts.

The very first bra

In 1910, came a brilliant stroke of fashion genius, rescuing long suffering women from the shackles of tight fitting corsets. Socialite Mary Phelps Jacobs invented the very first bra by sewing two handkerchiefs together with a ribbon tie. In a period of four years, she was rightly granted a patent for her excellent invention.

Going loose

By the 1920s, the obsession with severely tight fitting undergarments had faded away, and what came about was a fashion trend that encouraged lose fitting and boyish looking silhouettes. Shape wasn’t as important, and that meant more breathing space for women.

The light and easy bloomers

This period also saw the growing popularity of light and easy bloomers that went perfectly with short dresses.

The aesthetic lingerie

Towards the 1930s, the lingerie designs tilted more towards aesthetics than plain comfortable designs. Undergarments were now beginning to be sold as exquisite, fine pieces of clothing, and were increasingly becoming a must-have fashion item for the style conscious.

Strapless wire bras

The 1930s ushered in the strapless wire bra that took its own sweet time to win the hearts of fashionable lingerie lovers.

The frills and laces

By the 1960s, frills and ruffles became a common sight, attached to most lingerie. These gave a distinct aesthetic appeal to bras and other delicately designed underwear.

Lingerie, as we see, have come a long way, and today we have whole new inventions, adding to this ever growing and cherished piece of fashion item. From rhinestone details on bra bands to push up bras to lingerie as clothes, there’s a never-ending rush of fun choices for the naughty and the adventurous. Great lingerie with a subtle hint of sexiness is what stands out in the current world of aesthetic fashion.


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