You bet! My sister just bought me a vintage Playboy magazine. The date – 1972. The cover price – one dollar. Before you go thinking this is all too weird the cover reads “A Revealing History of Lingerie.” As most of you are aware, I sell beautiful lingerie online.
Moving right along…throughout much of human history, female undergarments could not in truth be named – for the very good reason that they simply didn’t exist. If she had to name them at all, she called them her unmentionables. Mother Eve and her sensational little micro-mini fig leaf aside, modesty has, in fact, played virtually no part in the origin of any sort of human clothing – under or outer, male or female.
From bloomers to thongs, pointy brassieres to push–up bras, the history of lingerie reveals a lot about women’s changing role in society – how we perceive ourselves and how we’re viewed by others. It’s fascinating to see how lingerie has changed over the last hundred years, but even more intriguing to note what’s stayed the same.
Late 18th century – high fashion called for an ensemble of whalebone-stiffened corset and puff sleeved chemise.
19th century – was devoted largely to achieving fullness in strategic locations. Watch- spring steel was used to make the dome-shaped “cage crinolines” & multiple layers of ruffled petticoats served the purpose for the Cancan girls of the naughty gaslight era.
1930’s – the uplift bra was responsible for the rise of a busty new breed of Hollywood star, of whom Lana Turner was the most prominent as the much photographed “sweater girl.”
1940’s – the spaghetti strap black-satin slip, once considered risqué, was memorably popularized by actress Silvana Mangano in the Italian neo-realist film “Bitter Rice.”
1950’s + 60’s – Swimwear had a mark influence in undergarment styles. The bikini – which was first seen on French beaches in 1946, was transformed into lingerie over a decade later.
The Bullet Bra (featuring exaggerated pointing or cone-shaped cups) and Push-Up Bra (by Frederick’s Of Hollywood) all debuted during this decade. Women now appeared to have breasts that almost reached their necks! Panties became more colorful and decorative.
As the ’50s went on, Elizabeth Taylor in “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” made a fashion statement (and probably scandal) wearing a custom-made-slip through most of that movie.
Slips were also featured in “Psycho” with Janet Leigh in a white bra and slip, than later as a decamping embezzler in a black ensemble.
Frederick’s Of Hollywood and Maidenform became nationally prominent during this decade. Frederick’s was created by Frederick Mellinger (he claimed to have invented the first push-up bra) in 1946. He started out with a racy catalog which quickly became popular, then branched out into a chain of more than 175 stores. You could say that Frederick’s was the Victoria’s Secret of its day.
1970’s – Freedom at last! The modern girl chucks underwear all together. Whether you see the liberation of the female form as a manifestation of women’s lib or the sexual revolution, you’ll agree that it was easy on the wallet. Of course for playboy viewing – easy on the eyes too.
1980’s – Underwear as Outerwear may have started here as Madonna began the trend by wearing her cone bra and girdles over her clothing.
1990’s – Who can forget the famous Calvin Klein underwear ads featuring a young Kate Moss and Marky Mark (Wahlberg) showing off his Calvin Klein boxer briefs. Comfort is more in style – boyshorts for women are BIG.
2013 – As of 2009, the visible wearing of corsets had become fashionable, popularized by stage performers such as Lady Gaga and Rihanna.
And yet what goes around, comes around as they say.
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