LINGERIE NOW AND THEN -FROM MY BOOK ‘DRESS TO IMPRESS’

Hello Everyone

Before we go shopping for bras, which will be the next time, let us look how underwear became what it is today.

Underwear as we understand it did not come into existence until the later Middle Ages. Most underpinnings started as outerwear and than went underneath, usually because they became more functional. The most elementary of early garments for both sexes was the loincloth, a forerunner of what is known to us as the brief. The corset started as an outer garment as early as the twelfth century, but not until three centuries later did it become an undergarment used by women and men to improve on nature by artificially shaping the body and influencing the look of fashion for many years.

Another original function of underwear was to protect outerwear – often made from elaborate and costly fabrics which could not easily be washes – and no dry cleaning was available in the 18th century and before. Undergarments were therefore, made from cotton or linen, which was easy to wash.

By 1900 underwear was being made from silk,satin, and lace and was becoming seductive and a fashion in itself. As such, it now had a name of its own – lingerie.

It took the form of negligees, peignoirs, corsets (the Gibson Girl S-shape corset of 1904), combinations, drawers. and petticoats.

       The first corsets were made from wood, bone and iron. Warner Brothers even made one that claimed to be rust- proof.

Underwear followed and adapted to the fashion trends of outerwear. In 1907 the French designer Paul Poiret banished the curved S-shaped figure by bringing into fashion a more natural shape, and with it the brassiere was born. In 1913 came a new concept of the brassiere, when the American Mary Philips Jacobs (later known as Caresse Crosby) brought out a new soft, short model that separated the breasts.

By the way, the terminology used to describe underwear has undergone constant change. Lingerie became known as undies in the 1920’s, and petticoats became petties. Brassiere was shortened to “bra” in the 1930’s.  Drawers became step-ins, then pants or panties; only after 1950 were they called briefs.

The discovery of nylon by Du Pont in 1938 is the most important invention in the history of underwear. Its attractiveness and low-cost allowed underwear to be less expensive, and therefore available to women of all classes.

Elastic fabrics began to affect corsetry in the early 1920’s when shop catalogues referred to “corsets of porous elastic.” They were further improved by new machinery that came into use in the 1950s, when fully elasticized foundation garments were made and introduced to the popular market.

With the youth explosion of the 1960s, underwear took a dramatic turn. The miniskirt had a lot to do with the disappearance of the girdle, regarded for many years as a must for a good figure. Tights and pantyhose replaced stocking, and made garter belts and girdles unnecessary. Underwear was losing it attraction. More and more women wore only a bra and tights or pantyhose.

The see-through fashions that appeared in the 1960s and Rudi Gernreich’s no-bra bra, introduced in 1963, minimized the concept of underwear even further. The molded seamless flesh-colored concept took over. Women now wore underwear that was nearly invisible….and so were they.This type of lingerie does not enhance any woman’s sex appeal. It might be necessary under certain clothes, such as knits, but I am sure that every woman has clothes in her wardrobe that will allow for a more exciting image than the flesh-color look. Fortunately for us, designers today give us plenty of choices.

Lingerie is a good way to start changing your image to be more seductive. Knowing that you look sexy in your underwear will affect your attitude and give you courage to try more sexy looking clothes.

Note: In a survey in which men were asked what the biggest turn-off is when it comes to underwear – 99% answered PANTYHOSE.  So maybe when you go out on a date try hose and a  garter belt!

Until the next time

                      STAY WELL AND LOOK YOUR BEST

                                                          Brigitte

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Author: Brigitte Nioche

Author of Living Longer, Living Well - How to Embrace the Challenges of a Long Life. Other titles - Dress to Impress, The Sensual Dresser, What Turns Men On.

11 thoughts on “LINGERIE NOW AND THEN -FROM MY BOOK ‘DRESS TO IMPRESS’”

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