Look At History Of Lingerie and Their Journey

Women have been wearing underclothes that are deigned to shape, support or disguise their figures and breasts for thousands of years. The earliest records of women wearing underwear or lingerie date back 3000 years to Cretan women who wore corsets on their hips under their ceremonial dresses. This was designed to accentuate the waist and hips, giving a womanly shape.

In the 1500's the fashion was to lift this bust whilst lengthening the body and creating a tiny waist. It has been said that position at court was synonymous with the circumference of a ladies waist; the smaller her waist measurement the higher status she enjoyed. Corsets are traditionally made from linen that has been made stiff through coating with paste.

The structure is created using boning and it is these vertical strips that force the wearer to assume an upright posture. Corsets are laced up (usually on the rear) using a criss cross lacing pattern. This allowed women to be tightly laced into their corsets forcing the body into the desired shape. This is also referred to as being 'straight-laced' into a corset and the phrases acquired its modern sentiment of be purist and prudish after it became associated with the puritan women of the 17th century.

The Empire line dress became popular during the time of Jane Austen, after the French Revolution of 1789. This style of dress was gathered around the bust and hugged the ribcage immediately under the breasts before falling away in a gentle line that skimmed the hips. The simple, loose fitting style accentuated the bust but gave very little definition to the hips and waist.

This meant that corsets were no longer required to be as highly structured as they were for the restrictive and ostentatious fashions of the 18th century. During this period women wore longer corsets that also shaped the rear and thighs, although it is suggested that some women wore no corsetry at all! In the early nineteenth century waistlines lowered to a more natural position and fashion became more restrictive. The light flowing dresses of Austen's period were replaced with full skirted styles with structured bodices. These more structured dresses were designed to accentuate a hour glass shape figure with the holy grail being an 18 inch waist. The industrial revolution occurred during the Victorian era and saw the dawn of manufactured consumer goods. The production of corsetry moved from hand stitched pieces, made to measure in cottage industries to mass production in factories after the invention of the sewing machine.

This saw the shift from corsetry as an expensive single item that took time to produce to a mass produced everyday item. The fact that production was so much cheaper and quicker meant that women could buy a variety of styles. During this period corsets were developed for a wide range of sporting activities including horse riding and golf and were even designed for pregnant women! Corsets became mass produced at such a rate that the whale bone traditionally used for the vertical boning became scarce and manufacturers were forced to seek out other materials. These included; cane, metal, buffalo bone and steam moulding the corset to create structure.

Development of the Bra It was not until the start of the twentieth century that sexy lingerie bras as we know them today entered the fashion world. Mary Phelps-Jacob, an American, is credited with the first bra prototype, which she patented in 1914. The design, known as the Caresse-Crosby, was similar in style to a triangle bikini top with ribbons forming the straps and silk handkerchiefs creating the cups.

The Caresse-Crosby sparked very little interest and as a result Phelps-Jacob sold her design to Warner's for $1500. Cup sizes as we know them today came into force in the United States during the 1930s, however in the UK the terms junior and medium were used to denote cup sizes well into the 1950s. Over the last 50-60 years there have been major developments in the sexy lingerie industry with radical changes in construction, cup shapes and of course materials - particularly with the development of man made fibres such as Lycra. There are now a wide range of bra styles available and there's no doubt there will be further development.

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