We focus on the origin of lingerie in order to understand what moulds our consumption behaviour today. What encourages our choices when buying lingerie? Are social influences the ones that shape our conduct? Necessity is not related only to compulsive behaviour (buy by impulse or because the lingerie makes us look good), but also to our psychological references (our tastes, our values, our social role models, our experiences, etc.) as well as to social and ideological pressure on us.
Nowadays, lingerie plays a double role: functional and seductive. But where does women’s lingerie come from?
History of underwear
Before Jesus- Christ: Corset prevailed - to reveal the breast.
100 years later:Apodesme was worn, a fabric bandage wrapped under the chest for support.
The era of the Greeks: The Greeks opposed the idea of falling breast.
The era of the Romans:Mamillare was popular back then, a leather brassiere in charge of pressing the breast.
Fall of the Roman Empire: Bosom freedom is back on.
12th century: Tight-fitting garments are back on; good-bye freedom! Corsage was laced, tight and wrapped the body as an armour.
3 centuries later: Women wore a belt under their chest to up-lift corsage, even if the clergy felt offended.
Towards 1910: Corsets became more flexible for bicycle riding.
First World War: While men were fighting, field work was assigned to women. Female traders take over the business responsibility and factories are flowing with female personnel. Deprived of their maid, bourgeois ladies wish to make life simple and they exchange their corset with a girdle, more flexible and easier to put on.
1913: Accession of the brassiere, created by a young American, Mary Phelps Jacob, who had the idea of a bra with the help of handkerchiefs and safety pins. It was not commercialized until 1931.
Finally, history tells us about the evolution in the style of panties:
Paradoxically, strings existed before panties, worn by the primitive communities. It was of basic conception, with a fabric strip and a more sophisticated version, worn by exotic dancers.
The string meets its first modern success in the 70s, mainly for aesthetic reasons: to solve the problem of panty marks, visible under tight trousers shown by models during fashion shows. It’s during the 80s that style is going to change it even more. It’s not until the 90s that the string acquires certain fame and it completely enters lifestyle. Since 2000, it has become a fashion object, to the point that it now represents the highest sales rate in women’s underwear.
To conclude with the origins of women’s lingerie, the type of underwear in each period had different goals: seduction, comfort or freedom. We witness evolution in the role of corset. It was first worn to seduce, then remade with more flexible materials for freedom and comfort. These choices depended on women’s lifestyle, political and religious values, as well as recommended ideas of back then. With women’s freedom in America, we demand underwear that is both comfortable and feminine. Finally, the brassiere, the girdle, the corset, the string and the panties are still worn nowadays but it varies according to popularity.
According to this analysis, are you the Seduction, Comfort or Freedom type?