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From Corsets to Girdles: A brief History of Women’s Intimate Apparel

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Many women today wouldn’t be able to recognize early prototypes of lingerie. Before the 20th century, women mostly wore highly restrictive metal contraptions that although had been built to shape a more feminine form, paid little attention to being stylish.

Underwear or panties, which throughout history have been called pantaloons, bloomers, knickers, and drawers was first worn by Catherine de Midici during the French Revolution because she wanted to properly ride a horse. The 70’s brought along the Sexual Revolution and underwear became smaller and skimpier.

The history of lingerie goes hand in hand with fashion history and the change in ideal body types. Corsets were the defining undergarment from the 14th to the late 19th century to restrain and enhance the look of women’s breasts.

Women have made many strides in the past century. So too, has the business of lingerie. It can be said that this historical, political change influenced the need for certain garments to evolve to allow for less restrictive movements. In 1920, women gained the right to vote. In this same decade, World War I ended, women’s skirts became shorter and the bob was the hairstyle of the moment. The ideal body type of the Jazz Era was a boyish figure: flat chests and straight hips. This meant that corsets made way for the chemise, the first pastel underwear came on the market, and lingerie makers had to address the issue of falling stockings, as the shimmy was the popular dance during this time. Originally, stockings had held up by attachment to a woman’s corset with suspenders. Lingerie manufacturers were persuaded to abandon their old contraptions that kept the flesh covered as much as possible. However, mass produced undergarments did not occur until 1930.

In 1940, the DuPont Company introduced the first nylon stockings in New York department stores. During World War II, nylon production went toward the war effort as parachutes and tents, so many women painted seam lines on the back of their legs to give the appearance of stockings.

In 1959 pantyhose were invented by Allen Grant Sr. Women began to shorten their hemlines and visible stockings with garters would have been tacky. Today’s society has moved from hiding and covering underneath as much as possible to fashionable lingerie meant to show off. There is also a wide variety of lingerie available for everyone’s taste, from conservative bra and underwear sets to fetish wear, which has made a more modern version of the corset popular in some circles. People now have the freedom to wear what they want.

Since 2011 Orlinas has been making high quality bras for every occasion. Our designers are a group of women who know the female form well, and these bras address the support and lift issues while staying on top of the latest trends. Available are flesh toned, simple bras for the office to more feminine and flirty designs such as the Elegant push in push up bra and the Luxury embroidery push in push up bra. These bras are also made with special materials that promote circulation, metabolism and correct posture and back support problems. All bras have cups that are lined with 100% cotton for maximum comfort, style, and function suitable for everyday use, date nights, or formal occasions. 

 

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  • Sofia Johnson
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