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The Lingerie League: Classy Undergarments Then and Now

Updated on June 2, 2012
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Corset Couture

We've come a long way baby!! Although lingerie has always been thought of as sexy, the ideal has definitely changed over time. Today, sexy lingerie is more natural (thankfully) and enhances the shape of a woman's body with sheer, soft fabric that seems to hug ever so gently in all the right places. The corset, has always been the most controversial, for a number of reasons.

Society in the Middle ages tended to restrain the body, a-la-corset, cinching the waist in and breasts up and out, kind of an exaggerated full-line "wonder bra". Comfort was not part of the undergarment equation during this era - using whalebone, and other rigid materials to accentuate the breasts and hips women were pushed and pulled so they could hardly breathe. In fact, during the Renaissance, Doctors saw many women who had fainted in severe pain due to the pressure on the ribs and one woman is said to have actually died when her ribs punctured her liver. The cost of being beautiful really makes one wonder...Who sets these trends anyway? Certainly NOT a woman?

When the eighteenth century rolled around, boudoir fashion lightened up a bit and corsets were decorated with beautiful embroidery and adorned with artistic decorations. The bust line, still threatened to pop right out, however, because of the health dangers, Doctors continued to complain that women's insides were being pressed too severely and these unnatural corset contraptions were finally outlawed by the end of the eighteenth century. Amen!

The nineteenth century brought about a redesigned corset for every occasion, perhaps a bit more comfortable, with smaller pieces of boning used to enhance the female form in all the right places. Women had a wardrobe of corsets, much like today's bra collections. Different outfit - different corset, n'est-ce pas? Finally, in 1913, Mary Phelps Jacob developed a new type of bra, shorter and more comfortable than the corset. After the design gained popularity, she applied for a patent and eventually sold to the Warner Company.

When women joined the workforce after World War I, the corset was simply not practical anymore and lost it's appeal. The "bra" seemed to change it's purpose of flattening breasts in 1920 to accentuating them and then in 1935, Warner's gave bras cup sizes, symbolizing the fact that women do come in all shapes and sizes! The glamour of the 1950s brought back the hourglass shape, thanks to Lana Turner and Jane Russel. Lingerie companies sprung up everywhere. The feminist movements of the 1960s and 1970s rebelled against these restrictive undergarments though and as some of us remember, the burning of the bra left no doubt about the age of freedom & liberation for women.

Moving right along, technology took hold in the late 1970s and so did the return of cleavage. New fabrics, materials and techniques brought about inventions these past few decades like the "Wonder Bra", "Gel Bra" and "Water Bra", just to name a few. Today women have much more of a choice when it comes to under garments, comfortable and sexy describe today's bras and corsets, and announces to the world that if women are going to look seductive and sexy then it will be on their terms and it better feel good enough wear, no pain intended.

 

Lingerie To Die For?

Today's Lingerie European Style

I used to get into my Mother's lingerie drawer as a child, searching for the frilliest lace undergarments I could find, fastening each haphazardly and usually upside down on the outside of my clothes and then modeling and posing for the mirror. Amazing how the right black feather boa can make anything glamorous. That is the feeling that the "right" lingerie will emulate, of course everyone has their own idea of glam, that's what makes it fun.

About 10 years ago I worked weekends in my Aunt's small high-end European Lingerie Boutique, located downtown in an affluent area. She tailored to a limited number of women who did not necessarily look at the price tag associated with what they were trying on - these women, and some men, were shopping for the very best, most flattering, quality undergarments that money can buy! When a new line would arrive, they would receive a prompt courtesy call informing them that they should come in asap and check out the great new look that just arrived.

Everyone has a favorite style or maybe two, whether you like Hanro's plain and simple White Cotton Undies and Cami or a sexy Lise Charmel Black Lacy Shelf Bra Ensemble, they don't come cheap but have the power to transform you into something special when you put them on. Whether you are preparing for a night with that special someone, or you just want to feel beautiful underneath - Lingerie is an ego boost like no other, which we all need every now and then.


Fancy Pants

GIULIETTA presented for the first time in soft shades of Guava, Sweet Lilac, Vetiver and White is Giulietta, a pima cotton based grouping. Featuring a low rider thong, low rider hotpant, soft bra, wide strap camisole, spaghetti strap babydoll.
GIULIETTA presented for the first time in soft shades of Guava, Sweet Lilac, Vetiver and White is Giulietta, a pima cotton based grouping. Featuring a low rider thong, low rider hotpant, soft bra, wide strap camisole, spaghetti strap babydoll. | Source
Sensational feminine inlaid lace make this especially classy, with or without clothing
Sensational feminine inlaid lace make this especially classy, with or without clothing | Source
Very seductive basic black for a night at home or an evening out, you will feel like a Goddess even if no one but you knows what you are wearing
Very seductive basic black for a night at home or an evening out, you will feel like a Goddess even if no one but you knows what you are wearing | Source
Marshall, this pure Vintage range in ivory by Bon Bon brings out your figure seductively, as the superfine lining hugs your body. Fashionable all-over lace and trendy stretch retro-look cotton is combined with a delicate confection of soft frills, sw
Marshall, this pure Vintage range in ivory by Bon Bon brings out your figure seductively, as the superfine lining hugs your body. Fashionable all-over lace and trendy stretch retro-look cotton is combined with a delicate confection of soft frills, sw | Source

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    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathy 

      6 years ago from California

      Thank you sweetstreak! You are right, there is always something new to learn about lingerie and its many uses throughout history-I know I learned a few things too ;-)

    • sweetstreak profile image

      sweetstreak 

      6 years ago from pobox 8836. Moscow Idaho 83843

      This is a good common sense Blog. Very helpful to one who is just finding the resources about this part. It will certainly help educate me.

      http://sweetstreak.com

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathy 

      6 years ago from California

      Thanks for visiting KDF, I am glad you came by ;-)

    • KDF profile image

      KDF 

      6 years ago from Central Illinois

      Great stuff! Gonna have to have the Mrs. come check out this hub. Thanks! Voted Up! I really like your writings

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      No way Kath, definitely a male device and definitely for male pleasure!

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathy 

      6 years ago from California

      Thanks tillsontitan, you are so right, I heard about that! Although I love the clothes and styles of that era, I sure don't miss the torture that is associated with some pieces...and it still happens, 5 inch heels could not be made by a woman-do you think?

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Being a 'johnny-come-lately' to this hub I can only add it was fun to read and really well written and the pictures are great. You know your stuff! Just wanted to add that corsets were responsible for women having 'the vapors' which is when they passed out because they couldn't breathe! I remember those modified corsets that we called girdles. Voted up.

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathy 

      6 years ago from California

      Thanks for stopping in billips! I appreciate your comments!

      Yes it does bring back memories :-)

    • billips profile image

      billips 

      6 years ago from Central Texas

      An interesting hub - brings back a lot of memories - B.

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathy 

      7 years ago from California

      Thanks for stopping in to the undies department Ethel, always nice to see you - I agree, I think that today we do have more choices!

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Nice hub for the guys lol. Underwear today is kinder to wear is my opinion.

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathy 

      7 years ago from California

      Yeah, especially when you think about wearing that ever day...Trying it was enough for me. Sometimes I wish they would use real women to model this stuff but then it would never sell (LOL) See ya soon...Thanks for commenting!

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 

      7 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Well, CK...I remember, as a teenager, wearing a 'girdle' and nylon stockings attached w/garter clips. It was SO uncomfortable but, mom and everyone else was doing it and I felt so sexy then..now, well, it's another story and I surely do not look like the beautiful women here...but then, esta es la vida! Fun hub. Thanks for the memories!!

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathy 

      7 years ago from California

      Thanks Audrey, lingerie is a lot of fun, although it's been awhile since I have had a chance to indulge, thankfully it is no longer a painful endeavor :-) So glad you came for a visit!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      7 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Refreshing and unique, Kathi. Absolutely love this. I laughed so hard at Green Lotus' comments.:) Great photos.

      Gee, "we've come a long way, baby". And I, for one, am happy about that! Rated up. A hit! :) vocalcoach

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathy 

      7 years ago from California

      Thank you poorconservative - So glad you stopped by!

    • poorconservative1 profile image

      poorconservative1 

      7 years ago

      Very well written, I like the pictures too.

      Thanks

      Chuck

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathy 

      7 years ago from California

      Thank you Crystolite! I am glad you stopped by! :)

    • crystolite profile image

      Emma 

      7 years ago from Houston TX

      cool, hot and sexy hub.keep it up

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathy 

      7 years ago from California

      Thank you ImChemist - I am glad you enjoyed. Lingerie is lots of fun for all!

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathy 

      7 years ago from California

      Thanks Green Lotus-

      Yep, At this point, I think I have accepted my "flaws" just glad that I never did anything drastic for "beauty's sake. That era was amazing though!

    • ImChemist profile image

      ImChemist 

      7 years ago

      Wow , very sexy and beautiful pictures thanks for sharing it . your hub rated beautiful.

    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Ah one of my favorite topics and the old photos are priceless especially the classy broad with the cigarette. Thank goodness we aren't removing our ribs anymore, just sucking out the fat. LOL! Great stuff chatkath. rated as such.

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathy 

      7 years ago from California

      Thank you Darski-

      I have been doing some reading myself, you have quite a collection of experiences & Hubs! Now I know why I felt such connection to you! You are a remarkable survivor & such an inspiration! I will email you later about poems.

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 

      7 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      Very cool and sexy hub, love it you are quiet creative my friend. Keep writing your good. rate up love & peace darski

    • Chatkath profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathy 

      7 years ago from California

      Hi Epi - thanks so much for your feedback, although I don't know if these euro-sizes would accommodate your Ms. Hiney, I am sure we could special order something ?:)

      I must confess that in addition to my Aunt's Lingerie Boutique, I also marketed silicone breasts (not implants-these slip into a bra) & other girly things for a direct marketing company for over 12 years, so I guess I am no stranger to the world of lingerie.

      Come back and visit anytime Epi!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 

      7 years ago

      ...well just let me be the first proud papa to say this the greatest invention they ever came up with - probably designed by men for the viewing pleasure of men - lol lol - the lingerie industry has taken on a life all of its own - witness Victoria's Secrets or Fredericks of Hollywood - but I must say your hub has taken on a life all its own - you have really done an excellent job here

      with all of your research and homework. And you are in a 'league' of your own with this hub - just hubfantastic!

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