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The Lingerie League: Classy Undergarments Then and Now
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.