Hidden History of Lingerie
Happy Lingerie Day!
This year, Lingerie Day is April 25, 2021.
Here are 5 things you probably didn't know about the history of lingerie.
Lingerie has always been closely tied to women's beauty standards and women's liberation. We've come a long way from wearing bones and metal... or have we? Here are five fun facts about our intimates.
1) Lingerie was around hundreds of years before people starting wearing underwear.
The chemise was the first type of lingerie and it dates back to the Middle Ages, but the term chemise was first popularized by Queen Marie Antoinette.
Chemises were the only undergarment worn. Underwear wasn’t widely worn until 1900.
2) Fainting Rooms: because lingerie used to make women pass out.
Fainting was so common for women that there was a room dedicated just for this activity. Corsets were laced so tightly, they restricted blood flow and airflow to the lungs, causing fainting.
These fainting rooms were also used to treat "female hysteria," which is no longer recognized as a medical disorder. Treatment included pelvic massages from doctors with vibrating devices, but that is another (shocking) story....
3) We stopped wearing corsets because of the U.S. War Industries Board
Some women were pro-corset; they loved the look they achieved. Other women argued against it - calling it oppressive because it prohibited women from performing basic functions like breathing, eating and moving.
Despite any argument, corsets ultimately went out of style because of a metal shortage. The War Industries Board asked women to stop buying corsets in 1917. It freed up enough metal to build two battleships for WWI.
3) The corset is still popular today... in a new form.
The corset is back in a new form: waist trainers. These are sold as a quick way to lose weight and, unfortunately, often target women experiencing body image issues postpartum.
"A plus about fashion is you put something on for fun to present yourself in a certain way and make a statement, and then you take it off. The trend for waist training feels different – it requires a desire to change your body." - Caryn Franklin
Waist trainers have proven ineffective in weight loss, while also causing the same pain, discomfort, shortness of breath and medical issues as the original corset.
But we believe beauty doesn't have to be pain, and your body is beautiful the way it is! Corset-inspired styles that provide a beautiful accentuation of the natural female figure are just as beautiful (and not painful).
4) The first bralette was made with handkerchiefs and ribbon
Mary Phelps Jacob was getting ready for a debutante ball in 1910 and was fed up with her uncomfortable whalebone corset. She asked her maid to bring her a sewing kit, two handkerchiefs and some ribbon and put them altogether to make a bra.
Her newfound ability to breath and move was so intriguing to other women at the ball, she got the design patented and is sometimes recognized as the inventor of the bra.
5) Western women first starting wearing pajamas to the beach, not to sleep