The History Of Women's Undergarments

Chambers Twentieth Century dictionary tells us that a corset is "a close fitting stiff inner bodice: stays: a stiff belt coming down over the hips" with a bodice being described as a close fitting inner garment.

Ancient artefacts found in Crete give us our first glimpse of the corset although doubtless women had for centuries before this had worn garments to trim up their waists and emphasize their hips to attract the opposite sex.

The History Of Women's UndergarmentsWe know that from around 3000 BC the ancient Greeks and later the Romans were practicing tight bandaging on the bodies of young girls to encourage slimness and straight limbs as they recognized the desirability of a trim body.

Adult Greek women would wear beneath their robes a shaped leather belt to flatten the tummy, add curves to the hips and raise the breasts.

As their civilization prospered the outer garments worn by the better off became longer and more voluminous with a belt or sash tied at the waist so women became more aware of their curves and restricting their waists.

History does not tell us much about fashion after the demise of the Roman Empire as so much of the known world became overrun by barbarian hordes.

By medieval times the church had become the most influential force and disobedience of religious decrees was not only considered sinful but often harshly punished.

Women's clothes covered them from top to bottom as the church had taught that showing the female form was sinful and for the same reason underwear was primitive and unflattering.

There is evidence that by the 1200s corsets were worn and as women became more fashion conscious they were even worn as outer garments over their dress.

The fifteen hundreds saw dramatic changes in the perception of women's sexuality. Fashions crossed borders and Spain, France Italy and England all had their own input as elaborate gowns requiring exceptional corsetry became de rigueur amongst the upper classes.

Dress featured tiny elongated waists and flat chests that were achieved by corsets made of iron, not dissimilar to the amour worn by the military of the time, and hinged. There are numerous portraits of the ladies of the era, the best known being of Queen Elizabeth the First of England, and they all feature similar body shapes. Throughout the century European royal ladies continued to vie with each other in having the most elaborate and ornate dresses encompassing ever more extreme corsetry.

By the end of the century, fortunately for the ladies of the era, iron corsets became obsolete and were replaced by more comfortable restrictive undergarments using whalebone, bone, wood or flexible steel strips incorporated in the material.

It was at this time that an aptly named accessory to the corset became popular. Known as "the bum roll" it consisted of a ring of padded material with tapes to tie around the waist resulting in the skirt lying horizontally from the waist to give a fullness to the hips and emphasizing the smallness of the waist. The bum roll was worn over an elaborate petticoat held away from the lower body by a number of hoops made from whalebone wood or wire. This way out garment was known as the farthingale and stayed popular in one form or another into the nineteenth century. Although very heavy and uncomfortable it restricted the wearer resulting in an elegant gliding movement when walking.

As fashions progressed into the seventeenth century undergarments became lighter and more shapely. Corsets were designed to give what today we consider a more attractive body shape. Flat chests were out, and more natural curves became the order of the day with corsets acting as support for the breasts rather than restricting them.

The eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries saw corsets develop on this theme with whalebone and wire acting as the principle supports. Bare chests with ample exposure of uplifted bosoms with cleavage became so fashionable that the bounds of decency were in danger of being exceeded.

When Victoria came to the throne the process went into a sharp reversal with women expected to go back to covering themselves from the throat to the ground. It was considered the height of bad taste to reveal even so much as an ankle but fortunately a shapely figure, with the aid of corsets remained acceptable.

Corsets remained a basic prerequisite to accommodate fashion garments until the nineteen fifties when the female form began to be liberated.

The advent of the brassiere at the turn of the twentieth century gradually replaced the necessity of the corset to support the breasts. As time progressed even bras no longer needed to be heavily boned to give a desirable shape. The ever widening range of figure flattering undergarments designed from so many different fabrics and other materials means that women have more choice than ever before to achieve the allure and confidence in their bodies that their sex demands.

If you want to look good in your undergarments control your body fat with these exercise regimes.

by Jaks Lloyd; Tuesday, April 10, 2012 @ 07:48 AM [2881]

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