150 Years of Lingerie History
by Andrew Sia

I am taking you through this journey into the history of lingerie, starting with corsets in the 19th century to the hottest item today, the bralette, through the article as published by the fashion magazine, Elle. I’ve added context (fashion trends, after all, are influenced by the changing culture,) with the addition of historic events from the 1860s, when it was crinoline for the aristocrats – the 1890s, when women were laced for the wasp’s waist – the 1930s, which marked the birth of the brassiere – the 1940s, with the introduction of bra pads – and the 1990s, when Victoria’s Secret began to dominate the lingerie world and Jean Paul Gaultier produced sculptured costumes for Madonna starting with the infamous cone bra for her Blond Ambition World Tour.

In the 1850s

During the middle of the 19th century, the fashion silhouette for women was more towards that of an hourglass. Steel and whalebone were used to achieve the ideal of an 18” waist, which required women to be squeezed from the abdomen and diaphragm (with the inability to breathe that resulted often leading to fainting spells.)

Forget any considerations of comfort, this fashion was pure torture.

In the 1860s

President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 15, 1865.

The hoop skirt was something that was not meant for sitting. Crinoline was used to expand the hoop skirt, and the wearer required the assistance of others to get in and out of the garment. It also required incredible balance on the part of the wearer to achieve the desired elegance of movement…

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