If you were curious what the origin of lingerie is, then you should learn that the term ‘lingerie’ has been derived from old French ‘linge’, which means linen. Though lingerie has been in use since B.C, the term ‘lingerie’ was not used to refer to the underclothing until the late 1850’s. In ancient times, even the mention of lingerie was considered scandalous.
While it is not possible to trace the exact roots of lingerie, the first record of its use has been collected from Egypt, which dates back to 3000 BC. Several terracotta figurines discovered throughout the ancient Near East suggest that different types of undergarments were worn during those times. Many female statues in classical Greece wear a crossed band over their shoulders and across the breast. A band of linen worn by women around the waist and lower torso has been mentioned in the ancient writings of Greece as well.
During the Middle Ages, linen underclothes were worn by nobility to protect their expensive outer dresses from body dirt, as also to provide a layer of warmth. Chemise and later corset were introduced in the 4th and 16th centuries. Chemise was typically worn by women under petticoats. Modern fashion emerging from Medieval Europe concentrated on tailoring the clothing design according to the body shape. This was the time when women started to wear tight-fitting undergarments, so as to manipulate the shape of their bodies. Corset was extensively used by women in this age.
The beginning of 20th century introduced an alternative to the corset, in the form of bust bodices that supported the bosom as a whole. In 1914, Mary Phelps-Jacobs, an American, patented her lingerie design by the name Caresse-Crosby. The design consisted of two silk handkerchiefs tied to one another with ribbon straps and a seam in the center front. She sold her idea to the Warner’s, which introduced the first sizing with only A, B &C, as late as 1935. In Britain, the junior and medium sizing was used until the 50’s.
All through the 20th century, the development and advancement of manmade fabrics, such as nylon, DuPont’s Lycra, polyester, and Elastane, brought dramatic changes in the development of lingerie. New fabrics paved way for the fashioning of lightweight, supportive, flexible and seamless lingerie.
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