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Article: The evolution of women's underwear after the 1920s

The evolution of women's underwear after the 1920s

I have a great passion for underwear, I supported my thesis at the IED on the evolution of lingerie.

Do you know that women's underwear has undergone a very long evolution and that it has had a role of primary importance since ancient times? From an aesthetic and also containment point of view, therefore useful for the well-being of women.

The invention of the bra must go back to the early twentieth century. It seems that it was designed by a New York lady Mary Phelps Jacobs who, to support her rather full breasts, used a crossed handkerchief complete with ribbons for fastening. .

While corsets began to disappear in that era, traditional knickers also became smaller, transforming into briefs with decidedly smaller dimensions.

In the 1920s, the "Garconne" fashion was born, inspired by a masculine ideal of women with small, barely visible breasts and narrow, slender hips. Therefore the bra was transformed into a simple control band to hide the female form as much as possible. They were very elastic and comfortable, and therefore also suitable for Charleston dancers.

In 1925 the most requested bra was the "Kestos" , made with two scarves with an elastic band around the back that buttoned under each cup. So the cups could be adjusted, and it was the first bra to consider that every woman has different breasts.

The evolution of women's underwear after the 1920s

In the 1930s, women's interest in curves returned, and above all they wanted to raise and separate their breasts. This was the era in which the alphabetical classification of breast size, i.e. ABCD, was defined.

The most popular colors were pink and peach, whereas before then bras were always white.

In this period the petticoat also made its appearance, generally produced in silk enriched with lace inlays or with refined embroidery.

At the end of the decade, nylon was invented, a synthetic fabric that replaces cotton and silk, decisively revolutionizing the manufacturing of lingerie.

In the 1940s, Frederick Mellinger used his time at war to plot an economic plan. He questioned the military about underwear, and when the war ended, he created Frederick's of Hollywood , specializing in the production of lingerie. The company was very successful and soon became popular among Hollywood stars.

The roaring '50s are characterized by the fashion of "pin-ups" which brings the aesthetic value of the female form back to the foreground, enhanced by sexy and mischievous underwear.

This is the period of guepières and the bullet bra . Garments that highlight curves by focusing on large breasts, narrow waists and wide hips.

In the 1960s the miniskirt made its appearance, decisively influencing all fashion: it became mandatory to wear tights which replaced the now outdated stockings with garter belts and even briefs became very small. In this phase, women's underwear becomes colorful and favors patterns of all kinds.

With the birth of feminism, the 70s brought with them many changes: women abandoned the bra, but opted for extremely sober lingerie, to hide their femininity considered as a limit.

In the following decade, the female universe returned to being attracted by seduction and eroticism, dusting off the corsets, corsets, garter belts and very small bras. It is in this period that the thong makes its appearance.

One of the most important evolutions of the 80s is the bodysuit , sexy in lace usually white or black. While in the following decade it transformed into a sports garment characterized by the fact that it was made from a single piece of elastic and snug-fitting material. Made in many colors and very high cut.

In the 90s, lingerie aimed to combine practicality and elegance, favoring snug and soft synthetic fabrics that do not compress the shapes, leaving them as natural as possible. Calvin Klein 's underwear line was very popular at the time, with its unisex and minimalist style.

Hold-up stockings return while briefs come in numerous models including thongs, Brazilian briefs, culottes and traditional high-cut types.

Bras become garments that can be shown, perhaps by combining them with coordinated tops, to be worn as elegant under-jackets.

All with a view to sober classicism and extreme wearability, ideal for the career woman.