Welcome back to the third and final instalment of this series. So far we have travelled through the eras and importance of undergarments, beginning with the Victorians up until the second World War. During this post we will be looking at how lingerie has changed from the 1950s right up to today.
Shapewear and petticoats saw a steep rise in popularity during the 1950s.
Whilst underpinnings were seemingly becoming smaller up until the second world war, once out the other side, things began to change. War rationing was not only applied to food but also to materials, meaning that undergarments were considered more of a necessity than a fashion aid. However, after the war was over, couture houses were sure to make up for lost time and figure altering shapewear and full skirts were back in vogue.
It would be wrong to go through a history of undergarments without addressing the infamous bullet bra. Known for creating a pointed breast shape and popularised by Hollywood starlets such as Lana Turner and Marilyn Monroe, it remained a crucial shape of fashion throughout the 50s and 60s.
Marilyn Monroe sporting a bullet bra, a prime example of how undergarments were necessary to create the popular shapes of the time.
Despite the ever changing styles, underwear has remained relatively restrictive, often with the use of padding and boning to help achieve whichever shape was popular at the time. The 1970s and 80s saw all of this change. Women’s role in society was continuing to change and there was a definite sense of rebellion in the air of fashion. Sheer, lacy lingerie was now at the forefront; the working woman required practicality alongside self-empowering, sexy design.
Victoria’s Secret ad from 1979, interestingly, styles very similar to this are still available to buy today.
Everyday, high street underwear looks have remained relatively unchanged in recent years, however it’s crucial to note how much vintage undergarments are once again influencing our fashion choices. UK lingerie brands including What Katie Did, My Retro Closet and Effie Butterworth are working to bring styles from earlier eras back to life and your wardrobe.
I’d like to thank everyone for reading this series and I hope that it has been enjoyable. Obviously there are many tangents I haven’t been able to explore in these short posts however, if I’ve captured your interest, I would recommend looking into medical corsetry or inflatable bras for a little further indulgence!
Written by Ellis of Effie Butterworth