Welcome back! Hopefully you were all tantalised by part one of this series and you’re looking forward to discovering more about how undergarments have not only contributed, but often played a defining part, in fashion throughout history. Picking right back up where we left off, just before the first world war, I’d like to invite you delve into the first half of the 20th century with me.

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The changing silhouettes of World War II underpinnings

The role of women was already beginning to change as the Edwardian era drew to a close but this was greatly accelerated as the outbreak of the first World War became imminent. For, arguably, the first time, it was now accepted that women were not only capable of doing jobs previously reserved for men, but they actually excelled in them. These newly discovered skills called for a change in clothing; women now required practicality within their wardrobes which, in turn, brought along the further lowering of corsets and introduction of garments such as brassieres and step ins.

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A beautiful showcase of the well-known flapper silhouette synonymous with the 1920s.

The silhouette of the 1920s was unmistakably straight and fashion dictated that women should flatten their curves, often using bandeau bras and tightly fitting girdles to achieve this look.  You’d be forgiven for thinking that the war might have dulled the lavish styles and fabrics used in lingerie, however this simply wasn’t the case. Whilst the introduction of mass manufacture became more commonplace, the incredible hand sewn techniques and luxurious fibres were not lost and the 20s and 30s brought us lingerie of unrivalled beauty.

As we move into the 1930s and 40s, separates were in vogue; a much more relaxed overall shape and one not too dissimilar to the lingerie we’re used to today. Comfort was more of a priority for the modern woman, however stockings were now the must have accessory as hem lines continued to rise.

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 Late 1930s advert showcasing the varied stocking styles available

 In the third and final part of this series we will look in detail at the second half of the 20th century and lingerie’s place in modern society.

Written by Ellis of Effie Butterworth