The Origins of Lingerie: A “Briefs” History
What were the first types of underwear? How did they evolve into modern bras?
Evolution has covered us from ancient clothes to modern bras
Amoena has been making beautiful, supportive lingerie for women since the early 1990s, but we certainly can’t claim to be the first. Inspired by an ongoing exhibition called “Undressed” at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, we’re interested to explore the origins of underwear… aren’t you?
- The lowly loincloth was the first available undergarment, or in the case of warmer climates, was an outer-garment, and the only clothing needed. Loincloths were shaped like triangles, skirts, or simply a long strip of material. They continue to be worn by certain indigenous cultures around the world.
- In the Middle Ages, both men and women wore a garment on the upper part of the body called a chemise (France), or a smock or shift. This piece went underneath the gown or robe, and was a sister garment to the era’s well-known (and bemoaned) corset, which flattened a woman’s bust using straight whalebones in its earliest form.
- As small waists became fashionable in the 1820s, the corset was boned (sometimes with steel) and laced up to form a curvier figure. Tiny waists came to be seen as a symbol of beauty—and often caused women to faint from the discomfort of such unnatural restriction!
- Thankfully, a health movement for more relaxed undergarments took hold, and in the early 1900s women wore less constrictive bodices under their dresses. Camisoles and petticoats, then garters and bloomers, also came into fashion.
- The first modern brassiere was simply two handkerchiefs tied together by a ribbon, and was created by a woman in 1913, who patented the design and marketed it widely in the United States.
From there, bras have developed to the present day, and the most conscientious lingerie designers value comfort as much as, if not more than, the way the bra looks. Our bras are all pocketed, made to hold a breast prosthesis (but if you don’t need one, the pocket is invisible). They do a lot more than cover your parts!