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The History of Women’s Underwear: From Corsets To Briefs 

Women’s underwear has been around for centuries, and the history of undergarments is fascinating. From wearing uncomfortable corsets in the 1500s to owning oh-so-cozy briefs today, undergarments have evolved and changed over time, and there are now a wide variety of styles and fabrics to choose from. Keep reading to learn more!

The 17th Century

Underwear for women in the 17th century was a very important part of their wardrobe. They wore different types of undergarments for different occasions. For everyday wear, women typically wore chemise and drawers. The chemise was a type of shirt that was worn under the dress. It was made out of cotton or linen and was loose-fitting. The drawers were a type of panty that was worn under the chemise. They were made out of the same materials as the chemise and were also loose-fitting. Women also wore undergarments for special occasions. For example, they might wear a corset or a bustier for a formal event. The corset was a type of bodice that was worn to shape and support the body. The bustier was similar to the corset, but it was specifically designed to emphasize the bust.

The 18th Century

Underwear for women in the 18th century consisted of stays, petticoats, and a shift. Stays were a type of corset that helped to give a woman’s body a more desired shape. They were often made out of whalebone and were very stiff. Petticoats were puffy skirts that were worn under a woman’s dress. They helped to add volume and shape to the dress. A shift was a type of shirt that was worn under a woman’s dress. It was made out of linen and was meant to be as plain as possible.

The 19th Century

Underwear in the 19th century was a very important part of a woman’s wardrobe. They wore different types of undergarments for different occasions. For everyday wear, women would typically wear chemise and drawers. The chemise was a long, white shirt that was worn under the dress. It was loose-fitting and had a high neckline. The drawers were a type of pants that fit snugly around the waist and legs. They were made of cotton or linen and were often decorated with lace.

The 20th Century

Underwear in the 20th century was a time of great change for the industry. With the invention of the washing machine, undergarments could be made out of cheaper and more durable materials, like cotton. This led to the popularization of briefs and boxer briefs, which were less likely to get dirty than traditional undergarments. Female undergarments also saw a lot of change in the 20th century. Bras were first invented in the early 20th century, and quickly became a popular item for women. Panties also became more popular, and manufacturers began to experiment with different designs and materials.

The 21st Century


Underwear has come a long way in the last hundred years or so. What once was seen as a purely functional piece of clothing is now often seen as a fashion statement in its own right. And while the basics (briefs, boxer briefs, and bras) have remained largely the same, the materials and styles have changed dramatically.

It is now made from a wider variety of materials. Cotton is still the most popular choice, but you can also find undergarments made from silk, lace, nylon, and other materials. And unlike in the past, when undergarments were often plain and utilitarian, now you can find all sorts of fun and colorful designs. Undergarments have also become a lot more comfortable in recent years. The materials are softer and the designs are more forgiving. This is especially true of bras, which are now often made from stretchy materials that fit snugly and provide lots of support.

Overall, the history of underwear is an important topic because it demonstrates how women’s underwear has evolved over time to better meet the needs of women. Each type of undergarment has served a specific purpose, from providing support and shaping the body to protecting against leaks and stains. While there have been some bumps in the road, such as the popularity of the corset, the history of women’s underwear is ultimately a story of progress and innovation.

Red Note: 30 September 2022

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