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The Evolution of Lingerie & Fitting Standards

For those of you who don’t know, Lingerie is a term for fashionable and possibly alluring undergarments. Like most delicate words, Lingerie has a history, both in its industry and the word itself. The Lingerie world has been evolving with the times, the people, and the trends to always ensure we are getting the most out of our undergarments.

The History of Undergarments

What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word Lingerie? Lace, silk, or sheer fabrics with sexually appealing style lines and finishes usually come to mind when we refer to the term. In this century, Lingerie has been made out to be much more than how it started. But let’s take a quick look into the history of this industry; sometimes looking backward can help you understand how and why we’re moving forward.

Lingerie was worn and created with 3 basic purposes: To help with hygiene, to alter a woman’s outer body shaping, and for modesty. It wasn’t until the 19th century that Lingerie became much more visually appealing. During this time, undergarments such as the corset became a lot smaller in size and shape and became a lot less bulky. The 20th century was a little more daring as the industry began to experiment with the overall shape of the undergarments.

The Corset

Can you believe that today, there are over 45 types of undergarments classified as Lingerie? And most of these items usually incorporate fabrics such as Lycra, lace, polyester, silk, nylon, and satin! It’s interesting that despite all the changes in life, technology and the world over the past few centuries, the main purposes for Lingerie today are not much different than how and why Lingerie began to be such an important part of our every day lives. We still wear our undergarments to assist in giving us the type of shape, hold, or lift that we desire, except now the selection is so diverse, that we are able to choose whatever style we want for ourselves.

We also wear many of our undergarments to assist in personal hygiene, like helping create a buffer between your sensitive skin and your clothing.  (Natural fibres like bamboo and cotton come into play here, with hygienic properties like moisture absorbency, breathability – and bamboo is naturally antibacterial!) And, although some people have decided that modesty is over-rated and do not wish to wear undergarments for that purpose, many wear their undergarments for a mental comfort. The major change in the industry regardless of the purpose of the undergarment, has most definitely been the level of comfort of which the design, fabrics and shape has been given during production. There are so many different shapes and sizes, colours, fabrics, care instructions, and inner materials used so that the consumer can choose which of these things are most important to them at the time of purchasing.

The Perfect Fit

So what’s new to the lingerie industry?  The standard on fit. This system started in the UK and is very quickly becoming an important industry standard all over North America and the US. Basically, this entails the notion that anyone working in any Lingerie store will be able to properly size and fit any customer who walks through the door prior to purchasing. This is a system that was used primarily in smaller, more expensive boutique type Lingerie stores to enhance the over-all experience.  Now it has become so crucial to people’s lives that they have undergarments that are comfortable and fit properly to their body type and figure, even the bigger retail stores are inheriting this method; soon it will be a mandatory standard.  (The Bra Doctor approves.)

It is interesting to take a quick look into the history, to be reminded of things that are taken so easily for granted since they are just naturally a part of our every day lives.  Now that we have taken a glance at how it all began we are able to appreciate the advancements and all the industry changes that are even still adapting and working to take effect! This is certainly one industry that will forever be changing, growing, and learning from its past – for our benefit!

In which direction do you think the lingerie industry is going next?

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Photo Credits and Sources: 

Historic Eras of Undergarments

Photo-The history of undergarments

Photo-The Corset

Photo-The Perfect Fit

Featured Image – Kestos Vintage Poster 



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