back to top

Women's Lingerie Through History

From corsets to Spanx... ladies slayed bedroom style.

Posted on

We've come quite a long way with what we wear — or don't wear *wink wink* — in the bedroom. From corsets to teddies to bralettes, this is the history of women's lingerie:

View this video on YouTube

BuzzFeedYellow / Via

The bell-shaped hoop skirt became vogue in the early 1700s in France and was considered quite a scandal. Contemporary conservatives of the time thought they were a display of vanity and therefore sexuality – especially since it was thought the hoop skirt originated from hiding unwanted pregnancies.

Hoop skirts, however, prevailed throughout the century and towards the mid to late 1700s, became so wide and uncomfortable that they were condemned by published pamphlets in England as being a public nuisance.

BuzzFeed Video

Variations of the hoop skirt developed throughout the 1700s. Panniers — an oblong hoop skirt that was flat in the front and back — were created to emphasize the hips. There was also a simple bum roll, which was essentially a small pillow that rested on the rear and tied around the waist.

And the OG waist trainers were corsets, which were used to thin out and one’s shape waist. These garments would be set so tight that it wasn’t uncommon for it them to cause fainting o,r, in extreme cases, broken ribs.

BuzzFeed Video

Toward the end of the century, corsets began to metamorphose from plain white to an array of colors. They also started to adopt an S-curve shape to emphasize the hourglass figure.


The oh-so-sexy slip came into fashion in the 1920s as a symbol of the freedom from the flappers.

BuzzFeed Video

During this time, fluidity of movement and a boyish figure were in style. Women ditched the corset and bloomers of the 1800s and began to wear slips or step-ins. Some flappers left stockings rolled up just above the knee because girdles were no longer deemed essential. Others would go as far as using strips of cloth to pin down their breasts for a more stylish and slim figure.

During this time, shorter and more modern-looking underwear also began being sold in retail stores. And it was DEFINITELY more comfortable than what ladies were rocking in the 16th and 17th centuries.

BuzzFeed Video

The 1930s post-war era developed a new look of lingerie that was even more decorative and feminine than before. Technological advances bolstered this new array of lingerie with new fabrics such as elastic.

In the 1950s, corselets were in style. A corselet incorporated the use of underwire to support the breasts and give the girls a lift. This style was typically worn under eveningwear.

BuzzFeed Video

Christian Dior pioneered an accentuated style of femininity that reached its peak in the 1950s with a small waistline and a pointed bust that defined the ideal mid-century look.


In the 1980s, ladies starting rocking teddies — one-piece garments derived from earlier 20th-century undergarment styles.

BuzzFeed Video

At this time celebrities began a trend of wearing classic '50s lingerie as outerwear, such as the famous cone bra John Paul Gaultier created for Madonna’s Blonde Ambition Tour.

In the '80s, thongs were also incorporated into American fashion. They arose as a trend from South America and quickly gained popularity stateside.

BuzzFeed Video

Thongs also inspired the cultural phenomenon of the Brazilian wax. In the 1980s, Brazilian Janea Padilha, who co-owned a Manhattan salon with her sisters, saw a woman whose pubic hair while she was wearing a bikini thong showing and found the perfect pube solution.

Today's lingerie varies greatly in color, style, shape, and coverage. But one thing is for sure, regardless of the time period: Women though history slayed lingerie.


Every. Tasty. Video. EVER. The new Tasty app is here!