A 'brief' history of bras, undergarments and underwear over the past 200 years...
...the history of bras, undergarments and underwear, as we know it, began to evolve during the mid 18th century. Although the origin of the fig leaf, camisole and vest lies further back in the past. In our brief history of bras, undergarments and underwear we will be focusing on the origin and history of ladies' undergarments and underwear as it evolved through the 18th and 19th centuries.
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Corset, crinoline and bustle are terms which most affected women's lifestyles between 1810 and 1870. A woman's body in the Biedermeier period (1815-1848), had to look dainty and fragile. By 1828 laced corsets had been replaced by the 'mechanical' corsets, displayed at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1823. These so called 'mechanical' corsets were manufactured with hammered-in metal eyelets and had an arrangement of small pulleys that enabled women to lace up their own corsets unassisted.
The crinoline, from the French word 'crin' meaning horsehair, was worn underneath outer garments and with the help of whalebone and steel rods were used to support the heavy floor-length ladies' dresses of the time.
The crinoline craze reached its peak during the late 1850's and early 1860 saw the silhouette of the crinoline change. Rather than being bell-shaped it was designed to provide a flatter front area and projected out more behind giving an overall exaggerated shape to a woman's profile. This new exaggerated shape was thought by many to be particularly erotic.
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