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History of Lingerie

Lingerie, a word that evokes images of delicate fabrics, intricate lace, and a touch of allure. But the story of lingerie is more than just sensuality; it's a tale of evolution, culture, and empowerment. From ancient loincloths in Egypt to the intricately designed corsets of the Renaissance, undergarments have played a pivotal role in shaping fashion and reflecting societal norms. 

As we delve into these chapters of history, we'll uncover the fascinating journey that intimate lingerie has undertaken, weaving through eras, continents, and trends, ultimately culminating in the modern luxury that adorns women today. Join us on this captivating journey through time and intimate apparel.

Ancient Undergarments: From Loincloths to Tunics

The origins of lingerie can be traced back to ancient civilizations, where practicality and modesty were paramount. In Egypt, linen loincloths were the foundation of early undergarments, offering a simple yet functional solution. As we move forward in time, ancient Greeks innovatively introduced an extra layer of fabric, a rudimentary precursor to what we now recognize as a bra. This early form of support laid the groundwork for the evolution of undergarments.1

In the Roman era, the strophium emerged, a garment resembling a modern-day bandeau bra, reflecting the continued ingenuity in undergarment design. These ancient undergarments were not merely functional; they were a testament to the resourcefulness and creativity of early civilizations.

Medieval Era: Shifts in Undergarment Styles

As the world transitioned into the Middle Ages, undergarments underwent significant transformations. The chemise, a loose-fitting and versatile garment, took center stage. It served as a foundational piece, worn beneath outer layers to provide both comfort and a degree of modesty. Fashion scholars today delve deep into the intricate details of how medieval women adorned themselves, offering a window into the societal norms and ideals that shaped their attire.2

From the cut of the fabric to the choice of embellishments, each aspect of their undergarments conveyed a message about status, identity, and cultural values. In a modern reflection of this tradition, Gooseberry Intimates presents their line of silk slip dresses, seamlessly blending the luxury and simplicity of historical undergarments with contemporary style and sophistication.

Renaissance and Corsets: Shaping Fashion and Silhouettes

The Renaissance era brought forth a revolutionary garment: the corset. It was not merely a piece of clothing, but a tool that sculpted and defined the female form, becoming an emblem of status and beauty. Corsets evolved from functional support to extravagant works of art, meticulously crafted with lavish lacework and intricate embroidery. 

They were more than undergarments; they were statements of opulence and refinement. During this era, the fashion industry began to understand the profound influence undergarments could exert on outerwear, setting the stage for a new era of sartorial expression.

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18th and 19th Centuries: From Panniers to Bloomers

In the 18th century, fashion took a dramatic turn with the introduction of panniers. These wide hoops, worn beneath skirts, created a strikingly exaggerated silhouette that was the epitome of opulence and extravagance. Meanwhile, as the 19th century dawned, practicality began to take precedence. Enter the bloomers, named after the forward-thinking Amelia Bloomer

These innovative undergarments defied conventions, allowing women greater freedom of movement and revolutionizing the way they navigated the world. The transition from ostentatious panniers to liberating bloomers marked a pivotal shift in both fashion and women's empowerment. In a similar spirit of comfort and liberation, Gooseberry Intimates offers modern lingerie shorts, designed to blend elegance with ease and freedom, continuing the evolution of women's undergarments into the present day.

Victorian Era: Restrictive Elegance and Modesty

The Victorian era, characterized by its stringent moral values, witnessed the prominence of the crinoline. This ingeniously designed cage-like structure provided essential support for layers of fabric, creating an iconic, demure hourglass figure. It was a testament to the art of restraint, exemplifying both elegance and modesty. 

Simultaneously, the corset, now synonymous with Victorian women, played a central role in shaping fashion. Worn with a mixture of pride and controversy, it became a symbol of femininity, illustrating the complex interplay between societal expectations and personal expression during this era.3

20th Century: Liberation and Innovation

The dawn of the 20th century heralded an era of liberation for women. The revolutionary invention of the bra brought about a seismic shift in comfort and support. No longer confined by the constraints of corsets, women embraced a newfound freedom in their choice of undergarments. Silk and lace lingerie emerged as dominant lingerie trends, adding a touch of luxury to everyday wear.

The events of World War I catalyzed further innovations in undergarments. Women's roles in society evolved, demanding practicality and adaptability in their clothing. This period witnessed a transformative revolution in lingerie design and production.

History of Lingerie

Contemporary Lingerie: Trends, Materials, and Industry

In the present day, the world of lingerie stands as a thriving industry, dynamically adapting to the ever-changing preferences and needs of modern women.4 At the forefront of this evolution are luxury lingerie brands like Gooseberry Intimates, setting the standard for elegance and sensuality. Their creations seamlessly meld daring design elements with fabrics that caress the skin in the gentlest embrace. 

The range of materials employed in contemporary lingerie has never been more diverse, spanning from the silky smoothness of satin to the intricate allure of lace. This rich array of textures and styles caters to an expansive spectrum of tastes and preferences, ensuring that every woman can find a piece that resonates with her unique sense of self.

The Impact of Lingerie on Fashion and Body Image

Lingerie has left an indelible mark on fashion and body image. From the iconic cone bra of the 1950s to the body-positive movements of today, undergarments continue to shape and reflect societal ideals. Here are some ways lingerie has impacted fashion and body image:

#1 Setting Trends Through Iconic Styles

Lingerie has been a trailblazer in setting fashion trends, evident in iconic pieces like the 1950s cone bra famously worn by Madonna. Another trendsetting example is the bra and blazer look, which combines the allure of lingerie with the sophistication of tailored outerwear. These daring designs have pushed boundaries, influencing outerwear and redefining perceptions of femininity.

#2 Empowering Body Positivity

In recent times, lingerie has played a pivotal role in the body positivity movement. Brands now celebrate diverse body types, offering inclusive sizing and promoting self-love. This shift in representation is redefining beauty standards and fostering a more inclusive environment for women.

#3 Elevating Confidence and Self-Expression

The modern bra has evolved beyond functionality, becoming a statement piece that empowers women to express their individuality. Whether through intricate lace or bold colors, lingerie allows for a personal style statement that boosts confidence and self-assuredness. Gooseberry Intimates exemplifies this versatility, offering everything from glam lingerie to cotton lingerie, catering to a range of preferences and occasions while maintaining their signature blend of comfort and chic style.

#4 Fostering Comfort and Functionality

The advancement of lingerie technology has led to innovations in comfort and functionality. Modern bras now come in a variety of styles, each tailored to different needs  from sports bras for active lifestyles to wireless bra options for all-day comfort. This evolution ensures that women can feel at ease in their own skin, no matter the occasion.

#5 Championing Women's Health and Wellness

Lingerie's impact extends beyond aesthetics, prioritizing women's health. Properly fitted bras provide essential support, reducing back pain and promoting healthy posture. Additionally, the choice of breathable, high-quality fabrics contributes to overall well-being, ensuring comfort and hygiene in intimate wear.

History of Lingerie

Lingerie Today and Its Continuing Evolution

As we reflect on the brief history of lingerie, it's clear that this intimate apparel has come a long way. From ancient Egypt to the runways of New York, lingerie has transcended mere function to become a symbol of self-expression and empowerment. So why not treat yourself or a loved one to the luxury of lingerie with a Gooseberry Intimates piece?

In this ever-evolving world of fashion, one thing remains constant: the enduring significance of lingerie in contemporary style and self-assuredness.


  1. Friedman, Angela. “A (Brief) History of Lingerie.” Angela Friedman, Angela Friedman, 12 May 2023, Accessed 14 Nov. 2023.
  2. “Exposed: A History of Lingerie | Fashion Institute of Technology.”, 2021, Accessed 14 Nov. 2023.
  3. ‌Lindig, Sarah. “The Evolution of Lingerie.” ELLE, ELLE, 20 July 2016, Accessed 14 Nov. 2023.
  4. “Where’s That Sexy History under There? | Origins.” Origins, 2014, Accessed 14 Nov. 2023.

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