From the Loincloth to Lingerie – The Evolution of Underwear

Quick! What’s the closest thing to you right now? No, it isn’t your phone or wallet. It’s your skivvies! What you wear underneath your clothes is something you probably don’t pay much mind to on a day-to-day basis, but you’d be surprised to learn how many different forms your undergarments have taken over the years.

We’ve compiled a fun brief  (get it?) history chronicling the evolution of vintage undergarments, and of course, we’ve included a sexy slideshow — you know, for educational reasons.

The first known undies date back to almost 7,000 years. Loincloths were used primarily by men but women have also been said to sport them back in the cave days. The fabric was made of leather, cloth or even tree bark. Ouch!

One of the earlier vanity undergarments for women was the corset, which reached its height of popularity during the Victorian Era. These constricting waist cinchers- known to be enforced with whale bones – slimmed the torso, emphasized the bust, and probably hurt like hell! The constrictive nature of the corset led to the coveted 20-inch waist as well as stories of broken ribs and damaged organs. Not a pretty picture.

Push-up bras are a girl’s best friend. Although they’ve been around since 1893, they didn’t become popular until the 1940s, when undergarment maker Maidenform carried out a successful “I Dreamed” ad campaign in which models were pictured in everyday or fantastic situations, elaborately costumed but wearing only a Maidenform bra up top.

Feeding off the feminist movement of the 1960s and ‘70s, Fredericks of Hollywood helped to popularize lingerie -the sexier, some would say raunchier, form of women’s underwear we are familiar with today.

Madonna started the trend of wearing undergarments as outerwear in the 1980s and soon many young women followed by showing off their lacy bras as well.

In the same decade, the thong was introduced to minimize the annoying problem of panty lines. Since then, the modest boy-shorts have become popular among the ladies as well, because many believe the latter to be more comfortable to wear.

Check out our slide show of examples, above!

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