Interesting History of Women's Underwear

Have you ever wondered how women's underwear came to be? Aren’t you a bit curious about what undergarments women wore centuries ago?

The history of wearing undergarments for women is quite interesting. It started from wearing nothing underneath to tying a loin-cloth (popular in Imperial Rome and ancient Egypt) under outer garments. By the Middle Ages, women underwear was mainly a long loose garment called a shift, but no pants were worn under these.

It is believed that women did not wear underpants or what we know as drawers until the late 18th century.

Not much is known about earlier bust supports. There are however finding that as early as the 14th to 15th century, 'breast bags' evolved, quite crude at the time - two cloth bags sewed into shirts and tightened with a band.

By the 16th century, some women began to wear open drawers tied to the waist with strings. Wireframes made with whalebone called a farthingale, became an item of clothing that served as an undergarment. These were worn majorly by upper-class elite women who had broken the barrier of social standards.

And for something to hold the bosom firmly in place, they wore a wide band of linen fabric around their chest called a strophium, the Roman equivalent of a brassiere.

It wasn’t until the early 18th century that women's underwear became an item of clothing with some importance attached to it. It was at this time that the shift transited into a chemise and drawers soon transited into pantaloons.

Pantaloons were ankle or knee-length drawers that covered the legs from waist to ankle and sometimes below the knee and were enhanced with frills or pleats. By the late 19th century, they were made to look pretty by adding waistbands, ribbon tapes, and lace.


Image source on Flickr by zalikopanjikidze

It’s interesting to know that in the 19th-century women's underwear was usually open between the legs, but by the 1900’s closed ones replaced them.

From long pantaloons to shorter knickers, in the 20’s they became shorter and shorter . . . down to mid-thigh.

By the forties and fifties, women began to wear briefs. Soon the word ‘drawers’ became known as underpants or pants. In the USA they were (and still are) called panties; obviously a diminutive of the word pants.

And in the 1900’s, other items of underwear or lingerie emerged – first rayon then nylon stockings, the modern bra, briefs, wonder bra, and the thong, which was invented in the 70’s.

Though many variations have evolved, thongs continue to be highly popular underwear until this day.

Further Reading:
Vintage Inspired Lingerie for Plus Size Brides
Authentic Vintage Lingerie - Wash and Care Tips

Dress like a Princess in Quinceanera Fashion

According to Latin tradition of Quinceanera, as soon as a girl is fifteen, she is ready to get married and has indeed transited into womanhood. In other words, she has come of age.

By her fifteenth birthday (today's coming of age is celebrated at 16), a girl has been fully prepared for marriage. She would has been tutored on how to take care of a husband and a home . . . cook, clean, weave, etc., including all she needs to know about birthing and child rearing.  

With claims of its origin dating back to the Aztecs, today’s Quinceanera is a great day of celebrations for the birthday girl. She is fashionably dressed in a formal elegant gown and adorned with beautiful jewelry and a tiara, looking just like a ‘fairy-tale princess’.

There are a number of important customs that need to be observed during Quinceanera celebration, but one of the most popular ones is called the Changing of the Shoes where the celebrant’s father ceremoniously changes the young lady’s flat shoes to high heeled shoes . . . such a beautiful way to signify her transformation from a little girl to a young woman isn’t it? 

Quinceanera Fashion

Quinceanera is more than a big celebration; it is a young lady’s moment and her “passage not just into womanhood, but into a beautiful tradition of faith, independence and grace.”

Quinceanera fashion is classic. Tradition calls for elegant and opulent attires with womanly but modest bodices with full, layered and swirling skirts that practically sway and sweep the floor. 

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Most designs spare no detail, offering intricate embroidery, ornate beadwork, and other embellishments like feathers, applique, Swarovski crystals, and ruffles. The popular choice of fabrics is chiffon, organza, taffeta, lace, and tulle with colours ranging from white and soft, blushing pink, to magenta and scorching teal.

Wouldn’t that just make any girl sparkle and shine on this important day, one of the most lavish and meaningful events in her life?

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Women T-Shirts Printed with Vintage Illustrations

It's time to be a bit more casual here on this couture fashion blog. Yes, it’s quite nice to get all dolled up now and then, especially when we have a special event to attend, like a wedding occasion, a red carpet event, dinner, or a party at the Ritz.

To attend any of these demands we get all dressed up looking stylish and sophisticated. But how often do we need to dress up this way?

Not many times, compared to when we need to dress-down.

Most of the time we spend with clothes on, we are in our casuals . . . shopping at the mall, visiting, hanging out with friends, picking up the kids from school, going to the movies, a picnic, a visit to the beach . . . you get what I mean.

These are the times we need our casuals. However, there are casuals and there are CASUALS

T-shirts – Dress Up or Dress Down

As we all know, t-shirts can be dressed up or down. For those of us who love the casual style, street-style, or a bohemian kind of look, we have a good number of tees in our wardrobes. Most of us wear a t-shirt every single day and have many that we truly treasure.

Most of the time, jeans are worn with a t-shirt; that not only applies to men, but to women, kids AND babies too, so depending on who is wearing it and what is paired with it, tees can serve as casual, semi-casual, or dressy tops.

Vintage Inspired T-Shirts for Women

Vintage inspired clothing is trending but then doesn’t it always? Isn’t fashion and style in its true sense cyclic?

Granted, t-shirts came into ‘being’ at the end of the 19th century and there is not much history to back it up as traditional per se, but they finally achieved the status of being a fashionable item of clothing and a stand-alone outerwear garment by the mid-20th century.

If you seek a traditional/classic look t-shirt, you want one with a 'vintage twist' and what best way to achieve this by seeking quality tees with vintage inspired quotes, images, or photographs. The list should give ideas of what was worn when, in-case you’ll prefer to have a particular era’s tee.

1939/40’s - Early examples of tees with printed logos/decoration can be found in the movie The Wizard of Oz.” It had the word "OZ" printed on its front.

1950’s - Some businesses started to decorate t-shirts with holiday resort names and characters.

1960’s – The time of the highly popular Ringer t-shirt, a then trendy fashion for the young rock-n-rollers. It was in the sixties that ‘tie & dye’ and screen printing on tees evolved, making the t-shirt became a “medium for wearable art, commercial advertising, souvenir messages, and protest messages”.

1970’s – Popular characters such as Walt Disney characters began to appear with Mickey Mouse being one of the top choices of t-shirt lovers. Notable and memorable t-shirts produced during this decade have become entrenched in pop culture. They include the Rolling Stones band tees, and Milton Glaser's iconic "I ♥ N Y” design

1980’s – By the mid-eighties white tees became fashionable, especially after Don Johnson wore it with an Armani suit in the movie Miami Vice.

1990’s – It became common practice for companies to make them promotional items with their corporate logos or messages as a part of their advertising campaigns. Also at this time, tee shirts with prominent designer-name logos become popular with teenagers and young adults. Names that come to mind include FUBU, The gap, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren,

2010 – By the beginning of this century, there was renewed popularity of tee shirts. They come with quotes, slogans, and designs that tend towards the humorous, spiritual, and satirical.

Today, the t-shirt is one of the most important items of clothing for most people all over the world, most especially because the tee trend is being embraced by celebrities; now, everyone wants at least half a dozen of great looking tees in their wardrobe.