Boudoir Outfits

The History of Lingerie

Lingerie has been around for a looooong time. Too bad boudoir photography wasn’t around long enough to capture it all. Lingerie really didn’t start to become something “sexy” until decades after its inception. Glad we’re not in the 1800s anymore!

1700s – Whalebone Corsets

whalebone corset ad

If you were a “proper” woman, then you had a whalebone corset. And these weren’t the lacy, sexy corsets I love having at a boudoir shoot. These were tight, organ-crushing corsets that gave women the appearance of a tiny waist and large breasts.

1800s – Corsets


Lingerie started to get a little more pretty in the 1800s, but it was still uncomfortable and constricting. Corsets were intricate and carefully made. These corsets pushed the boobs out and the back in, which made hips look big and beautiful.

1910s – Closed Crotch Drawers


Pre-Victorian women wore open crotch underwear. Yup! But they weren’t doing it to be sexual. At the time, only men wore closed crotch underwear, so women weren’t allowed to. However, in the 1910s, lacy drawers became popular for women. Your boudoir wasn’t fabulous unless you had a pair of lacy, closed crotch drawers.

1920s – Slips


Tubular dresses were in fashion during the 1920s, which meant silhouettes didn’t need to be exaggerated. Without a defined silhouette, women didn’t need to wear corsets anymore (and I’m sure they were grateful for that). Slips became the popular lingerie choice under straight dresses. They needed to be invisible under clothing, so they were often slinky and made of satin.

1930s – Open Crotch Drawers

Just when you thought your lady bits were safe, the open crotch drawers are back! This time, they we’re a little more sexy, and women wore them to signify sexual availability and erotic desire. The 20s and 30s was a time when women started to get in touch with their sexuality and female prowess.

1950s – The New Look


Christian Dior launch the “New Look” collection in 1947. The new silhouette was all about a full busts, small waists and full skirts. The hourglass was in. Bras had an underwire and pushed up breasts and everybody had a petticoat.

1950s – The Start of Pinup


Lingerie was no longer meant to be hidden. Pin ups used in advertising became popular, and these models thrust out their hips and breasts. If you were buying the lingerie that these models were wearing, you wanted to show it off! Some women protested the idea of pin-ups, while others argued that pin-up was a “positive post-Victorian rejection of bodily shame and a healthy respect for female beauty.”

1977 – Victoria’s Secret Opens

victoria's secret ad

In San Francisco., Roy and Gaye Raymond opened the first Victoria’s Secret. Before this store, women bought two types of underwear – practical underwear from department stores and special underwear at specialty stores for events like the honeymoon. Victoria’s Secret was the first store to make sexy lingerie an everyday item.

1980s – Teddies


Teddies were the item to sleep in during the 1980s, and it’s definitely one of the sexiest items for a boudoir shoot. Delicate, sexy, lacy underwear also came back into vogue.

1990s – The Thong


During the 80s, thongs were becoming popular in South America. A decade late in the 1990s, the style became popular in North America. Originally meant to be a design for a swimsuit, the thong is now popular with women who want to wear tight pants or dresses. Hooray for no panty line!

Although it took a long time to get here, today’s lingerie compliments the modern woman and keeps her comfortable. 21st century lingerie now comes in a variety of styles and fabric that stem from our history’s past. The modern women wants comfort, support and sexiness all wrapped into one.

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