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The History of Underwear

Table of Contents

We’ve been wearing traditional undergarment and even the latest seamless underwear for so long, but do you know the evolutionary history of underwear?

The development of everything is traceable. Let’s take a look at the history of men’s and women’s underwear and maybe, it’ll give you some inspiration. If you can identify the next trend in the lingerie industry and make it your business, that’s awesome! Hah!

In ancient times, people wore underwear mainly to avoid the cold. Gradually, they found that underwear can also be used to hide the body to hide shame, change shape and highlight the figure.

Let’s talk about the history of underwear:

1) Early ancient times underwear

As early as ancient China, the earliest linen with a density of 10/ cm was spun. But then the underwear is no big different with the coat, just for the original cover body and warm use.

3,900 years ago, as the technology advances, linen fabric has reached 24/ cm. With Lei Zu’s silk technology spread, underwear significantly various from the outerwear function, called Covered Tummy, Tube Top and so on.

Early ancient times underwear - The History of Underwear - Custom Fitness Apparel Manufacturer

From the “Barrette women” in the chiffon low-cut embroidered shirt, we saw the Tang Dynasty woman’s “Xie Yi”; and “West chamber” in the Song Dynasty female, then twisted around the belly covered, a young band around neck, a ring in the chest, cover thousands of style, ten thousand charming.

But after all, China is still a conservative country, till the end of the Qing Dynasty with foreign yarn into China, Western bodice truly deducted in the Chinese female’s physique above.

2) Ancient Rome period underwear

In 100AD, several of the earliest expertise of underwear stems from old Rome. Ladies wore a “subligaculum”, which is essentially a glorified adult diaper.

Females also wore a band of textile called strontium to cover their chests and to bind their breasts, because big breasts were thought about unsightly – that’s in full opposition to our contemporary standards of charm.

the history of underwear

3) 14th century underwear

Around this century, when females’ clothes began obtaining tighter, so did the underwear. We see the camisole sleeves getting even more equipped and also were being constructed of often-transparent as well as slim materials.

Additionally, during the medieval period, we see the introduction of corsetry as well as the bustle. The bustle was an understructure situated at the reduced back used to create volume, highlight the behind, and maintain dresses from dragging out the ground.

The most primitive bustles were made by stitching fox tails right into their skirts. Now, women are putting on a slip and also a bodice – still not real underwear!

4) 16th to 17th century undergarments

In between the late 1400s and also 1600s chemises developed to be much more decorated at the neck as well as sleeves. This is because reduced square necks as well as reduced sleeves started obtaining appeal and often revealed the camisole listed below.

During this period see the development of hoop skirts, farthingale, which was a hooped waistcoat. For the ballers on a budget plan, the more affordable version of this was called a bottom roll – a crescent-shaped pad that imitated the impact of a hoopskirt, bum roll, crinoline as well as a bustle.

Here’s the modern bum roll, actually was underwear with butt pads. Females were wearing a corset, slip as well as hoop skirt.

Women ultimately begin using a version in the history of underwear. Italian ladies of the early 1600s began using silk or bed linen breeches, or drawers, under their dress – it was a slit short design with hip connections.

Corset also originated in the early Roman period. In the 16th century, there are iron, timber corset. Up until the Crusades, from the 16th century, with making use of textile modern technology advancement, females put on corsets made with whalebone, steel, and rattan.

history of underwear 16th to 17th century undergarments - The History of Underwear - Custom Fitness Apparel Manufacturer


In the 1630s, when the fashion weapons are garter, tights, as well as panniers, noticeable to the attention of Westerners on the underwear. The understanding of its function is not just cozy for the sanctuary, and a lot more intent is to shape the body curve.

Underwear is also created to be really made complex, using underwear, it may take a couple of hours’ time. To the imperial federal government period (1804-1825), the corset has actually become simplified.

The history of underwear slip petticoat - The History of Underwear - Custom Fitness Apparel Manufacturer
Slip petticoat
garter - The History of Underwear - Custom Fitness Apparel Manufacturer

5) 19th century underwear

Basel duration (1870-1890), underwear made a lot more sophisticated, lace, silk, chiffon full usage, but the underwear body sculpting requirements have been gradually watered down since of individuals found in the bodice of the latitude of the steel cable on the body’s respiratory system dangerous.

With the flexible textile in the apparel in a wide range of applications, underwear becomes a lot more simple and comfy to put on.

A lot of Europe had actually adopted the short underwear style and also in the 1800’s we see hoop skirts at their most significant. The hoop began as an inverted v after that became the perfect dome shape and afterward vacated to the hips. It was during this time that the shimmy started to befall of style, or split right into 2 pieces – the corset and also the cabinets.

Corsets throughout this century ended up being longer as well as covered from bust to hip. Then four types of the new items were found in the history of underwear.

Firstly, Conjoined filar socks were born.

You can think of this kind of tights as a see-through version of Spiderman-type, which shows the graceful curves of a woman’s body, but makes it impossible to go to the bathroom.

Conjoined filar socks history of underwear - The History of Underwear - Custom Fitness Apparel Manufacturer
Conjoined filar socks

There is no exact record of when it was designed, but it first appeared in 1861, when American actress Adah Isaacs Menken wore a nude tights to give the illusion of nudity. These days, they’re basically considered sexy lingerie.

Adah Isaacs Menken history of underwear - The History of Underwear - Custom Fitness Apparel Manufacturer
Adah Isaacs Menken

Secondly, shaping corset.

Shaping corset can be said to be the prototype of modern slim beauty, its meaning of existence is shaping. The earliest corsets were made of cloth or leather with hard strips in the middle. This corset was popular in the 19th century and was worn by both men and women for long periods of time to preserve their bodies. It plays as an important rule in the history of underwear.

shaping corset history of underwear - The History of Underwear - Custom Fitness Apparel Manufacturer
Shaping Corset

However, many doctors condemned the underwear at the time for its unhealthy effect on body shape by binding it externally. Modern corset shaping has improved so much that it has little effect on the human body thanks to various technologies.

Thirdly, French maid dress.

I don’t know what happened in the middle, French maid dress has become one of the most popular sexy underwear nowadays, and various shy pieces often appear in it.

french maid dress - The History of Underwear - Custom Fitness Apparel Manufacturer
French Maid Dress

Fourthly, corselet in Victorian era.

The Victorian corset was called Basque, a term originally drawn from France. It was an undergarment of delicate construction with a halter that could wrap around the body. By the Victorian era, the Basque was referring to a corset.

Basque can help a woman beautify the waist line above the buttocks. In addition, it has exquisite decoration in the history of underwear, has been thriving in the western fashion industry, and is now a model for many brands to learn from.

basque - The History of Underwear - Custom Fitness Apparel Manufacturer
Corselet in Victorian era (Basque)

6) Early 20th century underwear

Suspenders panties underwear is still common now, a lot of people wear alone at home. Suspenders panties type undergarments first appeared in the 1910s, when it was called women’s straight sleeveless underwear, until it became popular in the 1940s.

This is very functional item in the underwear history. It has both vest and shorts function, very practical. At the same time, its workmanship is very delicate; its design, material selection is more and richer, by a lot of women’s favorite.

Suspenders panties underwear - The History of Underwear - Custom Fitness Apparel Manufacturer
Suspenders Panties Underwear

7) From the 1940s to the 1990s undergarments

There are three types of underwear in this period.

Firstly, babydoll sleepwear.

Babydoll sleepwear (pajamas) first appeared during World WarⅡ.Designer Sylvia Pedlar created the sleepwear in response to a shortage of fabric. Its biggest characteristic is sleeveless, loose, usually made of nylon, chiffon, silk and other translucent materials. It started with puffy bottoms until the 1970s, when they were replaced by more fitted briefs.

Babydoll underwear has short hemlines that expose a woman’s thighs. Some styles even showed half of their breasts on purpose and were later used as sexy lingerie.

babydoll sleepwear - The History of Underwear - Custom Fitness Apparel Manufacturer
Babydoll Sleepwear

Now, in addition to underwear, doll designs have evolved into casual clothes for cute girls. Its English name is babydoll, but designer Sylvia Pedlar herself doesn’t like this name.

Secondly, tight sets.

The tight sets are a bit like garters. But the garter belt is worn below the waist and the tights extend from the waist to the thigh. The main purpose of this product is to shape a woman’s waist. It was a must for women from the 1920s to the late 1960s.

In 1947, Christian Dior’s “New Look” collection featured even the most crucial elements of a tight fit.

Tight Sets - The History of Underwear - Custom Fitness Apparel Manufacturer
Tight Sets

Thirdly, Bikini.

Bikini is the underwear that everybody is familiar with most, also called 3 Point Type. The origin of its name is interesting. In 1946, an atomic bomb exploded on Bikini Island in the Pacific Ocean.

18 days later, Frenchman Louis Reard introduced the Three-point Swimsuit, which took Europe by storm in less than a week. It was thought to have had a nuclear impact, so it was called the Bikini.

Louis Reard - The History of Underwear - Custom Fitness Apparel Manufacturer
Louis Reard
7 bikini - The History of Underwear - Custom Fitness Apparel Manufacturer

The bikini is the smallest swimwear in the world. It consists of two main parts, the top half of which is a bra that covers the breasts, and the bottom half of which is shorts that cover the groin and buttocks of the lower body.

7 bikinm - The History of Underwear - Custom Fitness Apparel Manufacturer

In 1997, U.S. volleyball player Gabrielle Reece promoted her sports career by wearing a bikini. Her volleyball team participated in the first World Beach Volleyball Championship, and the women competed in bikinis for the first time. So, bikini then became a kind of fitness apparel.

volleyball player Gabrielle Reece - The History of Underwear - Custom Fitness Apparel Manufacturer
Volleyball player Gabrielle Reece

8) “Second skin” era.

With the continuous update of underwear fabric, people are more and more in pursuit of new technology products, pure cotton goods have no longer become people’s needs.

Known worldwide as “Second skins”, Microfibre has reinvented itself in the history of underwear. In 1997, Dupont introduced Lycrasoft, a revolutionary, high-quality, ultra-elastic fiber that allows underwear to stretch as well as cling to the body.

8 2 2 - The History of Underwear - Custom Fitness Apparel Manufacturer
21 Century Sports Bra

The 21st century to now, modern people not only attach importance to the sense of temptation brought by underwear, but also attach more importance to its health, shaping function!

8 1 2 - The History of Underwear - Custom Fitness Apparel Manufacturer
21 Century Panties

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Picture of About Author/ Writer Team
About Author/ Writer Team

An Expert with 23 years' experience in the production of fitness clothing, focusing on providing customers with simple, easy-to-use and high-quality production solutions with reasonable cost. Devote to the feasibility study of the production of all kinds of activewear & seamless clothing, and explore the adaptability of all kinds of functional fabrics and clothing styles.


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