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Alabama the making and the history
03 March 2021

The history of underwear


I'm going to be addressing my favorite topic which is  the history of underwear. And I know that everyone has a lot of conceptions about what people used to wear. This is one of my favorite ads here on the near side Maidenform ad from the early 90s that says Isn't it nice to live at a time when women are being pushed around so much anymore. And of course, we all have that image of Scarlett O'Hara in the 1939 film Gone With the Wind holding onto the bed post as Lee She's laced. to her corset my Mammy, but what I want to do today is to look at both the Fashions themselves and the under Fashions and see how the changing ideal of the female body has really affected what we think of as beautiful as natural as normal and really as you can see in these two Goyo paintings of the closed and nude Maja from about 1800 clothes and underclothes really imprint themselves on the body even when they're not warned so our idea A of what the ideal female body should look at has changed dramatically over time. of course, the female body can be interpreted in a lot of different ways that you can see that in these two prehistoric figures on the near side the Venus of Willendorf from 15,000 to 10,000 BC fetish figure that accentuates all of the fecundity of the female figure and on the far side the socratic Idol that makes it the female figure much more angular and has a very different look and then we'll see this happening over and over again and certainly the female figure has a lot of fleshy parts that Be pushed around and emphasized at different times the cretan snake goddess on the near side from about 1500 BC really of course emphasizes the bus line something that distinguishes the feminine torso from that of the male and one of the rear depictions we have in the early years of what women might have worn under there generally flowing robes. Is this a Roman depiction from the third or fourth Century ad from The Piazza armerina? Any of women exercising wearing some kind of band to support the bus line and what looks remarkably similar to bikini Underpants today but skipping over about a thousand years since I do only have an hour here or we're going to start in the medieval period when you can see that the the ideal of the female figure is very different than our conception. The ideal figure is shown here in this depiction of from about 75 by Hugo Van Der goes on the near side with a very small bus line and a rounded curvaceous stomach emphasizing again a female fecundity and this has an influence on what was worn over the figure. Of course the marriage of arnolfini on the far side from earlier in the 15th century where the everything is done to help give that woman her the ideal of the time. She's really standing leaning back her very very long skirt here. That's furlong. Wind is too long. So she's holding it up over her stomach. Everything is done to help her attain that posture. And so what we're going to look at tonight is really different ways that that women have tried to achieve the ideal. Now already by this time men and women wore layer of undergarments next to the skin whose main purpose was to absorb bodily perspiration and soils and protect the outer clothes from the from the body itself. Now I'm not going to use the pointer. But if you look closely at the image on the near side, which is a detail from the tray reassured the Duke De Berry from the early 15th century. You can see that neither the man nor the woman has And and the background there has any kind of Underpants or drawers on they both have long? Linen garments on that protect their clothes again and they are this garment was universally worn by all classes with much heavier and rougher for the poor peasants such as are depicted here. Whereas on the far side in Botticelli's depiction. You can see what the upper classes could afford this incredibly fine linen. That's really transparent these although there are the 3 Graces by Botticelli. They are wearing real garments and this woman here has the caller Of her garment just draped over one shoulder making it look a bit more idealized. But you can see the finest of the linen. That would be a real status symbol if you could afford to buy it. By the time we get to the 16th century their clothes are really making a statement about social status. And that was one of their primary functions those few people who could afford to wear the elaborate Fashions of the time wanted to make clear their Elite status. Very clear here is Elizabeth the First of England depicted by great in 1592. Everything about her is grandiose and indeed. She's standing on England. She's really bigger than the entire. Our country showing her power and her influence, but all of her clothes go to show off the incredibly expensive fabric that she's wearing.

Her skirt is supported by a farthingale that helps hold it out. There's an extra fold of fabric here. That's Luke back over and pinned in place to make this skirt as big as possible her sleeves are large he has hanging sleeves as well. So all this incredibly expensive material really showing her status and power and you'll notice too that the Inception of the female torso is very distinct at this period and remains this way for quite a period of time. It's like an ice cream cone shape a conical form very different from our conception of the female torso. This is one of the rare survivals, of course it from that period that gives you that ice cream cone like shape with that very long point. Now I hasten to add that although you may see this in books published as if this was what was being worn Scholars. Are sure that this was indeed a medical device that was used by women who had curvature of the spine or are some other disease so this would not have been what was typically worn which would have been made of linen and stiffened with Reed's or something like that. But what this does do is give us the shape. That was the ideal. It also has little holes around the top here and around the back so it would have been lined with a leather lining. So it's not quite the torture chamber. It looks like but you can see there's no lift and Separate going on here at all. The bus line is very flattened. And it has this incredibly Long Point and it's about the taper down to the waist that then sets off this very very full skirt the corset or stays as they were called at. This time was always worn over an undergarment again to protect it and the outer layers of clothes Rembrandt depicts it in 1654 here on this woman bathing in a stream. It's a very loose garment that is shaped then by the outer And undergarments that are over it. So it is really made of the fabric as it comes off the Loon Loom of linen because linen was washable and that was an important function. This is a hundred and fifty years later, but the same garment still made in the same way with the fabric straight off the loom here up over the shoulders and then these triangular pieces or Gore's adding fullness at the Hem and little triangular pieces under the sleeve. So no fabric was wasted and this was the basic garment that women were forced. Centuries and centuries and of course having these cleaned was again a status symbol. This is a detail from a depiction of a laundry in Flanders in about 16:21 showing all of these garments both households. Linens and also you can see some t-shaped garments that are men's shirts or women's smocks or shifts spread on the lawn having your clothes cleaned was a great expense and a great deal of trouble. So if you could pay to have them done, it was really showing your status. They were laid on the lawn because the action of the sunlight and the chlorophyll from the grass actually works as a natural bleaching agent. So that was one way to get things very white and then if you could afford to you had them starched and I earned by someone else so that this beautiful crisp white linen was really something that showed everyone you could pay to have this done. But what we don't have at all in these periods is any form of drawers or Underpants for women women wore the Smock or shift that came to below the knee and then layers of petticoats and skirts over that so they really didn't need to wear anything any kind of bifurcated garment next to the skin. And in fact today any gynecologist will tell you that it's much healthier not to have close fitting garments in the feminine nether regions. I think you can see very If you look at the depiction by Boucher from 1742 called La toilette on team, which shows a woman answering the call of nature. So again, not having garments that you had to remove was very practical. She is using what's called a border Lou and that's one of these sort of portable chamber pots here. They were said to be named after our French preacher who preached for so long in church that women would have to go behind a screen to relieve themselves and I always think that there must be a lot Out of these in museum collections that are labeled as gravy boats, but at any rate. It was just very practical not to have any kind of drawers and that remained the case for centuries and centuries but I think if you know this about the past you can look at certain works of art like perhaps fragonard's the swing from 1767 and just have a whole new interpretation of what might be going on there. Now. Maybe he the young man is only trying to catch a glimpse of her garters like those beautiful embroidered ones from the Philadelphia Museum's collection on the far side that Tied above or below the knee to hold up her stockings. But just because they didn't wear Underpants doesn't mean that women wore. No underwear. In fact in the 18th century. The whole idea was to wear some incredibly restrictive underwear as we'll see but to look as if he were perfectly free and easy. So we have these two depictions from about 1760 that really show the essence of Rococo. Taste Madame de pompadour by Boucher again, everything is light and frivolous and easy. She looks so relaxed. Everything is feminine and delicate the Dress on the far side from the Philadelphia Museum's collections shows the same thing.

We Serpentine curving lines all - airiness, night and but this is all built over a very rigid foundation. So the whole idea of being natural in the 18th century was really based on nature taken to its fullest point of perfection. They believed that nature unrefined was not true nature nature needed to be refined in order to Be the best they use the analogy of a diamond until it's polished. Its of no use and has no Brilliance. So they believed that one should undergo a polishing process until one is the most natural and then one could look as if when we're totally free and easy so young children who are well-bred. We're taught from an early age by the dancing master. Not only the complicated steps of the minuet, but exactly how to hold their bodies how to do Emotion so that by the time they were grown up they could do all of these things and look as if it was natural and young children. Both boys and girls were put into stays or courses from a very early age to help them develop naturally and most beautifully the stays in this is one from the Philadelphia's collection and it's for a very tiny child at measures five and three-quarter inches up the center front. So it's for perhaps an 18 month old or two year old child. And again, this wasn't thought of as something that was being harmful to the child. It was thought of as helping them develop to hold her shoulders back and their chests out so that they would be the most perfect form. That they could be and it's rather like we think children need to learn how to walk in shoes. You know, that's just something you need to do now both boys and girls would wear these if they were well-bred, but boys would leave off wearing stays by about the age of 10 or so when they were thought to have developed this posture but girls of course went on wearing them into adulthood and this is a surviving example of a pair of stays from the Kyoto costume collection, which has the beautiful conical shape again still no emphasis on the bus line, but really on the taper, Down to that low point there are a hundred and sixty two different pieces of whalebone that are used to make this shape. Now whalebone is more properly known as baleen and it's not actually a bone. It's the cartilage from certain whales Jaws that they use to strain Plankton and to eat and these are baleen plates in the jaw of a bowhead whale in an early photograph and the amazing thing about bailing in the pre plastic age is it can bend and return to shape. So there's some flexibility to it. So if you could afford to have baleen this was what was preferred for boning the stays if you couldn't afford it and there are examples in museums. We have one you might use splits of wood or something and the one that we have is all broken at the waistline because if you bend too far, they just crack and poke out. So it was a very inferior substitute. So baleen or whalebone was used for For several centuries to give this beautiful shape. This is an example from our collection of mid-eighteenth century pair of stays and you can see the shape again. It really this stays won't lie flat on the paper to be photographed. It has a shape that it will impose on the Torso and helped to shape you in the form that was desired. It's this one is made of greenawalt Will and then reinforced with leather around the back and again these only laced up the Back, so you needed quite a bit of pressure to lace them up and the top and bottom is also reinforced with white kid leather so that the baleen won't wear through to further help reinforce that shape once you had your stays on over your Smock or shook or shift a woman could insert a busk. That's be usk down the center Front between the two and this would help ensure that there was no bending at the waist. These are three examples in wood metal and whalebone ivory from The Philadelphia collection. So you really had this very stiff torso. That was this perfect ideal now men were the ones who made stays in the 18th century and fifty men women on as well because it was thought that you needed a lot of strength to be able to thrust the baling into the casings, but women were the ones who sold them and you can see on this detail of the stays. I showed you all of these casings for all the separate bones all of them back stitch, which is a very strong Stitch and then the binding being around the bottom the decorative kid going up where the seams are and then this reinforcement up the back where you really needed quite a lot of pressure to pull on these hand-stitched eyelets. And this caricature from about 1775 is I think where they got the idea for that scene in Gone With the Wind with the holding onto the bed pool. You can see everyone here working to pull in the back laces of a woman's pair of stays and note the beautiful conical shape that she has to that.

So something else to notice is this garment hanging down the side here. This is a pocket which in the 18th century was a separate garment that could be tied around the waist either singly or in pairs and worn under the skirts the pocket and these are three from Philadelphia on the far side in different materials was just a teardrop shape and had a slit that you then had a corresponding slits in the outer garment and the petticoats you could reach through all of these slits and get into your Pocket and if you know the nursery rhyme about Lucy Locket losing her pocket, it must have come undone from her waist and fallen on the on the ground women could keep all of the things because they didn't carry handbags at this time. So they could keep everything that we would keep in a handbag handkerchiefs and so forth. And if you think that might be a little bit too bulky under your skirts in it in the 18th century. It really wasn't a problem at the time because very full skirts were once again in fashion the hoop Petticoat or panier had come in in the early. 18th century about 1710 and taken various forms, it was dome-shaped earlier in the century, but by mid-century, you can see that having a lot in a pocket was not going to be a difficult here. These are some of the extremes of the wide hooped petticoats of the time-worn. I assure you only at the most formal occasions for court by those few her at the very top of society. The red dress is preserved at the Victoria and Albert Museum days. About 1745 and is all embroidered in Gold thread. So the fact that you can afford to buy that much fabric with this incredibly expensive material and just the fabric and silk itself was expensive within the metallic embroidery on it really showed that you were someone in society and you also showed your status by having to learn how to maneuver this incredibly complicated Garmin. You can see the women in the 1770s engraving they're having to go through a doorway side. Is and of course there were all sorts of other complications. So handling one of these was a skill that needed to be learned. This is a far more every day one what farmer typical and the rear survival against surviving at the Kyoto costume Institute this hoop Petticoat here with caning around to hold it out. You can see the bottom of her Smock or shift there in this typical set of undergarments from the time. So it's great to have that survival. But again, we have to remember for this 18th century conception of nature as encompassing all of what to us seems to be amazing hindrances artificialities. So I love this painting by Gainsborough from the mid 18th century this idyllic English landscape this woman with her enormous hoop skirt and her husband here is sort of casually resting his arm on her hoop skirt. Like it's a some kind of armchairs just accepted as part of the world around them. But already by the 1770s and 1780s. The idea of nature is trying is changing. You have the idea of the noble savage the influence of Rousseau Looking Back To The Classical period so that while these incredibly wide hoop skirts go on being worn add Court as you see Marie Antoinette here on the near side in 1780 depicted by VJ LeBron. They are really out of fashion for the rest of society and in fact Brie Antoinette depicted by the same. Three years later isn't a very different style of gown what look to most people at the time really like underwear. It's called a Shamir stress or of chamise Allah rain, and when this painting was exhibited publicly, it caused such a scandal that it had to be withdrawn because it was just thought to be so shocking to see the queen of France in what looked to everyone I'm but she was of course one of the those who really kept up with the fashion love the Pastoral love the influence of the country modes that were were coming more in and the 1780s. So by about 1785 you have this fashion plate gone. Is this emphasis on the wide side to side instead? You have a little bit of a kick at the back of the skirt here held up with some kind of pet and a lot of emphasis on having a very full rounded bust line often with a handkerchief or neck-kerchief poofing that up. So a whole new conception of what the female body looks like. This is a depiction from 1786. Called a modern Venus drawn by Miss horror of bath. So showing really quite a change in what the ideal female should look like now and indeed by about 1800 the neoclassical influence had really taken hold and women and fashion. We're looking back to ancient Greece and Rome and and the statuary of the time for a very different line weights for now right under the bus line and imitation of the classical look Fabrics were much softer and Rapier and really they had at least according to the caricaturist discarded almost all of their underwear.

This is a wonderful depiction from 1799 predicting what Parisian ladies will wear for winter in 1800 and you can see that the caricaturist is showing them with very little on indeed now, of course some young women might be able to get away with us and the the portrait on the far side also from about 1800 from the circle of David really makes it very clear that she has next to nothing. Nothing on underneath that very sheer white cotton gown and but again most women need some help to achieve the ideal. And now that there is all this emphasis on the bus line women really worked to get that bus to be as full as possible. This is a Lawrence painting from 1803 that that shows you the new ideal for the bus line and on the far side a typical dress from the period showing just how much construction of the outer garment can help here. You have the front of the dress, which is folded down. It has slits on the side and it has this apron front and then this comes up there are under flaps under the bus. It's almost work like a support and our pin together to really give some support to the bust and then the front flap folds up and buttons here and ties under the bus again, helping to support it and then look at how closely the back shoulders are cut their really force you to hold your shoulders back to help put emphasis on the bus line. And finally notice this little tiny pad here at the very back. There's a lot of gathering in the back so that the back would flow out in a graceful line and that little pad ensures that it will flow gracefully and not cling to the small of the back in and ungraceful way. So everything about the dress construction, even of these what look to be very simple dresses is working to get the new ideal. And of course for most women still need some kind of support to help achieve the ideal. This is a caricature from 1810 by gillray that shows a woman putting on her stays and you can see now that corsets are stays are are now a very different shape than before to conform to this new ideal. This is a one from Philadelphia is collection on the far side showing these triangular shapes or Gore's that are now inserted at both the bust and the hip line to give much more of a rounded figure. You can see them here too on this woman yet. They still have the busk down the center Front. That's what she's inserting here and ours has one as well. This wouldn't busk that goes into a pocket now built right into the corset and helps to separate the the bus line. So really even though these look very unconvincing some of these clothes had a had more of a rigid under a structure underneath but even the neoclassical period although it lasted for 20 or 30 years was on its way out by the late 1820s and Women's Way. Started to get lower and lower and there was more emphasis on having a small waist. So once again women used the laws of proportion to help their waist, look small skirts got wider and wider and wider and sleeves got bigger and bigger as this emphasis on having a tiny waist went on. This is a great cartoon from about 1830 that says a correct view of the new machine for winding up the ladies and you have the made there as she is struggling to to lace up This corset but you'll notice that the big sleeves and the big skirt really help make the waist look smaller. And in fact in the late 1820s and early 1830s these enormously these were very fashionable. Once again on the far side a caricature of how these sleeves were achieved and not at all the correct view but here's the made here using a straw to blow up the sleeves. But what was actually used were these wonderful little puffs or sleeve supports made in a And filled with down because the ideal as are this dress from about 1830 shows is this very sloped shoulder line here within these enormous balloon sleeves very soft. And if you have a sleeve that is bigger than your waist. Of course, your waist is is proportionally much diminished. So this was was a these giant leg-of-mutton sleeves were in fashion for 15 years. By the time we get to the Victorian period the feminine ideal was very distinct from the masculine ideal men were to be out in the world conducting business doing practical things having all the power women ideally were to be at home concerned with the family and home life. They were thought of as ideally ethereal beings Angels Etc perfectly exemplified by the ballerina Marie taglioni that you see on the near side and everything. Out there dress was meant to reinforce these the differences between the two Sexes Vinter halter depicts the queen of the belgians in 1846 and this ultra-feminine liqueur spaniel curls the low neckline lace the colors the full skirts everything contrast with the the business suit that men were wearing by now.

So this idea of what was suitable of course emphasized a very small waist again as distinguishing women from men so the corsets of the time really help to give this hourglass shape. That was now desirable. This is a German view showing the front of a corset again with these triangular Gore's at the bust in the hip line and the back view of the of course. It said this time still laced only up the back so that you needed help from a mother or sister maid or a husband to get into them in the morning and to get out of them at night, but you can really see now that we have in the 1840s the evidence of Photography as well just how much the course it affects the way that a woman's torso is shaped and how even how she's sitting you can really see that underneath. It's almost as if you can see the corset right through the dress. It really shapes the Torso notice to this beautiful bottle necklace slope shoulder line and how low the arms are set here. So she really couldn't raise her arm up a lot. But it gave that line. That was so desirable at the time. now, of course just because women were meant to be these Angelic creatures doesn't mean that all of them necessarily were of course most women middle-class women especially had a lot of very heavy work to do around the house in the age before labor-saving devices the posed photograph on the near side shows women doing using a washing clothes using this dolly mop to really lot of physical labor required having to haul all the water and so forth and women were not necessarily the Angels they they were meant to be in other ways as well on the far side is a cartoon from 1840 by Giverny that shows a Getting his wife out of her corset at the end of the day and discovering something different. He says hmm upon my word how odd this morning. I tied a knot in this lace and now there is a bow, but just how firmly ingrained close and the idea of what was suitable for the two genders work can be seen in the early 1850s controversy about the Bloomer costume here on the near side is mrs. Amelia Bloomer wearing what to also I think looks like a rather modest costume. She was one of few women who believe that women should have more power in society, but they would never get anywhere if they were weighted down by their clothes these very impractical clothes. So what they proposed and she did not invent it but her name came to be associated with it was to have a less slightly less constricting bodice and to shorten the skirt so that the petticoats and We're not dragging in the street. But of course you couldn't just have your leg revealed for everyone to see so they fill that bottom Gap in with some form of loose trousers. Well, this was absolutely amazing to people who had never seen women in trousers before women. Remember, we're still respectable women not where I'm any kind of bifurcated garment even as underwear. So pants or trousers had come to be associated with men and men's power. So the minute women put these on on they were ridiculed and the satirist had a field day. This is one of many cartoons on the far side that show women are assuming all the rules of men of the time here. They are hanging around on street corners smoking cigars other cartoons shows in proposing marriage to bashful young men. The whole world was really tipped on its head because women were trying to adopt masculine prerogative just through adopting these clothes and indeed this American Image from 1855 shows that age-old question. Jin as women are trying to gather power who wears the pants something that still affects how we think because so firmly ingrained wear these garments with the idea of men having power women being much more the submissive creature. So this French lithograph here shows a woman kind of bowing down to the power invested in man's trousers in this period it really shows you how how these associations work and indeed the ideal women of the mid Victorian mid 19th century was to have an enormous spread of skirt. This broad base was thought commentator said to be pleasing to the eye and women worked all through the 1850s to have more and more wider and wider skirts. This is a cartoon from 1851 by Cruikshank called a splendid spread and you can see that this woman has obviously expanded her skirts with layers and layers of petticoats using horsehair starch stiffening everything she could and then there's lots and lots of Ruffles. Help make the skirt look even bigger. It's so big. In fact that the waiter has to hand her something on a sort of long-handled thing because he can't get close enough to hand her something in person. So something new was obviously needed because these layers and layers of petticoats were hot. They were heavy. They had to be laundered. They were expensive. They were thought to be unhealthy. So we need something new. This is a patent from 1848 for one idea that did not take off really but it's very clever. The this patent is for these tubes rubber tubes around the bottom of a petticoat that could be filled with air and hold a screwed out or another idea that was talked about was to have these tubes actually filled with water.

Now, what would be the advantage of that? Well, you can imagine in a time when most houses were heated with open fireplaces and women were wearing these incredibly wide skirts that their skirts could catch on fire and indeed some were burned to death through their skirts catching on fire. So There was talk. Although I'm sure it was never actually done that if you had these tubes filled with water. All you would have to do if you caught your skirt on far was to puncture one and you could extinguish The Blaze. But this was not very practical at all and finally in 1856 the sprung steel hoop skirt was introduced and this was really a Marvel of the the technological age this age of progress these sprung steel were very thin very light weight very flexible. They could be covered and then just hung made in graduated hoops and hung from tapes grommeted in place so the whole thing just Lapsed right down like a slinky but when it hang from the waist could give as much fullness as you wanted to the shape of your skirt. You would then just have to wear one or two petticoats over to sort of smooth line and you could have this vast expanse of skirt. So all through the late 1850s and into the 1860s women's skirts got bigger and bigger and the other Miracle of the technological age was that these groups could now be mass produced in factories and churned out by the hundreds of thousands some factories claim to produce 3,000. Hoop skirts a day in one Factory so they became much more affordable as more people became part of the middle class more people could afford to participate in fashion. And these hoop skirts became so cheap that everyone could follow fashion. Whereas previously and the Elizabethan farthingale or the 18th century who Petticoat these had been confined to the very elite. This was now a fashion that many could imitate so that you have articles talking about Factory girls and housemaids now trying to ape there. So-called betters by wearing hoop skirts and this is an English cartoon on the far side from 1864 showing a maid who you can tell is wearing a very cheap hoop skirt because it only has three hoops and has a very ugly line, but she's trying to dust a Victorian parlor that is absolutely crammed with all the bric-a-brac of the age and she can't imagine why everything is falling and breaking as she moves about in this enormous skirt. Of course, the Duchess of Wellington in this photograph is showing a much more refined. Find version of the style but you can see this vast Dome now that allowed for all sorts of exaggerated decoration. You have the sewing machine perfected by now so that you could really make clothes with so much quickly and much more easily. So that indeed to cartoonist like do me on the far side. It seemed as if women were no longer women they were balloons because their skirts were just so inflated but there was a problem with these hoop skirts they were Lightweight and so bouncy that they could catch on something they can blow up in a wind so you really could end up revealing much more than was permitted in society. And so this now for the first time respectable women really started to wear Underpants or drawers, but as you can see from the ones below these are very different than what we think of as Underpants. It's a waist band with two separate legs that come down below the knee very baggy and loose open at the crotch again for Practical reasons you wouldn't have to take them off. But this now is something that can if if you're a hoop skirt got caught or sprung up. You would have something covering your limbs, but the hoop skirt was thought by many women if it was fairly modest in size to be a blessing because it you really didn't need all of these petticoats and hot heavy layers and some were saying that it would it was a fashion. They could thought would endure forever. It was so practical so it just shows you that At your point of view is really very important in looking at Fashions. But already by the mid-1860s there was more and more emphasis as you see in the photograph here on the back of the skirt and all of the fullness started to shift to the back and the dome-shaped started to diminish. So the by about 1870 you have a new area that has Fashion the hips and rear of the skirt and the bustle period begins. Now again, this has to do with the conception of what is beautiful and I deal in the female form. The bustle was just thought of as something that that was in keeping with the women's forum. And it really, you know, many women are shaped this way. Although our modern ideal is very different but it was sort of part of this group consensus about what was aesthetically pleasing so, Courbet when he depicts the river goddess here in 1868 really Paints the bustle on to this woman into this woman at makes it part of her flesh because that's thought of as being the ideal and on the far side this illustration from an etiquette book from the 1870s shows two views of women this one wrong lack of symmetry. Look at those horribly wide shoulders of that poor woman. Look at those incredibly pathetically thin hips here, right? Well proportioned beautiful. Slope shoulder line with very tight fitting sleeves and then this nice vast expanse of skirt below the waist. So you're really a turnabout completely hear from many of our modern ideals and indeed women could Pat use all sorts of padding to get this vast skirt, which both the hips the stomach and of course the back of the skirt were patted.

You see the contrast here between the appearance of a dress from the 80 and on the far side a caricature called appearance and reality where this woman has padding everything. She possibly can to get the current feminine ideal and bustles could be made of just about anything you had ones like this one that was sort of half a spring steel hoop skirt some were made out of horsehair and gathered others were made of Springs hung vertically you could have them made of all sorts of fabrics and manufacturers holding out the back of the skirt and there were various various Silhouettes that were fashionable through the 20 years of the bustle period but certainly if you look at some of the most extreme bustles like this one from the mid-1880s, it really does look like some kind of upholstery that is on the back of a woman's figure here helping to give that perfect figure certainly photographs and Painters show this ideal the photograph from 26 on the near side here and of course the mid-80s depiction detail from the ground shot by Sarah with that real exaggerated almost right angle at the back of a woman's silhouette and I think if it weren't for photographs, it would almost be hard to believe just how extreme the bustle Fashions could be. This is an English actress in The mid-1880s who really has a very extreme bustle and I think that if an alien did come down and saw a woman dressed as Way, they might assume that there was a whole separate set of legs back behind. This is a figure made and in the 1940s by Bernard rudovsky, who did these wonderful depictions of what one might expect to find underneath Fashions of different eras. Of course, the other outstanding feature of late Victorian dress was the corset on the near side is mayonnaise the before the mirror from the mid-1870s showing this corset and the contrast that it allowed. Loud everything about a woman was to be soft and fleshy within the contrast of this very tiny waist and the only way to achieve that is really to bind the waste in separately on the far side is a corset from about 1890 from our collection a beautiful one decorated with silk embroidery that shows that hourglass shape now and the whale bone now could be steam molded and now you'll notice that there is an addition to the lacing up the back to adjust the course that there's a front opening busk. So Can put the corset on and take it off by yourself without needing assistance what once the laces are set and this this was a new invention as well. But certainly the Victorian course. It's really made the most out of the female figure. This is an 1873 depiction by careless Duran showing this fleshy soft. Look that was the ideal everywhere except with this tiny waist. This is a period when Michelle Obama's very muscular arms would have been considered quite unsightly. lately everything is to be soft and fleshy and then this tiny tiny waist and of course some women took this to extremes the posed photograph on the far side done for Comic effect makes the most out of trying to achieve this very tiny waist that was so much talked about at this at the time and has been talked about a lot ever since and certainly there were a small group of women who did achieve quite small waists and a group of people who fetishized of this look too but the course that had other Things in society some of which are still with us today the photograph here shows a group of people in this candid shot outside in San Francisco and 1877. And if you look at the figure in the light dress here again, you can really almost see the corset under this woman. She's you might say a straight-laced woman the woman on the other side from a few decades later is not perhaps quite of the same type. She is a loose woman without her. Corset now to most people in the late 19th century, course, it was needed for support. It was rather like we think a woman's busted a needs some support from from abroad you needed a corset and it was thought of as being healthy if it was properly fitted and indeed some courses, especially in the 1880s once electricity had come in were treated with electricity and were then said to cure all sorts of different diseases. This is kind of one of these fads of the a Age but on the far side this ad shows the Angels here delivering Madam Dean's corset to this wonderful group of women below who are so grateful to have this invention what people many people didn't like and what was much discussed at the time was actually tight lacing not the corset itself, but this overemphasis on a very very tiny waist. So you have cartoons like this one from 1870 where vanity and fashion here are lacing this way step and the Caption here is all modal and you have depictions of what they call the natural waist at 27 inches. And then the fashionable waist said to be at 16 inches. Now, of course, most women didn't get anywhere near this 16 inches. They used instead the laws of proportion. If you have a very full bus in a very full hips your waist is going to look much smaller, but there was a lot of talk against tight lacing and reformers of course went to the Other Extreme. mean what a woman before who wasn't too tightly laced what her intestines would look like in this drawing so you can really do anything you want with a drawing to prove your point.

And here's what happens to a woman who's too tightly laced somehow her liver and her some stomach have have kind of moved down into her thigh because there's not enough space. So of course reformers had a valid point about not over lacing but sometimes this they they exaggerated to make a point and you hear a lot of taught talk about these very very tiny waist that are just not we're not very fashionable. And in fact measuring surviving garments from costume collections proves that most woman's waist were nowhere near this 16 or 18 19 inches. There were a few at 19 and so forth but and instead this hourglass figure was really a question of emphasizing the other the bust in the hips. Certainly, you can see photos like this one and think about and talk about tight lacing but just because they hadn't invented photoshopping. It doesn't mean that everything you see is true. Here's another image of a woman with an incredibly tiny waist that you can see here in the unretouched photo is a small waist, but not as Tiny as Whoever has retouched that one to suit what they thought. So ideal, so there are ways of achieving a smaller waist even back in 19th century. And another way that I think my must have been used to is something like our modern vanity sizing where manufacturers know that if you have what used to be a size 14, but you call it a four more women will buy it if you'll if you'll notice here. This is a still from my bridges figures in motion showing a woman getting dressed and she's closing the front opening busk of her corset, but you can see the back lacing on its open a good four inches or so up the back. So I think a woman could buy a 21 inch waist corset and leave it open up the back and still kind of think to herself that she had a 21 inch waist just like we like to think we're a size for two or zero or negative whatever they've got gotten to now the other thing that's interesting about the my bridge photo is this funny looking thing at the back. She has on her drawers here and then out of the back of the open Karachi has as Hold it up and bunched the long skirt of her chamise, which is still being warned to give extra padding to the back of the skirt and help support the bustle. So what looks to us very unsightly had a practical reason as well. This is a very nice chamise and drawer set from Philadelphia's collection, which is beautifully a dated here with the an indelible ink the laundry marks alley be Houston number 18 was very important that you number it so that you can get the correct thing back from the laundry and day. Dad, November 18th 84 from her true. So this happens to have closed crotch drawers which were an alternative at this time. Although open crotch drawers or remains the most popular into the early 20th century, but something new is starting to happen to women's undergarments in the 1870s and 80s. They're getting more and more elaborate. They're starting to have much more lace and Frills and ribbons and all that kind of thing that we think of as lingerie rather than just being sort of practical starched. Armaments and this indeed and the newness of these drawers is what's being shown off in the dancers of the can-can at Moulin Rouge. And what's shown in Toulouse? Lautrec say 1891 depiction here as you have these exotic erotic drawers and all of this Frills and for free that's now starting to be part of feminine undergarments, but there were other new trends in the late 19th century to increasingly women were participating in sports and in the 1890s, there was a real craze for bicycling. That so that this China Doll the very simpering China Doll of the early Victorian period was giving way to much more athletic figure and you have underwear now taking account of that. This is an ad from 1896 for the new woman this much more athletic woman in a corset or corset waist that is corded but not nearly as constructive as course. It's worn for every day and you have other new trends as well that were a benefit to some women. This is a page from the 1097 Sears catalog now you can buy disposable sanitary napkins rather than having to use linen napkins that had to be laundered. So a great Boon to many women and by the end of the 19th century, you really have a very different figure than you had in the earlier mid-nineteenth Century. This is Sergeant's depiction of mr. And mrs. Ayan Phelps from 1897. And certainly this woman is very strong assertive much more athletic. those simpering early Victorian women, but just because we turn a century does not mean that everything changes so into the early 20th century, you still mainly have this emphasis on a very curvaceous feminine figure as you see on the actress Anna held on the far side. She was accused of causing sexual unrest with her extremely curvaceous figure and indeed the first decade of the 20th century is ma one of the most constructive in terms of Ninh underwear and this ad from 1905 makes that very clear its first of all called the FP pynchon waste tells you right there what it's going to do and it says that it has this special band across the waste that promises it will not stretch out no matter how tight you lace it to get a small waist.

The ideal feminine figure in this Edwardian period was extremely curvaceous the actress Camille Clifford on the far side showing that even though the bustle has The period there's still a great emphasis on the rear and this very full round of Chester very matronly figure and you can accentuate that with this beautiful S curve where you stand by thrusting your bust and your reroute to give this this beautiful ideal. And of course, if you can't achieve it yourself underwear can help you all you need to do according to this 1905 ad is to wear a hose supporter. That's this is one from our collection. This goes around the waist and holds your stocking. He's up in the front. But what it does then is force you into this S curve. So here is this woman without the Venus ho supporter poor thing. And here she is transformed into the perfect s-curve all through the miracle of this simple garments, but there were many changes happening in the early 20th century. First of all, there was much greater communication and transportation. The automobile had been invented. This is a page from an early etiquette. Look that assures the reader that it is in As Good Taste for a lady to drive as for a man. So when we're getting out more there is continuing redefinition of women's position in society as more women are working now outside the home and increasingly agitating for the right to vote as this woman is doing so that by about 1910 you have a whole new ideal of feminine. The feminine female figure that curvaceous figure is now really out of date and a much narrower line comes in with skirts that really fit tightly over the hips. This is us some Paris designs from about 1910. So now that woman's hips are being much more in view. You need to have the corset kind of go down and help to smooth that area and indeed course. It's really slumped down on the figure so far that one cartoonist called it the spat corset as they're getting lower and lower but when they slink down they leave If the feminine bus line without any kind of support or Improvement and this paves the way for what comes to be the defining Garment of the 20th century the brassiere the procedure had been invented earlier but really came into mainstream fashion by about 1910 but in a very different shape than we think of it again. It gives you that mono bosom that very rounded top to bottom side to side comes to the waist. The on the far side is one from the Philadelphia's. And showing the typical form of the brassiere that is to evolve as the feminine dramatically in the twentieth century certainly by the 1920s. There was a very different ideal the emphasis now on youth skirts were shortened for really the first time in in Western history. You could see how women moved around they no longer had this in this full-length skirt that Jesus seemed to Glide around can see them walking. There was a very boyish figure much younger. All of these changes reflected in the clothes and the undergarments so that by the mid 20s you have advertisements for the Brazier here emphasizing girlish form brassieres on this athletic women playing tennis really more boyish form brassieres and on the far side another one of those sort of Miracle improving garments an ad that you find the back of magazines just as you do today for women who Previously had thought themselves so lucky to be well-endowed. Now, they're drastically trying to reduce their bust during the daytime and this garment promises that it will do that if you only send no money, but order it today for those who were young and had ideal figures the typical underwear might consist of brassiere like this one from 1929 from our collection, which is really just a piece of chiffon with lace over it no shaping nothing to support the figure indeed. It really gives no support at all. But of course many women still wanted some help to achieve the ideal and continued to wear corsets or what we might think of as girdles such as these sold by the Sears catalog in 1923 and increasingly in the early 20th century. There is more and more influence from the film industry as you have people going to to the movies and seeing what is being worn on the screen there the These glamorous stars wearing things out here. We have a wonderful bias cut dress on Norma Shearer that clings to the figure. So undergarments have to evolve as the the female figure has these very clingy garments and all in ones which combined the brassiere and girdle into one are now becoming more common and increasingly more and more people able to participate in fashion so that there's clothes available at all price points the Sears. Log from 1933 selling women's Underpants as low as 22 cents for those who could send in to get them and they could be delivered throughout the country the total other end of the scale. You have luxury garments now like this beautiful pair of stepan's from the Philadelphia collection from trousseau from 1931 silk satin all handmade handmade lace and embroidered with the name of the Rich Young Bride Betty.

On them. So the two ends of the spectrum but not that dissimilar in shape. Of course skipping very quickly through the 20th century with the Advent of the second world war many women assumed positions in factories and supporting the troops that that had previously been foreign to them as there's now more and more of an emphasis on women helping out and a very masculine silhouette with these enormous shoulder pads that you see on Ida Lupino on the far side and shorter skirts much more straight line screwed says the war effort really gets into full production. Although many women. Minded that they should also address very flattering lie to remind the troops what they were fighting for and one of my favorite ads of all time from 1943, of course underwear manufacturers were in a bit of a bind at the time because many of the materials they use like rubber and other things were conscripted forward purposes, but somehow and don't ask me how this wearing this panty girdle by quarters will help defeat. Hitler Mussolini, and the Japanese Emperor as you're right in line for Freedom certainly many new technologies coming into play here that will be much more exploited after the war like the introduction of nylon, which of course revolutionized stockings. But after the war women it was expected would return to their traditional position of the home and family and there's a great emphasis. 19 late 40s through the early 60s on this return to a very curvaceous feminine ideal. You see it in ads like this one for the Peter Pan bra from 1947 the Merry-Go-Round bra the secrets in the circle and I love the way that they sort of photographed From Below to make the most out of all the feminine assets and of course dior's famous new look in 1947 that returns to the full Bus Line nipped in waist and very full long skirt that had been Popular before the war so women in the 50s and early 60s were expected to be very curvaceous and a sex goddess has to have what the Jansen adhere calls curve Allure the small difference between girl and Glamour Girl and of course the famous Maidenform campaign from the late 50s into the 60s here. She's dreaming she drove. Hidden form bra but at the same time that you were supposed to be a sex goddess in this torpedo bras women were expected to remember that they should always be ladies. This is really my favorite out of all time from a Vogue in 1954 the woman here with her matching pearls her white gloves or coordinated accessories is always a lady even when choosing her beer and that's what this ad Is for because after all every man wants his woman on a pedestal as the ad from 1961 for this nylon pin Morissette has it but of course that ideal to is tossed aside in the later 60s as a whole new emphasis on youth comes in they very slight figure of Twiggy shown here. They Young Generation who wants to do your own thing with dresses like this plastic dress by Betsey Johnson that lets you rearrange so shape and express yourself. Of and indeed underwear manufacturers are really exploiting the fact that that less is more at this time women now, no longer had to wear a girdle or a garter belt to hold up their stockings since pantyhose was introduced in the early 1960s as this ad says now you have a choice and on a 1970 the added for this panty hose which was called scanty hose had the caption less is more. So for a while. It really seemed like aware and close perhaps would disappear altogether as hippies redefined fashion and a sort of space-age look came in way. Maybe we'd all be wearing unisex unitards in the future or very little underwear like the thong bikini underpants from the 1980s. But now that women no longer had outer underwear to reshape themselves increasingly. They're expected to reshape their figures on your own without a girdle you're expected to exercise until you have Buns of Steel as this ad from the early 90s has it or if that doesn't work to have surgery to correct your figure flaws so that you can conform to the Contemporary ideal women were increasingly, assuming more and more position in the business world. The woman's dress for success book was published in 1977 telling women how to get ahead in business and underwear manufacturers, like jockey introduced jockey for her in the mid-80s that was based on men's underwear. Very practical something you could wear that was comfortable and they were incredibly successful very soon. But women in our to show their power also adopted other things like incredible shoulder pads. This is a Valentino from the mid-1980s that shows A pure would silhouette now but just inverted from this very wide shoulders which proportionally makes the hips look slimmer, which is what women wanted at the time and I think the shoulder pad fad has some interesting things to say about women's role in society.

This is an ad for a foam rubber shoulder pad called pints of pads that the the owner of the founder of the company started and marketed in ice cream cone ice cream cartons because she said that she got originally from the deli downstairs. So this ad from 1986 contrast This Woman's foam rubber shoulder pad with the real Muscle Man. And I can bring my passwords were very Savvy at the time to Victoria's see purple was one who supported the idea of do it for yourself. This isn't necessarily something or doing the someone else indulge yourself okay with this romantic idea of underwear. So that a woman was expected to be a businesswoman during the day a sex goddess at night and then physically train and we're wearing the underwear so that she could Jog and keep herself physically fit as well. So different roles in the late 20th century and increasingly underwear was seen on the outside as well stars and celebrities and designers realized that to the modern audience underwear is actually more shocking than the nude body Madonna in her goatee a corset on her blond ambition tour that it was really more shocking when her pinstripe suit jacket was slit open to reveal this underwear that it would have been to see the naked body in our contemporary society and you could get a lot of attention with underwear on the far side Elizabeth Hurley arrives at an event in a Versace red dress that is slit, incredibly High to reveal her Versace leopard-print underwear and got a lot of attention and publicity from it and I think really the most extraordinary thing to me is that she wore this outfit to the wedding of friends. So standards are slipping. And certainly I designers are looking back to underwear increasingly in the late 20s and into the 21st century. You have me Aki's bustier that redefines the corset and makes it this this statement. That's almost like a sculpture in itself. It's a it's something that you slip on like you put on a bracelet over your your wrist and gives you that shape and designers like Chloe in 1990s using underwear as outerwear making a corset top dress. Of course without the chemise that would have been underneath but underwear is also more and more seen as designers rush to put their names around. They the tops of underwear and people are surprisingly willing to pay much more for someone else's name and even panties making their way as as this Victoria's Secret ad from 2003 has Fashions newest accessory so you can show off the back of your thumb. Bikini underwear and the jewels that Adorn it and indeed we've seen recently perhaps a bit too much of underwear or whatever. Sometimes called whale tails on the the very in public perhaps. We don't really don't need to see quite this much but certainly our ideal of the ideal female body. Here is is something like this one still this is a model. It really amazed. She added model in a Chanel micro bikini. That's that's come to be accepted as what we see every day in fashion magazines and on celebrities. So now we have these constraints in this wonderful New Yorker cartoon from 2003 on the far side that has the one woman saying to the other to the other. I used to hate my body now instead. I hate the forces that conspire to make me hate my body. Certainly, we still have many of the garments from the past. We've just given them new names and done them a new Fabrics. This might look to you like a panty girdle, but in the 1990s Victoria's Secret marketed it as the body shaper bike short a modern name and of course spanks have now come in and are not thought of as being a girdle anymore. But something that just gives you that little extra help you need so in conclusion It all depends on how you look at underwear. It can be as this Victoria's Secret ad has it a miracle that can transform you into model of loveliness or as this wonderful ad for the magic ring. Bra has it this barbed wire bra the caption on top reads shortly after the introduction of the first underwire bra Valium was invented coincidence.

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