This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series The Roman Empire and other ancient stories

The earliest clothing object, according to the Bible, dates back to the time of Adam and Eve, and seems to be a coverture for sex, made from plant fiber. Since then, people have continued to wear their panties as a normal garment. Throughout history, they have come across various forms. Gladiators, for example, were among the first carriers of thongs.  image

The famous intimate lingerie then wore the name of the subligaculum and was made up of a white wool strip that covered the bottom of the body and was sitting in the front and back under the belt. Greek athletes and actors, like the Romans, also wore panties (perizoma) in order not to expose their genital organs, considered as in the adamic times, shameful. However, during the 15th Olympiad (720-716 BC), the concept of heroic nudity emerged. Athletes could compete without their hips covered, thus giving up the perizoma. The change was so radical that it was recorded by historians. Toga of the Roman nobles hide the same underwear. The Roman women wore under the hoods a sort of triangular panty brief, with the back slightly wider and fastened by a belt. The underwear was caught with safety pins or needles. 

From a historical point of view, primitive forms of perizoma were used by many ancient populations. By the middle of the 6-th century BC, Etruscans are usually represented with shorts or panties varying in length, from very short to knee. The phallus’s shirt was called the scythes, by the Egyptians, and it was made of cotton. The slaves were simpler, while judges, priests and pharaohs were more refined and more adorned.

The word underware (culottes) is of French origin. From the Middle Ages and the Renaissance until the beginning of the 19-th century, the French aristocrats wore panties, a kind of pantyhose socks, the length of which ranged from knees to ankles. During the French Revolution, the revolutionaries were known as “sans-culottes”, known for their pants preference.

Marlene Dietrich and garter stockings

The history of the stockings (separated from the pants) begins in 1589, when William Lee invented the world’s first sock knitting machine. This is how the first stockings made of wool, cotton or silk appeared. Until the middle of the 16-th century, both men and women wore them especially to protect themselves from cold. The stockings, as we know them today, have a relatively recent history. In 1939, Julian Hill discovers the nylon, a synthetic, resistant and silk-like thread. The nylon was a revelation and the first stockings of this material appeared in New York’s stores in the spring of 1940. Only on the first day were sold 72,000 pairs, which made the Japanese silk market to collapse almost instantly. In the first year 64 million pairs of socks were sold and the manufacturers could not keep up with the demand. 

World War II stops the production of socks, and nylon threads are used predominantly for making parachutes and military tents. The one that has made a major contribution to popularizing this garment was Marlene Dietrich. The famous German actress took the fashionable transparent socks to the small screen with a girdle. However, the garter has an appreciable length of time.

Returning to the stocking story, we have to say that women start to show their feet, especially because technological advances in the 1950s allow the manufacture of slimmer stockings of different colors and, very importantly, greatly reduce costs. The 1960s means the sinking of stockings with a girdle and the appearance of colants, a pantyhose stocking. With the emergence of the mini skirt, the elastan, a new fiber that enhances the quality and diversity of stockings, also appears in the early 1970s.

The ancestor of the bra

In antiquity, there was no intimate lingerie, and the clothes were worn directly on the skin. Strips of leather supported the waist and breasts of women. The Roman aristocrat adds a new piece to the dress, an intimate tunic dressed as a lingerie. There were no tailors at the time. The women only needed two pieces of cloth and, with the help of the fibula, they could adjust their own clothes.

In the 17th century, the piece of resistance became the bodice that had a brassiere role. In 1900, the image promoted is that of a woman with a clamshell waist. This was not achieved easily but by the tightening of the whorls of the bodice that compresses the thorax, immobilizing the last ribs by pressing the plexus. Under these circumstances, breathing became very difficult, the bodice often causing fainting for which women wore in their purse salts with pungent odor.

1910, the birth of the brassiere

Vogue magazine printed for the first time the word bra (brassière) in 1907. The bra was considered a symbol of women’s emancipation and celebrated as such. The bra has narrowed, sustained, lifted, maximized, and minimized generations of female breasts, from the faded ones, fashionable in the 20s to those bloated, worn in the 1940s and ’50s. The first woman to wear a bra was Mary Phelps Jacob, a young fashion woman who, in 1910, realized that a corset did not fit a diaphanous dress. With the help of her maid, the young woman tied two silk handkerchains to a pink cotton belt and obtained an object by which her breasts were fastened under the dress. In 1914, Phelps patented the brassiere without a back. The age of the bra had begun.


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  1. helmibireuen

    Very inspired, where a long journey from the history of a bra in women including bras was created and used, so that with various revolutions to date. The use of clothing and also inside clothes has become a reactionary thing for the upper class … great post

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