100 Years of Lingerie

From demurely natural to the heightening of sexuality, lingerie has come a long way over the last century.


Mode has put together a three-minute timeline of the most popular lingerie trends from 1915 to 2015. Beginning with the simple white skivvy of the early decade, lingerie transitions to silkier looks and the revealing of more skin. The video is a compelling and accurate look at what styles were most alluring and desirable at different points in time. Most importantly, lingerie isn’t restrictive to a single body type – the final moments of the video see women of all shapes and sizes make an appearance.



Over the decades, seduction replaced elegance. Lingerie became one of the fashion industry’s leading products, with pieces accentuating female embellishment, sensuality and beauty. These items of clothing were not only a means of feeling seductive, but were also a functional addition. Seamless styles were introduced and by the end of the 1990’s, lingerie favoured the blatant over the intimate.


The simple and chic look of 1915 – Mode.com


The roaring twenties followed the modest and covered looks that featured in day-to-day fashion, as reflective of the society at the time. Styles were loose and left to the imagination. Following this, the 1940s introduced the shapely silhouette. When people think of this style, what comes to mind are images of curvy pin-up girls dressed in lace and satin, as seen on posters popular during the war period. Women wore body-shaping corsets with long nightgowns — an iconic look still well-known today.




Lingerie slowly became more about tighter fitting outfits that highlighted curves and showed more skin: see the high-waisted bottoms that contrasted with the frilly slip from the 1950s. The following era saw an all time low in bra sales, with the rise of bra burning during the feminist movement. Light and seamless underwear catered for a more natural silhouette.


The 1985’s undergarment was all about long legs and emphasised cleavage. Victoria’s Secret transformed the lingerie industry during this decade, introducing thongs and high-waisted bodysuits that many performers, like Cher, would wear as outerwear. The 1990s would later see lingerie characterised by thigh-high stockings, garters and lots of lace. This iconic style is what comes to mind when most people think of lingerie.


Garters and stockings became a popular pairing in the 1990s – Mode.com


The timeline finishes with 2015’s satin romper, reflecting the underwear-as-outerwear look of today. Fashion is always evolving as needs change and societies transform. It’ll be interesting to see where the lingerie industry goes next.


If you want a more detailed look at the evolution of lingerie, have a read of FIB’s Masters of Fashion: Lingerie.