The Evolution of Lingerie

lingerie trends post

We’ve been getting in touch with our nostalgic side here at The Confectionery and it’s got us thinking about where it all began….

All lingerie trends have to start somewhere, and whilst it’s easy to believe that we could teach our strait-laced Victorian ancestors a thing or two about the sexy side of life, you’ll probably be surprised to find that the opposite is true. They might have been wearing 20 layers of skirts but as we all know, it’s what’s underneath that counts…

We took a walk down memory lane and discovered that our forebears could be just as indecent, kinky and downright naughty with their underwear choices as us!

Alluring ancient times

Ever wondered what they were keeping under those toga’s? Yep, us too. Well in most cases, the answer is nothing! We’ve all seen classical sculptures depicting learned fellows and ancient beauties – nudity was clearly par for the course for ancient people and in many cases was celebrated. They were clearly a very liberated bunch….

The Romans were slightly less inclined to strip off, although obviously the balmy climate of ancient Rome meant clothing was kept to a minimum. Loincloths made of leather would have been common, particularly for the lower classes – think Gladiator, or Spartacus, mmmm…it’s no wonder leather has endured as one of racier fabrics used in lingerie production!

A famous mosaic from the 4th century AD gives an idea of what the ladies were sporting – who would have thought bandeau tops and high leg briefs would have been in the wardrobe. These sassy ladies were about 2000 years ahead of trend!

Roman Mosaic
Detail of the Piazza Armerina mosaic, dubbed the “bikini girls” mosaic (Public domain image via Wikimedia Commons)


Gorgeous Georgians

The dawning of the corset. If there’s one lingerie piece that consistently puts the imagination into overdrive, it’s the corset, or ‘stays’ as they were know in Georgian times. Designed to pull the shoulders back and enhance a high, full bosom, the corset has been a favourite amongst lingerie fashionistas for centuries. Renowned for creating what at the time was considered to be the ‘perfect silhouette’ these cornerstones of lingerie fashion have gone through numerous transformations and re-imaginings over the centuries, which leads us neatly on to…..

Georgian stays
Stays 1770 – 1790 in Red Damask (courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum)


Va va voom Victorians

Also fans of the corset – as it was by then known – the Victorian age took this foundation piece to whole new levels. The corsets of the mid-Victorian era were cut from separate pieces stitched together to give a round bust and shaping over the hips. A busk (a flat piece of wood or steel) was inserted into the centre panel to give a smooth line down the front. The effect was a small waistline that accentuated the hips and flowing lines of the skirt.

The corset is not without its critics however. Lauded as symbolic of female submission and subservience, which was of course prevalent in the Victorian age, there was a definite move away from the corset at the turn of the century, heralding a new, more liberated era of lingerie fashion.

Victorian corsets
1877 Macy Victorian Corsets (Image courtesy of


Flirty Fifties

From the 1920s onwards, corset sales continued to decline rapidly. Fashion of the day dictated a looser, more flowing line – a trend that continued through the 1930s. The corset didn’t die a death completely however, and girdles were also very much in existence during the war years. These were often paired with a brassiere in satin or cotton, designed to give a more pointed line to the rounder shapes we see today.

The fifties heralded a new wave of glamour – curvy hips, big breasts and small waists were all in, boyish silhouettes were most definitely out. The lingerie of the time was designed with this in mind and so there was a prevalence of shape enhancing garments so that certain body parts could be either uplifted or flattened! Girdles, full corsets and ‘waspies’ paved the way for modern day

An explosion of different colours and fabrics meant rapid development in lingerie fashions during this period and as the hippy revolution and sexual liberation was getting underway, lingerie was suddenly becoming less about concealing and more about revealing…

Jayne Mansfield
Jayne Mansfield in 1959 achieving the desirable ‘pointy’ silhouette (Image courtesy of


Foundation lingerie
Foundation garments of the 1940’s and 50’s were essential for the new trend for ‘waspish’ waists (Image courtesy of


Naughty noughties and beyond

Lingerie certainly became more playful from the sixties onwards. Not only were women experimenting with bold colours and patterns, but women suddenly had the freedom of choice in shape as well – a revelation! From balconette to bralette, padded to push up, lingerie went through a complete renaissance, allowing women to wear stunning lingerie just for the sheer joy of it.

Big brands such as Wonderbra (who could forget that advert) and Agent Provocateur stole the show as another new century dawned, heralding a new era of female empowerment and women choosing lingerie to feel good about themselves. I know I went and brought a Wonderbra on the back of that advert!

Wonderbra advert
The advert that stopped traffic – the iconic ‘Hello Boys’ featuring Eva Herizgova in 1994 brought international attention to Wonderbra


So, what’s new for 2018? We predict big things from the current wave of ‘kinky-esque’ lingerie, which has strong hints of fetish and erotica inspired styles, and is definitely on the more risqué end of the scale. Luxury loungewear continues to gain momentum, with stunning silks and beautiful detailing leading the resurgence. Why not check out our range of new sweet treats for 2018 right here

Elegant Moments seductive lingerie & underwear      High quality glamour lingerie | UK boutique lingerie shop

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