For those of you interested in how our desire began for squeezing,
cramming, manipulating and reshaping our figures to a perfect
silhouette, via the lingerie route, read on…
For centuries women have tried to achieve the perfect silhouette
demanded by fashion and culture. One of the first tools of the trade,
so to speak, was the corset.
As with the modern woman who is currently no more in favour of
bouncing, jiggling or even displaying the dreaded saggy bustline,
women in the Cretan period (circa. 1600 BC) felt the same way. For
those cretan female warriors, infamous for their fussy heavy garments
to fight and scare the enemies with, their decolletages were supported
by an underbust corset (check out our underbust corsets at
notnaked.co.uk). Not quite sure what the enemy thought of a half naked
woman with a few sharp implements in her hands, but it seemed to work
Moving on to the grecian women (circa. 1000 BC), they wore the
apodesme ( a strip of fabric rolled under the bustline). Rather than
to enhance the breasts, this was to offer support and prevent bouncing
when walking. Notnaked.co.uk have a similar modern day product, which
to be honest IS actually more for enhancement, called the quarter cup
bra. The Beauty Night La Luna is a great example of one of our many
Next came the Romans. The less endowed Romans wore a bandage like
garment similar to a bandeau bra. The more generously endowed woman
wore the ‘mamillare’, a cross-over system of ribbons, along the lines
of the Playtex ‘Cross Your Heart’ Bras.
The corset started making its appearance again in the early medieval
period. The favoured silhouette at the time was small, high breasts
and a full rounded stomach . Fashion dictated pointed shoes and
sleeves at the tips of fingers, which were considered sexually
stimulating. The torso was contained within a cotte, or bliaunt, which
was a forerunner of the corset.
When the Elizabethan period made its appearance, the silhouette was
noted for having an elongated and exaggerated pointed look. The corset
was worn with a circular wooden, wheel-like device called a
farthingale, which focused the attention on the hips, creating a
seductive swaying motion when walking.
This obsession with volume in dress was echoed in the menswear of the
period. The puffy sleeves and breeches were counterbalanced with the
male focus of sexual styling, the codpiece. This was a wooden pouch
padded with horsehair and worn in a not dissimilar way to a cricket
box. The codpiece was even incorporated into armour.
Jean Paul Gaultier and Vivienne Westwood both incorporated the
codpiece into their collections in the 1990s.
One of the most sexually inspired periods of our times came next, the
Restoration period. The sexually directed fashionable dress made
female attributes more available to the eye. Corsets were widely worn
by all classes. They were given by lovers as a promise of love, often
embossed and carved in silver and ivory. The most famous corset was
the Hussy. This claimed to ‘contain the strong, sustain the weak and
bring back those who have strayed’. Notnaked.co.uk have a lovely range
of non-straying corsets at
Notnaked.co.uk will continue with our history of lingerie in the
second part of our article, coming soon.