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A brief history of shapewear

From corsets to built-in shapewear

The first form of shapewear is without a doubt the corset, popularized in the 16th century it was made to sculpt and shape the body, conforming it to the silhouette in fashion. The corset has a rich and diverse history, but its general goal was to create a small waist. Corsets were made out of silk, cloth and boning to insure their rigidness. In the 19th century, the wasp-waisted figure was in style, creating waists so thin that women and men suffered permanent damage. In the early 20th century designers such a Poiret changed to fashion scene, creating clothes with less emphasis on the waist and more on the overall curves. The corset progressively stopped being a common practice.

In the roaring twenties, a new shapewear trend emerged. The fashion was for thin silhouettes and few curves, and women wore camisoles, slips and bras that were made to hold in a bind the body. 

In the early 30s, the modern girdle became the newest shapewear trend. Made with stretchy fabric the girdle encircled the torso and sometimes the hips, and created an overall smooth look.

In the 1960s pantyhose surpassed the girdle in popularity, smoothing out the stomach area. Pantyhose are sheer tights that conveniently combine the effects of stockings and control panties. They too were used to smooth silhouettes and hide visible bulges and lines.

 By the end of the 20th century, new technology and fabrics revolutionized shapewear. Lycra and spandex became the most popular shapewear fabrics and soon companies were designing shapewear undergarments for every occasion.

Now women have access to a wide variety of shapewear products, from camisoles to slips, body wraps, shapers and many more. Recently two very different trends in shapewear have been emerging. Corsets are making a comeback, and women are binding them bodies to reduce their waist size and loose weight. But a new wave of more comfortable and respectful shapewear has also appeared, companies that create clothing with shapewear functions that are already built-in, clothing such as leggings or skirts with integrated shapewear, allowing the modern woman to stay comfortable and look amazing.



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