Look How Far We’ve Come: A Short History of Shapewear

History of Shapewear, shape wear, vera donna, couture, australian made, luxury wear, luxury life

We might be at a point in time where we have just come to take shapewear for granted and accept it as an ordinary part of our lives, but the history of shapewear, or “formation garments”, is much longer than you might have thought it would be. We thought we would lay it all on the table for you and give you a brief overview of how shapewear came to exist as we know it today.

It might shock you to discover that the earliest known shapewear can be dated back to the times of Ancient Greece, with some of the earliest pieces from as early as 2900BC. Back then, shapewear was designed primarily for women’s bust areas, with the intention of having the bust pushed out as much as possible. It’s certainly a look that was popular at the time but these days you might get a few strange looks if you wear one of their “mastoeides” on the street these days.

The Romans continued with their predecessor’s contributions to the world of shapewear, and they also chose to wear it on the outside from time to time. Roman women would wear leather girdles, embellished with jewels and embroidery with the intention of having it seen. Underwear has certainly become more acceptable outerwear in recent years, so its interesting to see just how far we can date it back to.

By the Middle Ages and continuing onto Elizabethan times, modesty was far more in vogue, and formation garments became something that was firmly restricted to beneath clothing. Women were encouraged to wear steel corsets, which thankfully we have improved upon, to keep their stomachs flat, and have heavy petticoats beneath their dresses. These bustles are what we all most commonly associate with clothing of the period, and even though plenty of people might still be after that flat tummy, most have graduated past the need for horrendously full skirts.

Women were subjected to painful corsets for many years to come following the Elizabethan period, however. By the Victorians of the 19th century, having a tiny waist was ideal, and women would often require help to be strapped into what they were wearing. Corsets were still being made with steel, but whalebone was also frequently used to help create those tiny silhouettes we associate with the period. Most people are probably aware of just how drastic these corsets were, and led to organ damage and permanent disfiguration.

We can continue to trace the history of shapewear alongside the history of society’s ideas of “beautiful” into the 20th century. After World War 1, shapeliness was out and thin was the ideal for women. Flappers in the 1920s were encouraged to look as thin as possible, with shapewear designed to bind breasts close to the body rather than emphasise what had previously been considered a more “womanly” figure.

The middle of the 20th century brought about a revival to shapeliness, with the hourglass figure becoming the goal figure once more. Shapewear and clothing followed this ideal, designed to enhance busts and hips, with girdles in place to suck in any excess around the waist.

Since then, shapewear has continued down the path of change, adhering to what is defined as “beauty” at any given time. Now, the main focus is on making shapewear conform to your natural body shape, with its purpose designed to smooth out any unsightly areas, but thankfully we are past the point of organ damage and bustles.

Share this Post!

About the Author : Vera Donna

0 Comment

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Related post