Exposed: A History of Lingerie

As the final barrier to the nude body, lingerie is inherently erotic. Yet the design of lingerie unquestionably enhances its allure, by strategically concealing, revealing, and highlighting the wearer’s form. As designer Chantal Thomass observed, “The essence and attitude of lingerie is all in suggestion.” There are two types of lingerie: hard and soft. Hard lingerie includes such items as corsets, bustles, and structured bras. Soft lingerie consists of unstructured garments, including slips, nightgowns, and panties. In any of its forms, lingerie is a crucial component in the history of fashion. Just as the relationship between dress and the body has been redefined over time, so too has the function and appearance of intimate apparel. Lingerie remains a topic of enduring fascination.