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At dress between

by meappropriatestyle


Partially clothed, a state of ‘undress’

has is seductive qualities

not totally bare

yet almost there, a moment in time suspended.

Neither fully clothed,

nor totally bare

this is to be in ‘underwear’.



Underwear has long been part of our dress habits.

The ancients wore a type of undergarment-

a loin cloth covering the genital area.

During Roman times both men and woman

donned some manner of under clothing-

a sort of pants for man and for women a band of cloth around the chest.

In the medieval era, even a type of “breast bag” was introduced-

a proto-type idea of the modern bra (1913).

‘Breast bands’

A segement of a mosaic in the Villa Romana del Casale,

Piazza Armerina, Sicily, 2nd to 4th century

illustrates women wearing ‘breast bands’ while

participating in athletics

underwear, va, medieval breast bands, historymedren.about.com., mosaic of women athleteswomenathletes

(image from historymedren-about.com)


More commonly, during the medieval period and later the Renaissance

most people wore only a chemise:

a simple linen shift shirt.

White chemise exposed

in a painting by

Meister S. H. von Linz (circa 1490 / 1500)

 underwear, va, painting by meister s.h. von linz, chemise, pinterest.com

(image from pinterest)

The wearing of undergarments, however

was not a universal practice or considered of particular necessity.

Rather it was more of limited luxury

and certainly only adopted by those of the wealthy classes.

By the Renaissance,

underwear fashion had begun to define silhouette.

In the 16th century, European women

were subjecting themselves to wearing

constrictive under clothing (corsets)

in the pursuit of achieving figure altering forms.

Towards the end of the 19th century

severe health issues from body deformative results

of tightly stayed corsets

were well documented features of women health concerns.

‘Foot to back’

woman being tightly laced into her corset (19th C.)

underwear, va, Victorian woman being laced into coreset, ntlworld.com

(image from ntlworld.com)

In the past, undergarments were worn more for practical purpose

as a protective layer, between body and outerwear-

one measure to limit the need for constant washing of outer garments;

and as another layer of warmth.

Today, underwear as practical fashion

and lingerie as fashion ‘for certain eyes only’

is no longer strictly so.

Their new status is of fun / flirty pieces on full display.


Lingerie and underwear as outerwear

 s / s   2016

from Givenchy

underwear, va, lingere outerwear, givenchy s 16, vogue uk_

from Saint Laurent

underwear, va, saint laurent s16, vogue uk

from Dries Van Noten

underwear, va, dries van noten s 16, vogue uk

(images from vogue uk)

As with all clothing / fashion trends

‘under-wearing’ practices has experienced many changes and intent.

The exhibition

Undressed:  A Brief History of Underwear

chronicles the style transitions and current trends

of under garments from past eras (mid 18th C.) to present time.

This illuminating exhibition is not to be missed

for it sheds further light on an important aspect of dress history.

Undressed:  A Brief History of Underwear

at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

16 April 2016  to 17 March 2017

Visit http://www.vam.ac.uk for further details