History of Knickers
Which do you love the most? Brazilians? Hipsters? Boxers? And no we’re not talking about men! Believe it or not, the knickers that we know and love today have only been around since the 1940s. Before that we have had everything from ‘drawers’ pantaloons and absolutely nothing at all! Whether you love your thongs, g-strings or briefs, here’s a history of knickers to show you how we got to your favourite pair.
I want to break freeeeee!
Before the 18th century women were completely knickerless. That’s half the population running around with no pants on! Talk about breezy. But of course it wasn’t so shocking. Women’s dresses were exceptionally long and would be worn with with long underskirts. If a woman rode a horse her dignity was covered by the many layers and the length of these dresses. They also had the option to side-saddle. Going commando is all good and well, until your monthly cycle comes to visit. We think that the Feminesse Menstrual Cup would have been helpful to our female ancestors!
Hello Fancy Pants
At the end of the 18th century we start to see the first underpants. Women began to adopt drawers which were two legs joined at the waist. That is where the reference to a ‘pair’ of knickers came from as they literally were a pair. By the 1850s drawers start to become fancier, with the Victorians opting for silk for that added bit of luxury.
The drawers didn’t have crotches, so we still wish we could have helped our Victorian gals with the menstrual cup!
Beware of the exceptionally dangerous, most petrifying… pants?
Doctors did not recommend the wearing of underpants, warning that the lack of air around the women’s nether regions could endanger their health and reduce their chance of producing heirs. Thankfully women ignored these comments and wearing drawers started to grow in popularity as well as becoming part of the fashion.
Practical Pretty Pants – The 3 Ps of the 20s!
Some women were still wearing drawers but the emergence of knickers brought a more practical option. The 1920s also saw the use of lace and embroidery increase. Knickers were getting even prettier!
It’s sew good to make your own knickers!
During World War II the motto “make do and mend” epitomised this era of undergarments. Women had to rely on homemade knickers due to war rations. The really lucky were able to make them from parachute silk. Interestingly, the knickers given to women in the armed forces were described as “passion killers” due to their lack of style.
The war was over and fabrics were there to be played with! The 1950s saw nylon and elastic come into play which completely revolutionised the style and design of underwear. Machines were now manufacturing knickers meaning more options and colours too! Adverts became more sexual with a noticeable marketing shift to men buying for their wives. 1957 broogh us the iconic image of Marilyn Monroe standing over the air vent. Knickers were no longer taboo and in fact added to the glamour and sensuality of the 1950s.
She wore an itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka-dot bikini
The 60s brought us the bikini style whilst also bringing us frilly knickers as fashion moved towards a more girly and youthful style.
The 90s brought us a more minimalist style of underwear – think of thongs and g-strings. We also see designer knickers becoming increasingly popular. Calvin Klein was the epitome of luxurious simplicity when they launched their briefs with their branded waistband and chose Kate Moss to advertise them.