Saturday, August 6, 2011

From Modesty To Bare Nothings: Ditching the Undies Revolution Part: 3

By Miriam B. Medina

"What has been the fashion once will come into fashion again..." Japanese proverb

This is part 3 of a 4 part series examining the evolution of women's underwear and how underwear helped women express their sexual freedom throughout the sexual revolution. In part 2 we examined the dreary, dark beginnings of women's underwear. In this part, part 3, we explore the semi-sexual evolution of underwear that have provided the foundation for the sexy, erotic underwear that you often see today, and then we see what the sexual revolution did to forever free women to flaunt their bodies.

The Mid-way Point To Sexual Freedom

Brassieres (Bra)- Other than the corset that supported and pushed breasts upward, a bra-like device was patented in 1859. The name of the man who patented this device was Henry S. Lesher of Brooklyn, New York. Herminie Cadolle of France invented the first modern bra in 1889, which was a two-piece undergarment originally called the Corselet gorge. The lower part was for the waist and the upper part, which was held up by shoulder straps, supported the breasts. This was a prerequisite for full-busted women. Then in 1913, Mary Crosby, a 19-year-old New York socialite who had large breasts, worked with her maid to fashion a modern bra with two silk handkerchiefs, which she tied together with some pink ribbon and cord. Although women had worn brassiere-like garments in years past, hers was the first to be successfully marketed and widely adopted. Mary Phelps-Jacobs had her bra design patented under the patent title of Caresse Crosby. Since her product in its original design did not produce a need for it, she sold her patent rights to Warners for $1500. He, in turn, after making drastic changes to the bra, turned it into a valuation of fifteen million dollars. God bless Mary Phelps-Jacobs and the world of innovators.

During the 1920's, the flat-chested look to achieve a desired manly outline came in vogue. In order to keep breasts from bouncing around while dancing, young flappers with large breasts would bind them flat. They would also use a bra, called the Symington Side Lacer. This bra was made of fabric bands with straps on the side. When laced tightly it would flatten the bust. As long as they looked boyish, it was considered fashionable during that time.

Panties- The concept of panties was similar to bloomers, to cover up as much of the lower intimate part of women. America's social scene was changing at a rapid pace, especially in the 1920's. It was the decade of the appearance of the revolutionary Flapper girl, who joyously threw off the chains of societal restriction, demanding both sexual and personal freedom. She was the original free spirit. She smoked in public, lived on her own, voted, drank booze with the boys, danced, and bobbed her hair. She also wore cosmetics, painted her lips bright red, and went to wild petting parties where she was sexually promiscuous. She was the first real example of the modern woman, one who could do anything that the men could do. The Flapper defied all the rules of acceptable feminine behavior. During the 1920's, clothing was trimmed down and lightened, with hemlines of dresses and skirts shortened to below the knee to make movement easier. The revolutionary flapper demanded to be free. Symbolically ripping off her restrictive Victorian era garments she would let herself go, reveling in the new, energetic dances of the Jazz age. Shockingly, the flapper style hemline had been raised enough to show more of the legs. The legs were covered with stockings that were rolled down under the knee. These stockings came in shades of skin or sun tan, which made the legs look naked. For the young flappers, dancing became a favorite pastime. They had a fabulous time kicking their legs to the side and front and flapping their arms up and down to the fast beat of the energetic music. With all that activity, stockings kept falling until the invention of the garter belt solved the problem. The garter belt was a long girdle with snap on garters.

Meanwhile, designers continued to work fast, and furious, focusing on whatever else might peek out from under those hems. Women's bloomers became shorter, but that didn't help because they were looser and less supportive. Therefore, another type of underwear was created called "Step-ins," similar to modern panties but with wider legs and made with white material. Thanks to the sexual awareness of the flapper, sexier lingerie began making its way into the fashion mainstream. As the panty trend continued to evolve over the decades, changes in appearance varied with a more alluring style, which I will discuss in the following segment.

The Era of Sexual Freedom

The gradual evolution of sexual liberation, from the taboo and restraint associated with female bodies to semi-clad or complete nudity accepted today, indicates how normalized the sexual revolution has become. Despite denunciations from the pulpits and numerous protests from women's rights movements, morals have stayed relaxed, thus allowing this new way of thinking and doing things to be accepted by modern society. Television, advertising and fashion-designers have glorified sexuality. Since the fifties, American society has been inundated by sex in every manner. Even magazines like Playboy and Penthouse have won acceptance as mainstream journals.

Most people can become sexually aroused not only by what they feel, but also by what they see, hear, and smell. Just the smell of a seductive perfume, the sound of endearing words from a velvety voice, or the sight of a beautiful body can be strong stimulants.

For men and women, breasts, the most visible part of the female body, have a specific sexual meaning. How varied breasts are. They come in all colors, sizes and shapes. Preferences also vary. For some men, a flat chested partner is beautiful and seductive, while others find large pendulous breasts as sensuous and satisfying. However, to most men, the usual round and firm breasts are preferred.

Another part of the female body that is a "traffic stopper" is the buttock. Regardless of its size or shape, men will find a "butt" captivating, especially when it's voluptuously displayed in a pair of tight-fitting jeans, a thong, or any other sensuous piece of fabric.

So since, men have shown their appreciation for female breasts and buttocks, women have found out how to express their seductive charms, which no man can resist. Today's market is flooded with so many specialized types of body revealing lingerie. Some are meant to show the body and genital area, while others are meant to provide sexual stimulation. Companies such as Frederick's of Hollywood center their business on manufacturing and selling such underwear to seduce and fascinate men.

One thing about fashion is that it keeps changing constantly. Something that may be considered hot today will be replaced by something better tomorrow. Fashion never disappears, it's the same basic idea redesigned a few years later with a much more bold approach. Victorian age styles have been revived by fashion designers but with a modern twist. It's surprising how fashion designers still manage to establish some sort of modesty, even in erotic designs.

In the final part of this 4 part series, we will literally examine the exotic, erotic lingerie and underwear that women wear today. Bet you can't wait.

To be continued: Part 4

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