Humans come in a variety of shapes and sizes – they always have, and they always will. Certain lingerie fads attempted to disguise or suppress a woman’s natural shape, while others were primarily a means of support. Greek women have been portrayed wearing crossed bands on their breasts and linens wrapped around their waists and lower torso for support. Plus size lingerie was pretty easy back in the day – though doubtfully all that supportive and not nearly as comfortable or beautiful as can be found now. Bodices originally made of bone and seen on Minoan women from the island of Crete displayed women’s breasts and emphasized their role as life-givers and mothers. That sort of political statement would have been at the least drafty and not remotely protective of tender body parts.
Medieval Europe was an era of sexual repression and appeared to actually take a step back for plus size lingerie or anything remotely resembling women’s fashion. The chemise was worn underneath the outer garment – a shapeless tunic to provide warmth and protect the outer garment from bodily secretions and odors. There was no emphasis on a woman’s shape and nothing very flattering about their clothes. Being warm was very much a priority, and laundry was much more difficult back then. Bathing was considered a luxury. Hauling buckets of water and heating it over the fire to fill a tub has a zero-level of appeal. Progress is a wonderful thing, though today’s bras, corsets, bustiers, and garters still generally need to be washed by hand.
The corset appeared in the Middle Ages as clothing became more tailored and attempted to enhance the body’s appearance. There was a revived interest in female curves and the aspired-to hourglass shape. Corsets were constructed with whalebone or steel and were very difficult to get into; women required assistance to get dressed, and the ideal was a 15”-17” waist. Plus size lingerie wasn’t in the picture at all here. Women often fainted because they couldn’t breathe in the tight confines of their underwear. Many doctors blamed corsets for miscarriages and malformations, but the idea that women should suffer for fashion was ingrained in many, and corsets continued to be worn. Corsets were the centerpiece of intimate apparel in the late sixteenth century.
The nineteenth century was more progressive. Corsets became smaller and less rigid after the introduction of elastic. Plus size lingerie became a lot easier at that time. A front closure system allowed women to get dressed without help, and stockings started to be attached to the corset with a garter belt. Shorter drawers became part of women’s wardrobes, and color and silk were added to give a hint of sensuality to women’s underwear.
The twentieth and twenty-first centuries revolutionized underwear. Women became much more active; they work, play sports, and require more practical undergarments. Differences in the female figure are embraced. Plus size lingerie is specifically tailored for curvy women. Nowadays the corset is more of a suggestion; they are beautifully designed, comfortable, and supportive without being overly restrictive. Corsets feature prominently in costumes and bedroom fashions. Female sexuality is embraced, and there is now something for everyone.
This guest post was written by Anya Strefeler, on behalf of Curvy Couture, offering bras of sizes to enhance and support your natural curves. To know about sports bras, you may visit About.com