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Lingerie styles from the past: a peek at the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s


We can all breathe a sigh of relief that lingerie has come a long way from figure-shaping corsets and girdles!  Come to think of it, we can actually breathe because of that!  Thankfully, these days our undergarments are a lot more “wearable” so much so that we wear them during the day now! The slip (remember those?) that was once hidden under all skirts and dresses from the ’40s through the ’70s is faded into history… Mainly worn as a lining for draping, modesty, warmth, or to protect clothes, “slips” or chemises are now worn to bed or worn in public during the day or evening as a fashion statement.

The chemise, once worn under garments is now an outer garment (thank you Madonna), showing just how far lingerie has transitioned over the years. However, the transition may be more about how we think about our female bodies than about style, itself. Earlier examples of lingerie can be seen as either cloaking or sexual – a conflict of modesty and feminine allure – later transitioning into natural silhouettes and fabrics. 

Come along with us as we take a peek at the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s to see just how lingerie has changed from one decade to another…



Lingerie in the 1950s was sheer, flowing and high-waisted. The era embraced the peignoir set, the granny panty, and the bullet bra. Styles embraced the hour-glass figure of the day. Lingerie was glamorous and shapely. And the fabric of choice? Nylon! This inexpensive fabric had just started being produced in abundance in the ’50s, allowing for lower prices and more color choices. This enabled the era of ultra-feminine lingerie – once mainly black or white, lingerie could now come in a host of pretty colors.

50's collage

free elvis record.jpg


60's pink collection

The 1960’s transition from the glamourous and modest 1950s is revealed with higher hemlines, fabrics with more stretch (with the introduction of lycra) and printed fabrics. Shapewear is still important with lift and tucks still seen in bras and girdles, although bras start to become less pointy. The need for garters is no longer necessary with the rise of pantyhose. Fabrics now are introduced with fun prints that are often bursting with color and psychedelic patterns… in the words of Austin Powers “Yeah, baby!”



maidenform girdle 1961

sears 1969



By the time the 1970s arrived, women didn’t need to be in a chemise or a peignoir set to feel sexy.  The ruffles and fluff of the ’50s and ’60s are gone and clothes are becoming more comfortable. Pantyhose are built-in with “tummy control” so shapewear like girdles are left in the lingerie drawer. As women become more empowered, NOT wearing a bra becomes a symbol of their freedom as well as the times. Going braless or at least looking like you weren’t wearing a bra became popular.  Prints become more classic and “natural” fabrics like cotton become acceptable for use in designing lingerie.

free spirit bra.jpg



Lingerie of the 1980’s and 1990s is still in our drawers and our closets so we’ll wait a few years before we take a look back. Like all fashion and the women who wear it, lingerie will continue to evolve. We can’t wait to see what statements these iconic pieces make in the future!

See you in the next blog!

Deb Fries is a freelance designer and writer, she has worked with Julianna Rae in graphics and customer service.  She now writes lifestyle pieces for the blog at