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Intimate past

Laura A. Ball
Laura A. Ball/Vail DailyBlack lace and pink leopard print chiffon chemise, Betsy Johnson, $72.95, Lacy's in Edwards.
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A very wise man once said that men found women sexy long before Victoria’s Secret. As accurate as the statement is, my father did not see his monthly credit card statement drop from the use of his four daughters.Why? Because women don’t wear lingerie for men. Women wear it for themselves. How often does your partner take the time to admire your lingerie? Exactly. In fact, a lot of men prefer plain skivvies. Good thing we’re not wearing it for their sake.

Underneath our clothes, where no one else can see, we know how it feels to wear a sultry silk camisole or an alluringly lacy g-string. A few pretty underthings go a long way for the soul.

Pain and comfortLingerie has come a long way from breath-defying corsets that bound the figure underneath clothes to bustier-inspired outerwear.As undergarments have evolved, women have moved away from the painful, dating back to ancient civilizations of Egypt and Greece when women wore corsets to support the breasts, to the luxurious and comfortable, as today’s underwear is functional and stylish.

A padded silhouette with a flat stomach, narrow waist and cone-shaped bust emerged in the 18th century. Corsets, a wardrobe essential, gave way to an impossibly unnatural shape, and it commonly caused women to faint as their internal organs were bound too tightly. Although painful, the artful corset, with the excessive use of satin, silk and damask trimmed with ribbons and lace, dominated the shape of women well into the 19th century as well. Crinolines and bustles were added to the s-shape, forcing women to sit at the very edge of the chair. And the knickers, camisole and waist slip, women wore about 5 pounds of underwear all together.It wasn’t until the 20th century that women shed layers of complexity from their wardrobes when a flexible girdle and a modern bra replaced the corset. Around 1910, women revolted against exagerated female figure and embraced the boyish silhouette – no waist, no hips, no bottom.

Feminity returned in the 1930s following the depression and so did the corset, again emphasizing the bust. Panties grew smaller and smaller taking the shape of a bikini brief.Free at last

Free to express themselves and no longer willing to keep their best-kept secret to themselves, women now wear the “straight-laced” bustier and rigid camisoles as outerwear. Gorgeous lingerie-inspired tops are worn underneath blazers and cardigans at the office and revealed as night falls, allowing our beautiful undergarments a little more time in the spotlight.

Staff Writer Laura A. Ball can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14641, or laball@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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