It took centuries for women to start wearing panties. They used to be completely naked under their multitude of petticoats!!
It was not until the beginning of the 19th century that long, split panties gained the status of underwear and started to be worn by few women. In England, knee breeches, the father of panties, were reserved for girls’ gymnastic sessions, so that they would not reveal their private parts. It was only under the Second Empire that wearing panties became mandatory because of the hoop skirt that defined the beginning of a new fashion era. Petticoats offered European men their first glimpse of female legs, and the world became obsessed with what was under women’s skirts.
In the late 19th and early 20th century, breeches were wide, gathered at the waist with a wide-buttoned belt, decorated with ruffles or lace, and always split. But as fashion required panties to be shorter and shorter, so that they didn’t exceed the skirt’s lengt, designers eventually made closed culottes!!
In 1918, Étienne Valton, the son of a French underwear company’s founder and father of 13 children, decided to cut pants as we know them today. When he used his scissor cutting skills to offer his children more ease and freedom by cutting the long pants legs and replacing the buttons by an elastic waist and cuffs, he did not realize this undergarment would soon dress up all generations and become THE essential piece of clothing, as we know it today!
Petit Bateau panties were born. The revolution was underway, and “la culotte” imposed itself from the 20s!
First pink and white, women’s panties were black for respectable women until WWI. After 1940, they became a symbol of friskiness:-)
After the invention of Lycra in 1959, the lingerie industry made a great leap forward. But panties became truly iconic in 1955, when famous Marilyn Monroe unveiled them above an underground ventilation in the movie The Seven Year Itch.
Ever since, lingerie fashion designers have created them in all kinds of shapes, colours and fabrics for children, women and men!!