The History of French Lingerie

The history of French lingerie | Paris Attitude

Fashion designers, haute couture, birthplace of clothing trends and artisans with unrivaled expertise, Paris is considered around the world to be the capital of fashion. Paris Attitude offers you a brief overview of an industry that has been a part of women’s daily lives for centuries, and that has continuously evolved in accordance with eras and customs.


Did you know that French lingerie is also known throughout the world?

Present in the lives of women since antiquity, lingerie has continuously evolved over the centuries, especially with regard to its shape.In Ancient Rome,“body linen” (as lingerie was previously called) was a simple strip of fabric meant to flatten out the breasts. The Middle Ages gave way to the corset, a true straightjacket that imprisoned women’s bodies and was not without health consequences: deformity of the rib cage, difficulties breathing… The centuries passed and underwear evolved. At the beginning of the 19th century, the corset took the shape of an S, highlighting the female body, but aesthetics and practicality did not yet go hand in hand.

Lingerie | Paris Attitude

Credit Gilles Berquet

Lingerie experienced a genuine evolution during the Second World War. While men were off at the front, women had to replace them in factories or in the fields, and needed comfortable underwear that wouldn’t impede their actions. The girdle, used to cover shapes, appeared in the 30s. Then in the 50s, lingerie became sexier: bustiers, garter belts, even bras finally experienced some success, emphasizing the female bosom. Designer Christian Dior noticed women’s needs to reconnect with their femininity; with his New Lookstyle, he offered plunging and slightly cone-shaped bras, a true clothing revolution for the era.

Dior Lingerie | Paris Attitude

New materials emerged, such as lycra in the 60s, (then chiffon, lace, stretch fabric, silk, and fishnet) that combined aesthetics with comfort, while new technologies allowed for more appealing undergarments. Lingerie became a true asset of seduction!

Lingerie 60s | Paris Attitude

Credit Gilles Berquet

In recent years, trends have intermingled, even bringing shapes from the past back into contemporary designs. Many French designers have taken hold of lingerie and made it an object of genuine couture, namely designer Chantal Thomass (whose collections are inspired by a “boudoir” ambiance) and the Cadolle fashion house, in existence since 1889, a genuine institution in the domain of French lingerie. The fashion house offers a few ready-to-wear models, but mainly custom pieces (€600-€1,500 for a bra, up to €5,000 for an haute couture bustier).

Boutique Cadolle – 4 rue Cambon, 75001, Paris
Cadolle Couture – 255 rue Saint-honoré, 75001, Paris
Boutique Chantal Thomass – 211 rue Saint-honoré, 75001, Paris

Lingerie advertisements | Paris Attitude

Credit Gilles Berquet

The EiFfel Tower, a genuine iron lady!
Did you know? When the Eiffel Tower made its appearance in 1900, Parisians thought the building looked like a woman’s leg in fishnet stockings, and theEiffel Tower’s 4 “feet” resembled garter belt clips. Legend has it that Gustave Eiffel, inventor of the famous tower, had been in the habit of joking around about his wife’s stockings, saying they “corkscrewed” down her legs in an inelegant way. So she challenged him to develop a strategy that would prevent them from falling down…and that is how the garter belt was born!While it is amusing, the story is completely false.

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