Your underwear is warning you that you live in a time of freedom

Women’s underwear, as we know it today, is surprisingly recent. Until well into the twentieth century, women had lived locked in the cage that gave structure to their skirts or oppressed by a suffocating corset. And, paradoxically, his life in society, lacking rights, it had the same effect as her most intimate garments. The turning point in the history of underwear began a hundred years ago, with the women’s suffrage movement, and does not appear to have culminated until today.

“Interior fashion evolves with society and with exterior fashion, if in the 20s you wore not having a chest or curves, surely there would be those who would wear reducing bands. The woman is going to adapt her underwear to how she wants her outerwear to fit “, explains Nuria Sarda, one of the women who knows the most about lingerie, having been born in one of the most emblematic firms in the sector. In 1962 her father, Andrés Sardá, took over the reins of the family mantilla business – Jacqueline Kannedy took one of them on a visit to the Vatican – when they were no longer mandatory in churches. Ahead of her time, the Barcelona man reused all the excess lace to create lingerie. In 2008, Nuria took over from her father in creative direction. “We have always addressed women, to make them feel good, since the 60s, when my father created the company. His mission was for the woman to find what gave her that morale boost. It is never addressed to the man, then she already does what she wants with her. Lingerie is almost like going to the hairdresser or getting perfume. Do you feel better. That has always been our philosophy ”. She tells us about the last feminist revolution that took hold three years ago.

With or without underwire, lace or cotton, and even under or over the shirt. Our relationship with underwear is more personal than ever.

© © Søren Jepsen / The Locals

As already happened with the suffragettes, as a result of the movement Me Too, emerged in October 2017, the trend in underwear has radically changed. The woman wanted not only to stop dressing for the man, but to do it without having to hide her flaws and loving her body as it is. It was then that minimized thongs and panties gave way to high-waisted models, lace was swapped for cotton, and underwire and padding disappeared. If in the feminist claims of 1968 bras were burned to demonstrate the disagreements with the tyranny of beauty canons, in 2019, the movement caused the fall of those that until now seemed unappealable: the parade of angels Victoria´s Secret.

However, the fact that lingerie has taken on simpler and more comfortable forms is more of a symbolic act than a feminist condition. Chimamanda Danger Adichie defends feminism as the freedom of choice to wear what a woman really wants, even if her wish is a lace ensemble: “If she likes makeup, let her put it on. If she likes fashion, let her dress up. And if she doesn’t like any of this, leave her alone. Do not think that educating in feminism means forcing to reject femininity. Feminism and femininity are not exclusive ”. The writer expressed in an interview with Racked: “I think it’s time to stop that stupid idea that somehow if you are a serious woman you cannot and should not worry about your appearance ”.

Despite the fact that Me Too has caused the demand for non-wired bras to grow, ecological awareness has pushed us to opt for natural fabrics and the months of confinement have made us prioritize comfort, there is another trend, just as strong, that seeks, again, sophistication. “At the moment we are experiencing a very strong change in all senses and reality also influences our way of acting. There are two inclinations, that of cotton and comfortable clothes, but as in everything, we do not always do the same. We don’t wear, for example, the same shoes for everything, and neither do our underwear. I’ve seen him with the swimsuits, with which people have wanted very much for joy, for summer, to get dressed, to buy a new swimsuit and enjoy. There is a time to be comfortable at home and a time to look pretty, to boost your morale and mood. The underwear that suits you has a very big pull ”, clarifies Nuria Sardá.

The model push-up by Wonderbra, which was unveiled in the campaign Hello Boys starring Eva Herzigova, revolutionized lingerie in the 90s and, therefore, the silhouette of women.

But women’s underwear has not only evolved with the role of women in society, it has also evolved with the economical crisis. And not exactly towards his most austere face, quite the opposite. In times of greatest need, abundance has been carried from within. It happened in 1947, when Dior, in the postwar period, he launched his famous collection New Look, a silhouette that, like all trends, needed internal support, in this case, a girdle that gave shape to the hourglass silhouette. The gulf crisis, in the 90s, he brought with him the Wonderbra and the campaign Hello Boys starring Eva Herzigova, one of the greatest revolutions in lingerie: “For me one of the most striking moments was the time of push-up because it was a brutal change. Previously it was all natural body, figure, and suddenly it was join the chest and raise it in a bestial way. It totally changed and it was widespread, everyone had to have that bra. The way we see the chest and the figure has changed ”, recalls Nuria Sardá, who has witnessed how lingerie has evolved with social changes. “In my father’s time they wore a type of panty-girdle, when women began to wear pants and you had to have a super tight figure, but your ass was crushed. So my father invented a girdle that had an opening so that it wouldn’t crush the ass and the figure would be more natural ”. It was the 60s and the woman had just entered the labor market.

In the 70s, these Andrés Sardá designs responded to the feminist trend that had freed itself from girdles and earrings.

© Courtesy of Andrés Sardá

Today, faced with a new crisis in which comfort seemed to prevail due to the proliferation of teleworking and the reduction of social plans, history repeats itself and the cotton of the iconic sets of Calvin Klein that are back in fashion, they do not seem to be enough for a woman who can finally choose what she wants to wear. “Underwear, besides being pretty, should help you, There are many types of bodies and some need supports. Maybe the person who did not need glasses before, now does not wear them but there are many people, for example, who do not have both breasts the same size, because they have undergone some type of operation or because their body is not symmetrical, we we make models in which you can remove the inner fillers to compensate for these differences. Underwear helps women also by being a bit cosmetic ”.

And, magically, for the first time in fashion history, we find ourselves in a period in which everything (absolutely everything) is carried away, and choosing a certain garment begins to be more a matter of personality than of trends. But how do we come to this conclusion if we can’t see it? Nuria Sardá gives us the best measurement trick: swimwear. “You can see very extreme panties, almost eighties, next to very high culottes. Currently the trend is that each one dress as they want, that there are no rules and that nobody has to tell you how you have to dress. At a certain moment you may want a spectacular and minimal garment or a spectacular and maximum one. And both are trending. And there are no impositions. People are fed up with so many rules and it has to do with the claim of individuality. You do not have to follow anyone to have a style, you claim your own style and personality of each one. Before, everyone had to go in a certain way, and half the population surely did not, but they had to wear it to be fashionable. And I believe that this has now been totally abolished. People have understood that the important thing is you and your personality and that what is worth it is to put yourself as you like to see yourself. There is a desire to feel good that always prevails ”.

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