by Martha Whitney Butler
It’s that time of the month again! I mean, it’s that month again! It’s March. Spring is on the way, kites will be flying through the sky, flowers will be blooming and oh yeah- it’s also Women’s History Month. While sometimes overlooked, it’s never underdressed, for this is the time of year when our craving for style reaches an insatiable peak. We become flowers, budding and blooming, in our Easter dresses and darling spring outfits.
Women’s fashion has always been, and I assume will always be, an ever-changing event. A moveable feast of colors, cloths, and even constraints, fashion is often a testament to the times that allows us to gain insight on the daily lives of our historic heroines. While what we wear represents our personality, line of work, or sense of style, it is what we wear under the entire attire that best tells our story.
Did you know that women have been wearing bras for over six hundred years? Other types of torture devices have also made an appearance throughout women’s history. With the invention of corsets, women were able to cinch their waists and mutilate their bodies to fit into a fantastic array of heavily layered fabrics that became known as the dress. This process was very harmful and led to numerous miscarriages and dramatic fainting spells. Believe it or not, we still use them, perhaps not daily, but for special occasions.
Over the years, fashion changed and women began to show a little more skin, paving the way for loosely-fitting and more comfortable clothing. With the advent of the ankle came the necessary movement to cover it up in a discreet but still presentable manner. Once something unseen, silk stockings began to be boasted outside of the boudoir. Skirts began to get shorter and shorter and fringy flappers were forced to rethink their bulky bloomers. Nylon paved the way for tight and form-fitting undergarments and clothing followed suit. While some women still preferred the older more conservative styles, the younger generations refused to go back to the “granny panty”.
Underwear turned to outerwear for some as lingerie-clad women gained popularity in certain publications. At present, it sometimes looks as though some women have jumped from the pages of these magazines and are parading the streets as we speak. Most of the time, women are harboring some kind of satin secret whether it be a push-up bra or thong underwear. Currently, ladies are blessed with the miracle of Spanx, the existing garment of choice that has more comfortably replaced the corset.
It’s amazing to look back and see the evolution of the daring feats of fashion, but it is more important to question what provoked these changes. Did the changes in women’s rights have an effect on our undergarments? Certainly our fashions reflect political and social changes, but we still manage to maintain our femininity. As more and more women began to “wear the pants” in their households, I believe it is safe to say that we’re all still wearing the panties.