Shapewear Over the Years

Shapewear Over the Years

Shapewear has been a staple amongst women for more than a thousand years! The use of shapewear dates back to the ancient Greek and Roman era! However, despite being more than 100 years old, shapewear has always had a singular purpose-to enhance the silhouette of the female body.

Starting from the 1910s, today we’ll tell you about how shapewear has evolved over the years.


During this era, a corset made of either whale bones or steel was worn by women under their garments. Lace was used to tie the corset as tight as possible. Whalebones were sewn into the lining of the corset so as to mould and narrow the waists of the women who wore them. During this time, the ‘wasp waist’ was in fashion. By wearing these corsets, women could shrink their waists to 16”!

On November 3rd, 1914, a woman named Mary Jacobs Phelps successfully filed the first ever patent for the modern-day bra. The invention of bras completely changed the history of shapewear. Lightweight and boneless bandeaus were the new shapewear now. Corselettes also made an appearance during this time. The corselette was a shapewear that extended from the straps of the shoulders, down the female torso and ended around the top of the legs.

With the invention of elastic, corsets were now made of elastic and nylon. These corsets prioritized movement and were comparatively lighter in weight than the whale bone corsets of the 1910s.


Women now started wearing ‘girdles’. Extending from the waist to the thighs, this shapewear was made from ‘lastex’ which was a combination of latex thread and either cotton, rayon, silk or nylon.


The 1940s were the era of the ‘bullet bra’. These bras were deliberately made triangular in shape in order to make the nipples look more ‘pointy’.


The ‘bullet bra’ of the 1940s became even more pointy in the 1950s. The emphasis was now on an hourglass figure rather than a ‘wasp waist’. It was during this period that girdles went through a makeover. With the addition of strategic paneling, girdles now helped to flatten the stomach and exaggerate the bust of women.

1960s & 1970s

It was during this time that women started to adopt separates. Deviating from the usual girdles and corselettes, women started wearing bras and panty briefs. Shapewear now had a seamless look and was made from sheer and jersey fabrics with lace detailing.


Women started donning soft lace bodysuits during the 1980s. Celebrities such as Madonna, blurred the boundaries between outerwear and lingerie by wearing these garments for her performances.


The WonderBra was invented in the 1990s and helped women with small cleavage make their bust look bigger. Victoria’s Secret launched panties that had an elasticated waistband, giving shapewear a modern-day twist.


Sara Blakely launched ‘Spanx’ in the new millennium. Her nude-coloured elastic sculpting shapewear was quickly adopted by women across the globe. Speaking about ‘Spanx’, Sara said that it was ‘shapewear in disguise’.

2010s & 2020s 

The invention of Spanx revolutionized the shapewear industry! With globalization, came the understanding that women have different skin tones. A nude-coloured shapewear would not suit every woman. Owing to this, shapewear is now made in different colours-colours that suit every skin tone.

It’s amazing to see how shapewear evolved over these years.  Butt-Chique aims to take this shapewear revolution forward by crafting shapewear that is perfect for every body and everybody!