You are here - Sports Shoes - Swim Suits - General Shoes- Designer Perfume - Earrings - Engagement Rings - Sunglasses - Xmas Gifts - Wedding Favours - Online Shopping - Champagne - Wine - Charms - Chocolate - Lingerie - Underwear - Diamonds - Necklaces - Wedding Rings - Online Gifts - Guitars
Lingerie and underwear in the UK. This section is a definitive guide to lingerie on the web. Lingerie is big business in UK, whether it’s in big departments stores such as Selfridges, little boutiques like the ones which are dotted around London’s Notting Hill, or the rising ranks of British designers such as FrostFrench and Damaris Evans, whose big break came when her underwear was featured on Sex and the City. Surprisingly enough, British women are reported to lead Europe in terms of spending on their smalls. As yet, the biggest proportion of that money goes on cheap lingerie, but the signs are that the Brits are becoming gradually more adventurous and refined in their underwear tastes. Even that bastion of Britishness, Marks and Spencers, has employed the likes of Agent Provocateur and Collette Dinnigan to spice up its smalls.
Lingerie, originally from the French word for linen, now comes in all sorts of sexy styles, colours and materials. So you have come to the right place to help you tell your bustiers from your teddies (not the cute and fluffy variety, but also found in the bedroom) and your plain, white, cotton pants from your red, PVC thongs. See the online Lingerie Guide for a rundown on the different styles available and the Glossary for terms used.
Underwear has changed over the years to reflect fashions in women's shapes. In the Victorian era, women wore tightly-laced corsets to give them hourglass figures with tiny waists, whereas as in the 1920s women had to strap down their bust to give them a boyish figure. Curves came back into fashion in the 1950s when Marilyn Monroe was considered the ultimate symbol. Twiggy and the 1960s brought back the waiflike look which became popular again the 1990s.
Lingerie in the UK represents the hidden and intimate - corsets are representative of the repressions of the Victorian era when women did not have their freedom, these days they have a fetish appeal. In the 1960s women were supposed to burn their bras as a symbol of sisterhood and freeing themselves from repression, whereas in the 21st century women enjoy wearing sexy lingerie to spice up their relationships and boost their confidence. See the Buying Lingerie for Yourself page for advice on buying and wearing lingerie; the Bra-Measuring Guide, and the Size Charts can help you work out what size you are.
The habit of wearing knickers began after 1800, originally these were adapted from men's trousers to keep out the cold. The word 'knickers' is an abbreviation of 'knickerbockers': trousers which are fastened at the knees. However, underwear has come a long way since then so browse through the site to get some tips on buying lingerie online. Lingerie makes a good gift from a lover; look at the buying lingerie gifts section. Good online lingerie stores are listed in the Directory.
‘Even the professionally unconcerned must be aware that what goes on underneath the A-line is of fundamental importance’ proclaimed Alison Adburgham on the subject of lingerie in a 1957 edition of Punch magazine. And never a truer word, more or less, has been written. The inner workings of female undergarments have been a source of fascination to women (and let's face it; men) since the first pair of briefs was sported by a Sumerian servant girl in 3000BC.
However, lingerie has come a long way since then. From farthingales to stockinettes, whalebone corsets to Wonderbras; underwear has in turn been shaped by, and shaped, fashion for as long as history can remember. The fiercest period of change for lingerie was the twentieth century. In 1900 the well-dressed lady would underlay her fitted linen suit with a striped nainsook petticoat, a sleeveless one-piece bodice and an ankle-length flared skirt. In the 1920s breasts virtually disappeared, but by the 1950s fashion had performed a spectacular U-Turn and pointy generous Jane Russell-esque bosoms (created by bras which were not so much a work of art as a work of architecture) were all the rage.
Seventies underwear, unlike seventies moustaches, got smaller and smaller as the decade progressed and moulding was invented. As for the sixties, no one could remember what they had been wearing. In the eighties (the decade that fashion forgot) lingerie got off lightly; with stretch-satin front opening bras, matching panties, silk camiknickers and nylon camisoles all becoming popular.
With advances in fabric technology, and a loosening of social taboos on revealing the female form, women have become increasingly ready to use their underwear as outerwear. For proof we need to look no further than Vivienne Westwood and Madonna's scary 'Vogue' corsets, and more recently Demi Moore's haute couture bra and so-low-it’s-almost-no dress. Now that's progress. However, there are still limits to how far you can go; as Janet Jackson inadvertently found out the hard way.
Nineties fashion was in many ways a reaction to the hard lines and capitalist ethic of the eighties; softer, freer, sexier and underwear was no exception. The frills and thrills of lingerie pioneers such as Agent Provocateur have changed the way we think about underwear. In the new millennium underwear carries on the theme. Drawing from past but liberated by the present, good underwear is sexy art: something you could hang on your wall just as much as wear.