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We tend to focus on the clothes, shoes, hair, and makeup trends of a particular time. However, what’s under the main look is just as exciting to study. Lingerie offers a glimpse into the style and attitudes of any given time.
Popular lingerie brands in the 1990s were:
- La Perla
- Calvin Klein
- Victoria’s Secret
- Agent Provocateur
They explored vintage and old-fashioned notions as well as modern minimalism.
Lingerie fashion in the 1990s showed an evolution from the high-cut, lace-covered, romantic glamour shots of the 80s. Monumentally, the ‘Victoria’s Secret’ show made its debut in 1995, bringing sexy lingerie to the mainstream stage.
What’s more, the Wonderbra was released in 1994, sparking the trend of lifted cleavage under tight Versace suits.
While animal print, lace, satin, and all things sexy were still very much the trend, so were minimal cotton briefs and soft tanks.
These are the most decade-defining lingerie trends of the 1990s.
1. The Wonderbra (push-up bra)
In 1994, the iconic “Wonderbra” “Hello Boys” marketing image was released (the brand has been around since the 1930s!). The best-selling push-up bra celebrated a high, supported chest with perfectly perky, rounded cleavage.
The girls were strapped in tight, lifted high, and ready turn heads under a cropped tank. Skip forward to now and we can already see a contrast with the popular bralettes and unstructured bras popular (for those lucky enough to be able to wear them!).
Lingerie bottoms in the early 90s were just as high-cut as they were in the 1980s, (but got lower toward the 00s with boy-leg styles).
Check out early-mid 1990s lingerie catalogs and find sexy briefs in high-shine satin with lace trim, high waists, and cut high at the hip. Matching bras were a given, as were lacy garters and suspender belts.
3. Simple cotton camisoles and cotton panties
Nicole Kidman in ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ wore a simple white cotton camisole and white cotton briefs. This simple look was popular in the 90s and went hand-in-hand with minimal fashion characterized by simple slips dresses with no bra and jeans with white tanks.
Calvin Klein was the master of minimal cotton underwear, with famous ads starring Mark Wahlberg and Kate Moss in cotton briefs and denim.
4. Garter belts and thigh-high stockings
Lingerie in the 1990s was sexy, especially due to the launching of Victoria’s Secret runway shows and supermodels as celebrities. Thigh-high stockings with garter belts and suspenders were popular, often in demure shades of white or classic navy.
Sophisticated lingerie with a hint of old-school sexiness was popularized when the burlesque world moved into the mainstream thanks to legend Dita Von Teese.
5. Animal Print
Animal print was as alive and kicking in the 1990s as it was in the 1980s. In the 1996 Victoria’s Secret runway show, Tyra Banks wore a bold green satin bra and panty set (high cut!). She wore a silky gown over the top, in a white and black animal print.
On the 1996 Victoria’s Secret catalog cover, Naomi Campbell wore a chemise with a black lace top and animal print skirt.
6. Silky nighties and dresses
Silky nighties worn as slip dresses were peak style in the 1990s. Even Princess Diana wore a navy and back silky lingerie-style dress to the 1996 Met Gala.
Girls would raid the thrift stores to find slinky nighties to wear over jeans (especially closer to the ‘00s) or with plaid flannel over the top.
7. Spandex shapewear
In the late 90s, the iconic shapewear Spanx was released, bringing shapewear to the masses. Shapewear went from corsets to seamless undergarments that smoothed the belly and thinned the thighs.
Celebrities admitted they wore tummy-sucking briefs under their red carpet gowns, and workwear became all the more streamlined. Fast-forward to today, and shapewear is even bigger thanks to Kim K.W herself.
8. Corsets and corset-style bodysuits
In the 1990s, corsets and corset bodysuits were popular, but not necessarily for slimming the body. Corsets were a style feature that represented a sexy and vintage aesthetic, seen in catalogs, on runways, and in bedrooms across the world.
What’s more, corsets (like nighties) were often worn as outerwear tops as seen in Vivienne Westwood and Jean Paul Gaultier shows. The most iconic corset top of the 1990s has to be Madonna’s cone bra corset costume by Jean Paul Gaultier she wore on tour in 1990.