The 10 Biggest Lingerie Trends of the Last Decade

Chantal Thomass. Bodysuit with sheer thigh high stockings. French lingerie.

Chantal Thomass

While every generation has its major fashion moments, the past decade has seen some of the most exciting lingerie trends to ever happen in fashion history. Yet, beneath all that flash and glamour, what’s most interesting is how familiar many of these trends are. Yes, they’ve been reworked a bit and adapted to fit the sensibilities of a modern audience, but as the saying goes, “Everything old eventually becomes new again.”

La Perla. Sheer bodysuit with applique. Worn with trousers for lingerie as outerwear.

La Perla

Perhaps that’s because lingerie is meant to be, first and foremost, functional attire. While many people, especially in the United States, think of lingerie as only as the sexy stuff (bedroom attire, so to speak), the word “lingerie” describes the entire world of women’s intimate apparel, from bras and panties, to slips and chemises, to teddies, bodysuits and shapewear. It’s all lingerie. And, very often, one’s lingerie is meant to serve a purpose.



Harlow and Fox. Luxury, embroidered bridal lingerie with blush silk for full busts.

Harlow and Fox

Whether that purpose is lifting the bust, shaping the waist, or covering the legs, lingerie has a job to do, and that job affects how it looks. After all, there are only so many changes one can make to a bra before it stops being a bra. For me, this immutability is one of the most intriguing and extraordinary things about lingerie. What keeps me obsessed, what keeps me interested, is how there’s always a new, undiscovered detail to explore.

Uye Surana. Peach silk bralette. Black model with braids/natural hair.

Uye Surana

However, that lingering sense of familiarity doesn’t mean lingerie must be boring. There’s a range of possibility, even within the classic shapes. That multitude of interpretation is the core essence of lingerie. A bra can look so many different ways: plain, strappy, embellished, embroidered, lacy, minimalist, sheer, sporty, and so on. Yet, it’s always recognizable as a bra.

Kayleigh Peddie. Fishnet stockings and lace-up mesh and opaque bodysuit.

Kayleigh Peddie

I’ve been doing a lot of intense thinking about lingerie these past few weeks, and I thought it might be fun to put together a list of the top lingerie trends of the past decade. Many of these you’ll know. Some of these you may even love. But every single one of these trends made its mark.

More than that, these trends show us the history of lingerie, and how ideas about our intimate apparel eventually percolate upwards from smaller brands to larger ones. Connecting these trends (you’ll notice that several of them overlap in the selected items below) helps us understand more about the world we live in – what’s in fashion, how we think of people’s bodies, and what the cultural ideal for a certain era is.

Scantilly by Curvy Kate. Full bust redhead model in purple lingerie and stockings.

Scantilly by Curvy Kate

Yesterday, today, and tomorrow (or at least until 3-d printing takes off!) lingerie remains the essence of a fashionable wardrobe. What do you think the next big trend will be? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter.

 

Athleisure

America has always been a little casual. Sportswear is the U.S. fashion industry’s primary contribution to the global apparel trade and in the last few years, American lingerie designers have perfected it with the athleisure trend – athletic wear that goes beyond the gym and works perfectly well as everyday attire.

Think sports bras, leggings, jumpsuits, and yoga pants, often with details made to be seen, such as mesh insets, bright “pops” of color, or cutaway patterns. Athleisure not only connects with consumers’ desire for comfort and practicality, but also for a good deal. After all, what’s better than an outfit that does double duty for both drinks and the gym?

VPL. Lingerie Trends - Athleisure.

VPL

Ivy Park. Lingerie Trends - Athleisure. Beyonce activewear bodysuit.

Ivy Park

Michi. Lingerie Trends - Athleisure. Cutaway sports bra and leggings.

Michi

Bralettes

While the bralette may be a new trend, at least for modern-day lingerie addicts, there’s nothing new about the bralette itself. In fact, the very first bras, going back as far as Caresse Crosby’s handkerchief-inspired invention, would be called bralettes today.

A bralette is a soft, unstructured, lightly-lined or unlined, wirefree bra. While they’re often criticized for not giving enough support, bralettes aren’t meant to be supportive by design. Underwires, extensive shaping, molded cups, push-up padding…all of that would transform a bralette into a different type of undergarment.

Kestos. Vintage Lingerie Trends - Bralettes

Kestos

Bralettes are a natural offshoot of two particular trends in the larger fashion industry: 1) a trend towards casualness (which makes bralettes an outgrowth of the athleisure trend) and 2) customer demand for less expensive bras (bralettes are cheaper to both design and produce, which makes them cheaper to sell). The modern-day bralette trend first started with indie designers.

Many indie designers made bralettes either because they were more cost-effective or because they were a better fit for their sewing skills than underwires. As celebrities and influencers began buying bralettes, often to wear to various festivals or other events, larger brands and retailers picked up on the trend, leading to a resurrection of the bralette that we haven’t seen since the “no bra” look of the 1970s (which, perhaps unsurprisingly, required a bra).

Princesse Tam-Tam. Lingerie Trends - Bralette. Red lace bra and high waisted knicker. Behati Prinsloo.

Princesse Tam-Tam

Alexandrea Anissa. Lingerie Trends - Bralette. Plus size black lingerie. Lace trimmed bralette and high waist briefs.

Alexandrea Anissa

Stella McCartney. Lingerie Trends - Bralette. Leopard print lingerie.

Stella McCartney

Bondage, Harness, and Strappy Details

Like bralettes, bondage-inspired lingerie first took off among indie designers. However, also like bralettes, it’s not a new trend. Leather, harnesses, belts, corset-lacing and a proliferation of straps have appeared in fetish attire and erotica for the last century, a reminder, of course, that this generation isn’t the first to get a little kinky.

Diana Slip, 1920s/30s. Vintage Lingerie Trends - Strappy, Erotica, Boudoir

Diana Slip, 1920s/30s

This particular lingerie trend owes a lot to two groups that are often ignored by the lingerie industry: sex workers and LGBTQ people (and, of course, those who happen to be both). Many of the silhouettes taken for granted today have their origins in the underground subcultures of 50 or 60 years ago.

Damaris. Lingerie Trends - Strappy. Corset back knickers and gold heels. Sexy lingerie.

Damaris

Damaris was one the first to bring the strappy aesthetic to the mainstream with her corset knicker which debuted in 2001. However, this trend didn’t really take off until Karolina Laskowska’s Pentagram Playsuit in 2011. The design went viral, selling out repeatedly, and, more importantly for the industry, appearing in trend reports everywhere. Suddenly, harnesses, frame bras and strappy playsuits were everywhere.  A few extra straps were also an easy way to update a basic bra or bralette, distinguishing it from similar products.

Karolina Laskowska. Lingerie Trends - Strappy, Bondage, Harness. Pentagram thong playsuit.

Karolina Laskowska

Bordelle. Lingerie Trends - Strappy, Bondage. Black strappy girdle dress or corselette with black leg garters.

Bordelle

Notably, Bordelle was one of the first to build an entire brand on this aesthetic; their trademark lingerie made entirely from straps differentiated them from any other designer at the time. Now strappy styles are everywhere, and even brands that would be loathe to have their name associated with kink or BDSM are whole-heartedly embracing the look.

Creepy Yeha. Lingerie Trends - Strappy, Bondage, Harness. Red leather bra and skirt; stockings with red tops and roses. Red leather collar.

Creepy Yeha

Agent Provocateur. Lingerie Trends - Strappy. Lace bodysuit with cutaway front and nippe pasties. Luxury lingerie.

Agent Provocateur

Lonely Lingerie. Lingerie Trends - Strappy. Navy blue lace bralette with matching high waist panties.

Lonely Lingerie

Lace Appliqué and Embroidery

Similar to the bondage trend, today’s lace applique trend has its start among sex workers, specifically burlesque dancers, working around nudity laws in various states.

Tempest Storm. Vintage Burlesque Lingerie.

Tempest Storm

However, in its current iteration, the vanguard of the lace applique look was Fleur of England. Fleur of England’s concept of appliqueing delicate lace directly onto equally delicate mesh (sparking another related trend incorporating illusion tulle) was radical at the time. Textural, three-dimensional, and a strong department from the prints and padding that were popular when she debuted this look, like all good ideas, it’s since been endlessly copied.

Fleur of England. Lingerie Trends - Lace Applique. Bridal Lingerie. Tulle lace bralette and briefs with guipure lace applique.

Fleur of England

Recently, other, more accessible variations, that rely on applique but offer a bit more support have debuted in the market. To be honest, this is a trend I don’t see going anywhere anytime soon.

SJ Lingerie. Lingerie Trends - Lace Applique. Tulle briefs with black lace applique.

SJ Lingerie

Cristina Aielli. Lingerie Trends - Lace Applique. Tulle lingerie. Nude illusion. Luxury.

Cristina Aielli

Agent Provocateur. Lingerie Trends - Lace Applique. Black tulle bra, knicker, and garter belt with black stockings.

Agent Provocateur

Bodysuits, Rompers, and Teddies

Who could have predicted the return of the one-piece? Bodysuits, rompers, and teddies have all made a comeback, both as loungewear and as outerwear. Even jumpsuits, catsuits, and footed pajamas feel relevant again with the all-in-one comfort of the, well, all-in-one. One of earliest memories of this trend is Agent Provocateur’s Maschina bodysuits, featuring barbed wire against a sheer tulle background – quite unique and unusual for the time.

Agent Provocateur Maschina Autumn/Winter 2008. Barbed wire tulle.

Agent Provocateur Maschina A/W 2008

Recently, some designers have moved beyond the basic bodysuit into more experimental or avant-garde designs. While in the past, bodysuits were more focused on replacing tops (that is, many bodysuits were often made to look like blouses or t-shirts), today’s bodysuits are meant to be seen and appreciated on their own.

Tisja Damen. Lingerie Trends - Jumpsuits, Catsuits, Bodysuits. Patchwork black lace bodysuit.

Tisja Damen

Edge O' Beyond. Lingerie Trends - Jumpsuits, Catsuits, Bodysuits. Strappy tulle bodysuit with lace appliques.

Edge O’ Beyond

Fleur du Mal. Lingerie Trends - Jumpsuits, Catsuits, Bodysuits. Full body lace catsuit with wide corset belt.

Fleur du Mal

High Neck Bras

Unlike some of the other trends on this list, it’s a little harder to pinpoint when the high-necked bras trend began. I’m inclined to believe it started off with racerback bras (especially racerbacks with fancy details like lace inserts) or with brands making beautiful bra straps (such as those covered in fabric or lace) that you wouldn’t mind showing off. From there, it wasn’t much of a leap for brands to start putting those details on the front of bras.

Else Lingerie. Lingerie Trends - High Necked Bras. Black silk bra and brief with lace trm. Sheer stockings.

Else Lingerie

For Love and Lemons. Lingerie Trends - High Necked Bras. Sheer tulle halterneck bra with lace overlay.

For Love and Lemons

Karolina Laskowska. Lingerie Trends - High Necked Bras. French lace halter neck bra, lace tap shorts.

Karolina Laskowska

Nude Lingerie for All Skintones

Obviously, no one’s skin color is a trend. However, the transformation the lingerie industry has undergone in the last couple of years regarding this product category is astounding. I’d venture to say it’s a complete reshaping of the way the industry in general thinks about nude lingerie – not a small thing for market sector that’s historically (and currently) rather conservative.

Nubian Skin. Lingerie Trends - Nude Lingerie for All, WOC.

Nubian Skin.

While one brand is largely responsible for this shift, Nubian Skin, a number of other brands, including mass market heavyweights, have recently ventured into this space, proving this was a product category that was long overdue.

However, Nubian Skin was not the first band to try and tart the nude revolution. Companies like MySkins, TrueIntimates, and even Marks & Spencer made attempts before. However, Nubian Skin had the power of social media on their side, as well as a stellar marketing campaign. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Jockey. Lingerie Trends - Nude Lingerie for All, WOC. Lingerie for every skintone.

Jockey

Target. Lingerie Trends - Nude Lingerie for All, WOC. Lingerie for every skintone.

Target

ThirdLove. Lingerie Trends - Nude Lingerie for All, WOC. Lingerie for every skintone.

ThirdLove

More Size Options for Plus Size and Full Bust Consumers

As with nude lingerie, I think it’s important to acknowledge that being a certain size isn’t a trend. However I’m including this category here because, also like nude lingerie, what’s happening now represents a fundamental shift in how the lingerie views people outside of core sizes (roughly defined as 32-36 B-D).

Hips & Curves. Lingerie Trends - Plus Size. Strappy burgundy/wine-colored bralette with plain briefs and brown thigh high stockings.

Hips & Curves

While there is certainly more work to be done, especially with regards to plus sizes beyond an 18/20 and bra sizes beyond an H cup (and especially inclusion of models who wear these sizes in ad campaigns), what’s in the marketplace today is leaps and bounds better than what was available a decade ago – in terms of choice, quality, awareness and access (the last two largely thanks to lingerie bloggers and online retailers).

Lane Bryant. Lingerie Trends - Plus Size. Model Marquita Pring in sheer mesh black bra with white embroidery. Black and white fashion photography.

Lane Bryant

Ashley Graham for Addition Elle. Lingerie Trends - Plus Size. Supermodel in strappy demi cup bra with plain briefs and faux fur wrap. Boudoir Canadian lingerie brands.

Ashley Graham for Addition Elle

Georgina Horne for Playful Promises. Lingerie Trends - Plus Size. Blogger Fuller Figure, Fuller Bust in Blue satin lingerie set with blue rope and black thigh highs in pinup style.

Georgina Horne for Playful Promises

Ultra-Luxurious Loungewear

After the recession of 2008, it almost felt like luxury lingerie had been dealt a fatal blow. Many high-end labels disappeared. While fast fashion’s market share increased, many customers, by and large, just didn’t seem to understand “the point” of luxury lingerie. Recently though, we’ve seen a rebounding in the luxury space with most of the new brands all specializing in one thing – loungewear.

Carine Gilson. Lingerie Trends - Luxury Loungewear. Sky blue/celadon silk robe with inset lace and lace applique.

Carine Gilson

From a business perspective, this makes a lot sense. Loungewear is easier to design and construct than bras. The items tend to be more shape-flexible (if not size-flexible), and people are often more inclined to splurge on a pair of gorgeous silk pajamas or a robe over and panty set – the idea being that they can wear it a for years. And then there’s the show off value.

Very often, at least in America, there’s this underlying idea you shouldn’t spend much on your underwear because no one sees it. However, that doesn’t quite apply to loungewear. Some loungewear can even double as outerwear (a nod to the athleisure trend)!

The best loungewear lines today focus on gorgeous silks and beautiful, custom made prints. A resurgence in silk gowns that also work as dresses (a throwback to the 90s) is also underpinning (no pun intended) this new trend.

Olivia Von Halle. Lingerie Trends - Luxury Loungewear. Jade green silk floral print pajamas and robe.

Olivia Von Halle

Meng. Lingerie Trends - Luxury Loungewear. Pearl colored silk kimono style robe with floral butterly print.

Meng

Rosamosario. Lingerie Trends - Luxury Loungewear. Silk caftan style robe in toffee with black lace trim.

Rosamosario

Corsetry and Shapewear

Corsetry is the kind of trend that pops up once every few years. Waist trainers or fajas were all the rage a few years ago, resulting in dozens of brands coming out with their own, usually bland, versions. And, of course, one can’t discuss shapewear without speaking about Spanx, which has emerged over the last decade or so to become America’s definitive shapewear brand.

Simone Perele. Lingerie Trends - Corsetry. White bustier with black lace overlay. French lingerie.

Simone Perele

That said, the trend for waist trainers led to a resurgent interest in corsets and tightlacing…which has recently led to the popularity of bustiers and corset belts again.

What Katie Did. Lingerie Trends - Corsetry. Short black waist cincher/corset with matching black retro bra, panty, and garter set.

What Katie Did

Chromat. Lingerie Trends - Corsetry. Architectural-inspired frame bustier worn over a white sweater dress with black stockings.

Chromat

Threnody in Velvet/Iberian Black Arts for Wyte Phanton. Lingerie Trends - Corsetry. Red corset with sweetheart neckline and heart cutaway at bust with red garters and fawn stockings.

Threnody in Velvet/Iberian Black Arts for Wyte Phanton

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Mad Mimi Form

Cora Harrington

Founder and Editor in Chief of The Lingerie Addict. I started TLA in a small studio apartment in 2008. Since then, it's become the leading lingerie blog in the world, and has been featured on the websites for Forbes, CNN, Time, Today, and Fox News. I believe lingerie is fashion too, and that every who wants it deserves gorgeous lingerie.

11 Comments on this post

  1. Vanessa V says:

    Such a great roundup! You’ve got me googling lingerie history now haha.

  2. Thursday says:

    Great read Cora! Some of these trends have certainly reached saturation and I won’t be sad to see them go – which is not something I thought I’d say about strappy/bondage themed lingerie several years ago! I think the resurgence in the popularity of burlesque has also influenced a number of these trends beyond just the lace applique (surface embellishment, frothy loungewear, corsetry and the pin-up aesthetic) .

  3. […] Harrington of The Lingerie Addict lists the most influential lingerie trends of the last decade – I adore lingerie and am working on a way to include it as a blog topic here. I think […]

  4. Great round-up! I love the fact we’re seeing the multiple skin tones (still more work to go here imo) and the proliferation of cute lingerie and bras for bigger cups as well as plus-size has been so helpful (I’d like to see more of these options in wireless though). Athleisure has been big here too, in general. I see a lot of people wearing yoga pants or athletic wear for errands and weekends, and my sports bra requests have gone up by about 20%.

    • Cora says:

      What do you think is keeping brands from expanding into more wirefree options? Is it the construction/design/manufacturing dilemma or a lack of demand?

      • That’s a great question. Demand for wireless seems to be lower than wired, but I also think there’s a tension between what brands can produce in which sizes and what prices. Sometimes it’s an issue that a brand has a phenomenal wireless option but it’s only A-DDD or maybe it’s $60+. There’s a whole lot to be said on this topic as I know myself, as well as many other fitters, are constantly dealing with unrealistic expectations (I had one lady wearing a UK 36J want a wireless, molded cup bra for under $40) from wireless customers. However, in their defense, quite a few companies used to offer more fashion. Eveden always had at least one new fashion color for their wireless bras in Elomi and Goddess per season. The last two years they have not only cut back on the styles as a whole but have also dropped down to only beige/black . . . and in some cases only beige. Except it’s Eveden, so they don’t call it beige. They call it “nude.” This industry has a long way to go . . .

  5. lia says:

    Really neat article Cora! I enjoyed it a ton.

  6. anonymouse says:

    And if you want the super glamorous luxury lounge wear, you can’t not think of Catherine D’Lish’s astonishingly beautiful dressing gowns (Von Teese is a huge fan, to no surprise).

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