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21 Victorian and Edwardian Corset Pinups

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Marianne had it right when she said back in 2014, that've for as long as there've been cameras, there've been people making boudoir art.

I love looking at vintage erotic photographs, not just because of my personal fascination with seeing people from the past, but also because it completely obliterates the notion that pornography or erotica or pinup is a modern invention. I think it's easy to forget that people in past eras were sexual beings just as much we today, and while the Victorian Era is often seen as "prudish," historians now know that Victorian ideas on sex and sexuality were not all that dissimilar to our own, especially in regards to mutual pleasure and satisfaction. We also know the Victorian Era had a thriving porn market; in fact, our modern conceptualization of pornography stems from the Victorians.

While these photos were likely intended to titillate when first produced (and I'm sure there are at least a few people out there who find them provocative even now), what I like most is how they show late 19th and early 20th century underpinnings on the body. While I would never assume these photos represent "typical" everyday Victorian underwear, they do offer a different and valuable perspective on the undergarment aesthetics of the era. It's fascinating to me that you can see the beginning of modern day lingerie traditions (such as lace trim on your underwear or a bow at the center of your bosom) on garments that no one wears anymore. The silhouettes may be different, but the language of lingerie is the same.

Do you have a favorite underfashion era? What do you love most about it?

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Cora Harrington

Founder and Editor in Chief of The Lingerie Addict. Author of In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie. I believe lingerie is fashion too, and that everyone who wants it deserves gorgeous lingerie.

9 Comments on this post

  1. I really like the not so subtle message of the woman holding a cat and smoking a cigarette en déshabille. Very racy.

  2. Snow says:

    Some of these pictures look , like they are from the book ” The French Postcards”
    Wich i have.

  3. Maria Gardner says:

    Do you know the designers name of any of the lingerie garments above, I am doing a project on victorian lingerie so it would be very helpful to know one of the designers names.

    Thank you.

  4. Love these photos. I’m loving the current era. Styles are more versatile and women can wear it freely in public

  5. Laura Ping says:

    What do you make of the cigarettes? Is it a reference to the New Woman or to a woman just being scandalous?

  6. Irene says:

    Maybe you already know this, but bloomers were open-crotched until the 20s or so, which makes them much racier, don’t you think? This was because of the long line of the corsets – imagine trying to get up under all that boning to pull down your bloomers to pee. Pretty much impossible, so… crotch, generally like two separate legs attached to the same waistband. :)

    • Jezebellydancer says:

      Exactly. My mom was an antique dealer and would sometimes get vintage clothing. I had bloomers that actually had a few buttons on the inseams. I sewed them up and worse them with a lace and cotton chemise out in public in the summer. It looked very boho.

  7. Avigayil says:

    The girl with the cat = priceless <3 Cats: decorating lingerie photos since time immemorial.

  8. Andre says:

    Great collection of old photos. Thanks for sharing.

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