By Tim Lambert

4th century BC Greek women wear a form of bra called an apodesme

1st century AD Roman women wear a form of bra called an strophium of mamilare. They also wear a loincloth or shorts called a subligaculum.

Late 16th century Women wear corsets made of whalebone. They wear a frame of wire or whalebone under their dress called a farthingale.

18th Century Women do not usually wear knickers. Their only underwear is a long linen garment like a nightie worn under a dress called a chemise or shift.

c 1800 Women begin to wear drawers (so called because they are drawn on). They consist of a pair of separate legs joined at the waist. So we say a pair of knickers or panties.

1849 Amelia Bloomer advocates loose trousers for women called bloomers. Later women's underwear are sometimes called bloomers.

1860s Some women begin to wear colored drawers

1881 The word knickers is used to describe women's underwear in Britain

1900 Poor women make knickers from flour bags

1908 The word panties is used to describe women's underwear in the USA. However the word panties never catches on in Britain.

1910 Rayon (artificial silk) is used to make stockings

1913 Mary Phelps Jacob invents the modern bra

1920s Knickers become shorter, down to mid calf rather than down to the knee

1935 Nylon is invented

1939 Nylon stockings are first sold

1940s Knickers become still shorter and briefs are fashionable. During the Second World War women in Britain use parachute silk to make knickers.

1949 Gertrude Moran known as Gorgeous Gussie plays tennis at Wimbledon with frilly panties

1959 Tights (called pantyhose in the USA) are invented

1963 The wonderbra is invented in Canada

1974 The modern thong is designed

1990s Thongs become fashionable in Britain

A timeline of clothes

A timeline of cosmetics

A history of underwear