Now on proud display at the V & A Museum, Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear, sponsored by the Rolls-Royce of lingerie Agent Provocateur, journeys through man (and woman) kind's relationship with our undies.

200 items of underwear are on display, from Victorian ''man corsets'' to ''butt-lifters'' designed to make one's derrière pop like Jennifer Lopez or Kim Kardashian, are all part of this wondrous exhibition.

Kim Kardashian ''waist-training'' Image via Kim Kardashian/ Instagram Kim Kardashian ''waist-training''
Image via Kim Kardashian/ Instagram

The display begins with the Georgian age, a time when men wore a double-pants ensemble, whilst women wore, well, no underwear at all. The typical Georgian man would wear a shirt, which went through his legs rather like a leotard, over his ''breech liners,'' what would later become underpants. The underwear was designed to prevent his clothes making contact with sweaty skin. Nice.

One of the earliest known pairs of underwear designed for women is on display, a pair of underpants worn by Queen Victoria’s mother, the duchess of Kent.

It is no secret that Victorian women, often with the help of their servants, hauled themselves into corsets in order to create the illusion of a nipped in waist, which was most desired by society. The exhibition includes frightful x-rays from 1908 that show a woman's ribs being crushed by the pressure of her corset.

Brixton Boyz, Jennie Baptiste, 2001. Museum no. E.971-2010. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London Brixton Boyz, Jennie Baptiste, 2001. Museum no. E.971-2010. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

George IV, was a known wearer of the ''male corset,'' used to straighten his spine and conceal his portly figure.

In the 19th century, the main function of underwear was hygiene. Brands such as Jaeger and Aertex created breathable fabrics, changing the consumer's needs and perceptions of underwear.

The brassiere came along during World War I, following fears that corsets squashed female reproductive organs. During the 20th century, the bra took on many shapes and sizes, from bandeaus worn by the flappers of the 1920's, designed to squash breasts, to the conical creations of the 1940's designed to compliment the idealised voluptuous figure.

Close Trompe l’oeil corset dress, designed by Antonio Berardi, Spring/Summer 2009, worn by Gwyneth Paltrow. Image via V & A Close Trompe l’oeil corset dress, designed by Antonio Berardi, Spring/Summer 2009, worn by Gwyneth Paltrow.
Image via V & A

Dita von Teese in maternity bra Image via She Knows Dita von Teese in a maternity bra
Image via She Knows

Contemporary pieces in the display include the ''waist trainer,'' which has brought the corset back in fashion thanks to the Insta-famous; Ellie Saab's underwear-as-outerwear creations; burlesque artist's Dita von Teese teeny-weeny corset and those Aussie Bum briefs with, ahem, a little padding.

Advertisement for AussieBum underwear: Live Without Doubt. Image via V&A Advertisement for AussieBum underwear: Live Without Doubt.
Image via V&A

Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear is at the Victoria and Albert Museum, until 12th March 2017. For more information, see here.

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