A Look at Women’s Underwear through the Ages, with a Focus on 1938’s Ups Underwear



The history of women’s underwear is a fascinating journey that reflects not only changes in fashion but also shifts in societal norms, comfort, and empowerment. From corsets that are confined to bras that are liberated, each era has brought about a transformation that resonates ups underwear for women with the spirit of its time. In this article, we delve into the world of women’s underwear, with a special focus on “Ups” underwear in 1938.

The Evolution of Women’s Underwear

  1. 19th Century Corsets and Petticoats: The 1800s were characterized by the dominance of corsets and heavy petticoats. Corsets, while shaping the figure to the idealized silhouette, often came at the cost of women’s comfort and health. The suffocating constriction was symbolic of the societal constraints placed on women.
  2. Early 20th Century: Liberation and Bloomers: As the 20th century dawned, the suffragette movement gained momentum, and so did the desire for more practical and comfortable underwear. This era saw the introduction of bloomers and camisoles, reflecting the growing calls for women’s freedom and a more active lifestyle.
  3. 1920s Flappers and Boyish Charm: The 1920s marked a seismic shift in fashion and attitude. The “flapper” look emerged, characterized by shorter hemlines and a more androgynous figure. The rise of the boyish figure led to the popularity of bandeau-style bras and step-in chemises, mirroring the desire for liberation from traditional gender roles.

“Ups” Underwear: A Glimpse into 1938

  1. The Context of 1938: The late 1930s was a period of transition. The world was still recovering from the Great Depression, and political tensions were escalating towards World War II. In the midst of these challenges, women’s roles were evolving, and their fashion was adapting accordingly.
  2. Enter “Ups” Underwear: Against this backdrop, “Ups” underwear emerged as a notable innovation. Created in 1935 by Ruth and Elliot Handler, the founders of the renowned toy company Mattel, “Ups” underwear aimed to provide comfort, support, and a touch of luxury to women’s lingerie. The name “Ups” was a playful reference to “uplifting,” both in terms of physical support and emotional confidence.
  3. Design and Features: “Ups” underwear was designed with a focus on quality materials, superior craftsmanship, and a commitment to providing women with a comfortable yet stylish option. The bras featured a unique three-part cup design that offered better support and shaping, a departure from the flat bandeau styles of the 1920s. The materials used, including silk and satin, offered a sense of luxury that empowered women from within.
  4. Advertising and Perception: The advertising campaigns for “Ups” underwear were groundbreaking for their time. Rather than portraying women as fragile or submissive, the advertisements showcased them as confident, active individuals. This approach resonated with the changing roles of women in society and contributed to a shift in how women saw themselves.
  5. Impact and Legacy: The introduction of “Ups” underwear was a precursor to the broader changes that would define women’s fashion in the coming decades. While the full impact of its influence might not have been immediately apparent, it laid the foundation for the bra revolution of the 1940s and 1950s, when undergarments evolved to further emphasize comfort, support, and the natural form.

Empowerment and Beyond

“Ups” underwear symbolized more funny panties than just a fashion trend; it represented a step towards the empowerment of women. By focusing on both comfort and style, this lingerie line acknowledged that women’s desires and needs were evolving. The emphasis on confidence and an active lifestyle in the advertising campaigns challenged conventional gender norms, aligning with the changing societal landscape.


The history of women’s underwear is a tapestry woven with threads of societal change, cultural shifts, and individual empowerment. “Ups” underwear in 1938 serves as a milestone in this journey, reflecting the emerging desire for both physical comfort and a sense of self-assurance. As we look back on the evolution of women’s undergarments, it’s clear that each innovation, like “Ups” underwear, has played a crucial role in shaping fashion and fostering empowerment.

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