History of underwear revealed in Polish museum exhibit

>OPATOWEK, Poland (AP) – Victoria has no secrets in this Polish town.

In an exhibition that’s making some Poles do a double-take, the Museum of Industry in Opatowek has chronicled the evolution of women’s underwear from the knee-length knickers and tight corsets of the early 20th century to the skimpy thongs of today.

“Undergarments were pretty much kept well out of sight in the old days,” said Ewa Sieranska, curator at the Central Textile Museum in Lodz, which loaned 140 items to the exhibit called “From Pantaloons to G-Strings.”

“At the beginning of the 20th century you couldn’t show them at all, and later only a little bit, whereas now they’re everywhere,” she added.

Female underwear evolved as women’s role in society changed.

The frumpy drawers of the early 20th century gave way to more modern styles in the 1920s – including garter belts to hold up the stockings of women entering the workplace.

Among notable items on display in this town 150 miles east of Warsaw is a white garter belt with pink hearts and clasps to attach to silk stockings, a style popular before pantyhose were developed in the 1960s.

There are also pantaloons (knee-long cotton underwear with lace fringe), day shirts, nightgowns and two-piece corsets.

Nylon rose in popularity in the 1970s, while natural materials like cotton hold sway today.

The exhibition, which opened in January and runs until the end of March, is sprinkled with a few items of male clothing – boxer shorts, robes and a jock strap from the 1930s.

But male underwear has changed little over the years, and the vast majority of the collection is made up of what once was known as women’s unmentionables.