The evolution of lingerie in Western society can be closely correlated to the socioeconomic and political status of women in different times. The S-shaped corsets so popular at the Turn of the Century pointed toward Victorian social codes, and the girdles of the 1950s reflected the return of women to a sort of mandated femininity after World War II. The mostly mythical bra burning of the 1960s helped create a false stereotype of feminists, and visible thongs in the Aughts arguably helped women to express their sexuality in a new, quite overt way. Today, we like to think that women are free to wear whatever the hell they’d like under their clothes—but it’s a major plus when their underwear is made by women, for women.
These nine lingerie labels have made it their mission to make women feel sexy, whatever that may mean to them. From androgynous underpinnings to retro-chic bustiers for women of all shapes and sizes, the offerings don’t cater to one specific body ideal—and they certainly don’t pander to a male gaze. Underwear shopping just got a whole lot more empowering.