Why we refer to 'a pair' of knickers

Liza Jones gave an online talk about the history of underwear

Garments from history. Speaker Liza Jones gave a talk to the WI - Credit: Elsenham WI

Although archaeologists found 140 loincloths in Tutankhamun’s tomb, the wearing of undergarments as we know them is relatively new, a meeting heard.

In a first for the group, Elsenham WI joined Werrington WI in Peterborough for Liza Jones' online talk about the history of underwear.

Liza Jones spoke about the history of underwear

Liza Jones spoke about the history of underwear at a joint meeting of Elsenham WI and Werrington WI - Credit: Elsenham WI

The meeting heard that corsets, bustles and hooped petticoats were worn by the wealthy as fashion items.

In some cases the poor wore them for practical reasons - a leather corset served as a bra for servants and farm workers.

But underwear as we know it dates from the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Liza said Victorian ladies had two separate pantaloons with a gap for calls of nature. This is why we refer to ‘a pair’ of knickers.


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The meeting also had breakout groups and a fun scavenger hunt at the end.

Elsenham WI welcomes guests and new members. Email elsenhamwi@gmail.com or search for Elsenham WI on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

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