Teddy Lingerie. What Is It, Exactly?

A teddy is typically sheer and loosely fitted, which makes it unlike a bodysuit or romper, although this style of lingerie is often confused with the two. Teddies are meant to cover the torso and crotch and may even have an open crotch at times. (Spicy!)

By definition, a teddy in lingerie is a combination of a camisole and a pair of knickers, which is why this undergarment was originally called a “camiknicker” or a “camibloomer” during the 1910s and 1920s.

The teddy was originally called a “teddy bear” or a “teddy bear suit,” but was later shortened to teddy. Although the term “teddy” was first used while referring to the undergarment in the 1920s, the word pertaining to that style of lingerie was not popularized until the 1960s. That being said, it’s not quite clear where that colloquialism originated from. Some have speculated that it came from Teddy Roosevelt (someone who you definitely don’t want to imagine in lingerie), and others believe that it simply has to do with the garment being a one-piece, with the wearer’s arms and legs sticking out like a teddy bear. Either way, no one really knows where the origin of that word came from.

The earliest known form of the teddy is the “envelope chemise” of the 1910s. A chemise is an undergarment, which dates back to the Middle Ages and was worn under a corset, as that was the only form of underwear pre-20th century.

During the 1910s, the ideal silhouette was starting to become straighter, so the camiknickers fit loosely and folded at the waist to compliment that specific shape. These step-ins were meant to be worn next to the skin, and to eliminate the need for any other type of underwear.

These camiknickers had button closures at the crotch for the purpose of practicality, rather than having to do with anything promiscuous. (Don’t get too excited!) Rather, the purpose of open-crotch underwear at the time was to distinguish women’s underwear from men’s underwear. 

Since empire-waisted dresses were in fashion, there was no need for the volume of petticoats, which made the envelope chemise the perfect underwear piece to don for this ubiquitous style of dress for the 1910s.

Camiknickers rose in popularity during World War II, and because the most popular silhouettes were becoming closer to the body, teddies became more fitted to the bust and had shorter legs. Women often wore closely fitted trousers during this time, which called for a pragmatic undergarment like the camiknicker. Something “all-in-one” like this piece was perfect for this period of hard work and strong will.

By the late 1940s, the teddy had gone out style and lost its popularity.

In the 1960s, however, a new version of teddy underwear came back as a bra top attached to a slip, meant to be worn under shift dresses, which replaced the half-slip. It came in traditional lingerie colors and was called both a “teddy” and a “bra slip”.

It was extremely popular for the younger crowd. Young women saw it as “new” and “stylish”. Although there were some older women who adopted the style, younger women were much fonder of it.

Basically, to a youthful woman living in the 1960s, the teddy wasn’t something that you would see your 75-year-old grandmother wear, and that made it hip and, well, “groovy”. Of course, this undergarment later lost its popularity and prevalence once again.

However, once the ‘80s hit, there was a major revival of the teddy. It was originally marketed as sleepwear during the decade, but the sheerness, sexiness, and high-cut legs enlivened women to wear the sultry garment as lingerie.

It combined the bra and panties, and was usually made of spandex, which added to the sex appeal. It came in a variety of bright, vibrant colors, and women loved the ability to express their femininity beneath their broad, shoulder-padded power suits.

Today, the teddy is worn pretty much exclusively as either lingerie or for practicality. There are some teddies which are “body-briefer” teddies, meant to be worn as shapewear, and others which are purely meant for sex appeal.

Teddy sleepwear is made with simpler materials and styles for the purpose of comfort, while the fashion top teddy is adorned with beads, crystals, and sequins, meant to be worn as outerwear. Over the years, teddies have come in many shapes, textures, and fabrics, but they all have the same principle: femininity.

There’s something about wearing a teddy that makes you feel incredibly feminine, yet powerful and sexy at the same time. You gotta love those teddies!

You might like these