By  on August 12, 2011

What lies beneath? Well, if you’re talking about clothes during the late 19th century, in the days before the widespread use of central heating, the answer may have been a union suit. And underwear has always been a bit racy, a touch risqué.

The Northwestern Knitting Company, which became the classic American company Munsingwear after World War I, claimed to be the first firm in the world to show a photograph of someone in their underwear in their advertisements. That’s right — before their 1907 ad featuring a little girl in a union suit, underwear ads depicted such things as a woman shopping for lingerie or simply a freestanding corset. The Northwestern ad also revealed that its reader could send away for a booklet showing styles “photographed on living models,” which was regarded as very cutting edge at the time.

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