Jill Fields

Fellowship Year: 


Project Title: 

The Production of Glamour: The Social History of Lingerie, 1909-1959

I am truly excited to discover that there are no less than 266 twentieth century pieces from the “Supporting and Shaping Structures,” “Night- and Dressingwear,” and “Underwear” collections [at the ROM]. Viewing these pieces will contribute to a more accurate portrayal of lingerie’s subtle changes over time. […] The uses and abuses of the 19th-century corset have been documented and analyzed extensively. On the other hand, the changes in the restrictive, erotic and functional purposes of undergarments which have occured since the corset’s decline in the first decades of the 20th century have received little scholarly attention. […] The study on which I am working will enrich the field of textile history not only by documenting the particular subject of lingerie, but also by showing how the field is shaped by, and helped shape, other areas of 20th century society.  

About the Fellow: 

At the time of her fellowship, Dr. Fields was a History PhD Candidate at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Currently she is Professor and Coordinator of the Jewish Studies Certificate Program at Fresno State University. 

Dr. Fields identified 266 individual pieces of 20th century lingerie in the ROM’s collection that were related to her research on the social history of lingerie. To aid in interpreting the huge range of garments available, she categorized them into three broad categories: foundations, underwear, and lingerie. She investigated the changing designs and styles of each category, how they were mass produced, and the larger cultural implications each held. She was particularly interested in how there are clues in media of the time that indicate lingerie was a market strongly “segmented by class.” 

Related Publications: 

Fields, Jill. 2007. An intimate affair: women, lingerie, and sexuality. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Authored by: Kait Sykes

Authored by: Kait Sykes