Beneath every striking outfit lies an "undercover story". Underwear has been crucial throughout the centuries in padding and supporting the outer dress or suit, and in helping to create the final silhouette. From cod pieces to shoulder pads; hoops to bumrolls, crinolines to bustles: all have secretly adapted the human form to an artificial shape.
Underwear has also been significant in promoting hygiene and cleanliness, allowing the wearer to use a barrier-layer between costly outer fabrics, which were difficult or impossible to clean, and the human body below. In the absence of modern bathrooms and bathing, clean linen and later cotton underclothing was essential, and could be regularly changed and robustly laundered, preventing dirt reaching garments above.