They might be called unmentionables, but Sonja Winther has plenty to say about intimate apparel that  too often has been referenced in hushed tones. A lingerie revolution is, in fact, underway, with women of all shapes and sizes leading the charge.

"Stereotypes are no longer tolerated, and having an authentic voice has become more important than portraying a pristine image," says Winther, president of Chantelle Lingerie in the U.S. "There's something about quality lingerie that causes a woman to stand up straighter, exude more confidence and focus more on how she feels versus obsessing about how she looks in the eyes of others.

"I think it’s great how consumers have demanded that comfort be the ‘norm'."

"There’s a great quote from Marlene Dietrich, ‘Darling, the legs aren't so beautiful, I just know what to do with them'. Ultimately, I think a sense of empowerment comes from an inner sense of self, which takes time to nurture and use as a beacon for navigating through life, love, work and family."

All about attitude

Winther explains, "Twelve years ago, I remember vividly women in focus groups referring to their undergarments as ‘armor’, worn under non-revealing blouses, so they wouldn’t be discriminated against in the workplace. Another woman remembers the lingerie she wore for each major milestone in her life.

“In essence, lingerie has the power of creating a mindset, which is very powerful."

The evolution of lingerie

While manufacturers found a way to make corsets less torturous  in the 19th century, and, today's brands must  focus on changing perception.

"I think it’s great how consumers have demanded that comfort be the ‘norm', and that fabrics have allowed more size inclusivity. And instead of marketing stereotypes for women to aspire to, it’s more liberating to create a space where women explore and express who they are in character, heart and mind. In creating that space, lingerie can be a uniting force."