In both England and America the word corset replaced the word stays.
The soft muslin dresses of 1800 clung to the body highlighting the natural
body outline. This made it difficult to wear stays, but those with imperfect
figures had no choice.
When it became fashionable
to wear a white slippery silk satin slip over the stays, the dress line became
quite smooth as the muslin flowed over the silk underskirt. Later, extra
fullness at the skirt back, was supported by a small bustle pad.
The Empire fashions at the turn of the century
were often little more than sheer nightgowns. The practical solution to
the discomfort of lighter clothing was to adopt the warm male undergarment
called pantaloons. Made of light stockinet in a flesh colour they went all the
way to the ankles or to just below the knee.
In the 1820s the skirts widened with frills and were often horsehair padded
at hemline to make them stand away from the legs. After 1820 corsets were worn
again by all women.
By 1825 the high waist had dropped to its normal position, but skirts
became wider and shorter to balance the increasing sleeves. Corsetry was a
must again to show off the narrow waist. In the mid 1830s basque shaped pieces
were added to the hips.
After 1840 the corset was of a new style made from seven to thirteen
individual pieces. The gusseted reinforced stitched corsets of strong white
twill cotton, used vertical rows of whalebone shaped to the natural body
shape. They were still laced at the back.
Evening dresses had such low décolletage showing exposed shoulders, that
the corset had to lose its shoulder straps and become free standing. Because
the dress bodices were lengthening the actual dress bodices were boned
in sections and this gave not only extra contour, but also helped stop
creasing across the body fabric.
Right - Madam Cave's patent Corset of 1884 without
shoulder straps, but with abdominal over belt to keep the figure to proper
proportion. Recommended by The Lancet as it was thought to be
designed with healthy intention.
Buy my latest ebook and learn how to recognise changes
between Paniers, crinolines, bustles, bras and corsets and the affect this
has on the outer silhouette of female costume
My How to Recognise Undergarments in Fashion History e-book has 12 chapters about the changes in under foundations in costume history found in
various articles on this website.
It also has a new chapter on the history of drawers and knickers and
one covering the chemise and petticoats. This
you to read, print and copy from various web pages of fashion-era.com all in one go.
The Undergarments ebook includes information from my
articles on early corsetry, C18th Paniers and the sack dress, stays to corsets,
crinoline styles from 1830s to 1860s, bustle styles of 1870s & 1883/5,
Edwardian corsetry, bras and girdles
before and after 1950, and a new chapter on drawers, pantaloons, knickers to
panties. A look at Rational Dress Reform, the contribution of Mrs. Bloomer and Dr. Jaeger
to the resultant
cycling and swimming dress. For
more information on the contents of Undergarments click here.
A Printer Friendly Version
allows the ebook to be printed
as single chapters or as a whole book without clipped text at the sides and can also be copied into Word
for ease of use when writing handouts. Don't know what an
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Fashion-Era.com looks at women's costume and fashion history and analyses the mood of an era. Changes in technology, leisure, work, cultural and moral values. Homelife and politics also
contribute to lifestyle trends, which in turn influence the clothes we wear. These are the changes that make any era of society special in relation to the study of the costume of a period.
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