Actually, quite likely
Posted by Jessamyn on February 27, 1998 at 16:17:23:
In response to not very likely., written by P. Bingham on February 27, 1998 at 14:07:06
] Corsets were unusual during this period, especially for a beautiful young woman like Lizzy. If she was older, and had a middle like an old tire (I don't mean to offend!) then perhaps she might wear one. Some ladies didn't wear anything at all under thier clothes, and at the beginning of the century, some of the ladies even wet thier gowns to give them the statuesque effect. The general piece would have been a thin shift, perhaps a petticoat but even these were not overly common. With the waist so high, you could imagine, a corsett was not really needed and it would have ruined that natural, flowing effect that the regency women were after. Drawers, petticoats and corsetts just started to become common towards the end of the Regency and as the waist dropped they become more and more prevelant.
Actually, this is one of those semimyths perpetuated by overview-of-the-entire-Western-world costuming histories, which invariably focus on the French revolution and largely ignore English fashion. Many women, particularly the English, continued to wear corsets throughout the Regency--even young, pretty ones. There were two standard styles of corset at the time, quite different from the waist-pinching styles of the 18th century but corsets nonetheless. If I've done my links right, an example of the short corset (on a slender young thing) from 1804 is below. (See my Underthings page for more info and pictures--link at bottom.)
The wholesale casting-off of corsets was done by the chic, upper-class French, who were also the perpetrators of over-the-top behaviors like the gown-wetting. And even they wore flesh-colored body stockings, essentially, to keep from showing too much. However, to think that most women did not wear corsets is to think that most women in the 1980s dressed like Madonna on a regular basis. Or even that most women in the 1970s cast off their bras. Many did, but many more did not, depending on figure to be sure but mostly on personal taste, social situation, and regional trends.
Keep in mind, too, that these oh-so-chic French women were lounging about on recamiers, while English women, ever more conservative, remained very fussy about upright carriage and had rather uncomfortable furniture that required sitting up very straight. A corset helps with that. My feeling is that Lizzie, to whom elegance and good taste were very important, probably would have worn one.
Also, petticoats were definitely required to create the right shape with the ordinary "round gowns" of the turn of the century; they were less important (but still worn for modesty) in the more straight-up-and-down first decade of the 19th century, and became vital again in the teens as skirts belled out at the bottom. By the end of the second decade, they were already being corded at the bottom to make them stand out more. We know Lizzie wore them because hers is mentioned, "inches deep in mud."
] I've seen the Laurence Olivier version (in which he plays Darcy) and it was definately 1890 or so, as the skirts were still quite full and the waist had not really risen yet.
Actually, you should say after the waist had dropped again. This production's costumes were not set in the 1790s (as I assume you meant to say) but in the 1830s--well after Austen's death and totally irrelevant to her works. But that's a whole other story!
- petticoats... P. Bingham 15:20:05 3/03/98 (5)
- Very helpful post and... Marie Bernadette 19:13:21 2/28/98 (1)
- I've heard this too... P. Bingham 12:33:38 3/01/98 (0)
- Thanks a lot Jessamyn! Nfm Ann2 13:41:30 2/28/98 (0)
- Very informative. (nfm) May 22:53:43 2/27/98 (0)
- There was that one dress Carolyn B 20:18:44 2/27/98 (0)
- P&P P. Bingham 18:40:15 2/27/98 (0)
- And the actors use corsets too Caroline 16:32:34 2/27/98 (10)
- JE on P&P2 May 23:01:38 2/27/98 (0)
- Confusion -- partly due to use of a slightly unfortunate word... The Mysterious H.C. 19:03:56 2/27/98 (8)
- The zona Marie Bernadette 19:09:38 2/28/98 (5)
- Zonė The Mysterious H.C. 21:55:09 3/01/98 (4)
- Bathyzonos vs. Hypsizonos The Mysterious H.C. 18:11:01 3/03/98 (2)
- Striving for the "Grecian look" but not quite committing, eh? nfm Marie Bernadette 00:21:14 3/02/98 (0)
- I knew I could rely on you! Caroline 20:35:41 2/27/98 (0)
- Ahem.... Myretta 20:34:03 2/27/98 (0)
- Drat! Here's another try at that image. Jessamyn 16:19:54 2/27/98 (3)
- If three times isn't the charm, just shoot me! Jessamyn 16:22:27 2/27/98 (2)
- HTML Practice Board? (nfm) Caroline 16:34:57 2/27/98 (1)
- No, no, I get it--it's just flaky typing, that's all... (nfm) Jessamyn 01:23:55 2/28/98 (0)
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