Posted by P. Bingham on March 03, 1998 at 15:20:05:
In response to Actually, quite likely, written by Jessamyn on February 27, 1998 at 16:17:23
I did further research on petticoats and found a few references which I have some questions about.
1. In a letter of 1814 from Jane Austen to Martha Lloyd, Jane says "I am amused by the present style of female dress (of London fashion) the colored petticoats with braces over the white spencers and enormous bonnets upon the full stretch, are quite entertaining. it seems to me a more marked change than one had lately seen."
this appears as if the "petticoat" is worn as part of the dress, not as "underwear."
2. In a letter from Fanny Austen Knight in regards to the Canterbuty balls; " We wore white crepe dresses trimmed with satin ribbon and the bodices & sleeves spotted with white beads, over satin petticoats, the thursday night, pearl combs, necklaces, earings and brooches. We had a hairdresser from town for the week and were all four alike every night. tuesday evening we had sprigged muslin trimmed with broad lace over satin slips, gold ornaments and flowers in our heads, and friday we wore yellow gauze dresses over satin, beads in our heads adn pearl ornaments.
This too could be perceived as part of the dress.
Jane Austen's town & Country: "beneath the tubular dress styles of the period a simple shift or chemise made of linen replaced form-hugging buckskin. (what is this form-hugging buckskin?) Jane Austen bought six shifts from a travelling salesman in Nov. 1798. New or second-hand shifts were also given to the servants and local poor. As the century progressed, drawers - seperate legs attached to a waistband - were worn. Stays began to shrink in size at the end of the 18th century as the bodice of the dress shortened and some women dispensed with stays all together, while other altered them to suit the changing fashion.
I write this only because it clearly says that women indeed did wear stays and some did not, rather than most did not.
From by Dictionary of Fashion, I found this passage which I've never heard of before: Petticoat bodice, a petticoat joined by the waistline seam to sleeveless bodice; worn from about 1815 until 1890. In 1890 it was a type of corset cover. What is this and do you know if it would have been worn in England? It says see camisole so I suppose this was an early version of one.
Thank you very much,
] 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!
- Bodiced Petticoat Marie Bernadette 11:30:01 3/04/98 (2)
- petticoats and petticoat bodices Jessamyn 16:05:26 3/03/98 (1)
- Very helpful & Very quick too! (nfm) P. Bingham 16:12:52 3/03/98 (0)
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