petticoats and petticoat bodices
Posted by Jessamyn on March 03, 1998 at 16:05:26:
In response to petticoats..., written by P. Bingham on March 03, 1998 at 15:20:05
] 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."
I've noticed this type of discrepancy before, particularly in earlier periods. They definitely use "petticoat" to refer to an unseen underskirt, but sometimes it also refers to underskirts that are meant to be partially seen--such as the way an 18th-century polonaise sometimes reveals some skirt in front. Some 18th-century quilted satin petticoats were meant to be seen in this way, and I suspect that the Regency version may be what showed when you wore one of those open-fronted robes (a la Marianne at the picnic in the film Sense & Sensibility).
When you think about the word "petticoat," which essentially means "little mantle," it's not surprising that it originally didn't have to apply to an undergarment.
] 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.
I think this is similar to the above, but less of an issue. It was very popular to wear dresses of gauze or net or lace over colored satin. The color showed through, but the satin garment was still functioning as a lining, not as an outer garment. It's just like those eyelet dresses they're selling these days that come with a separate colored lining. You wouldn't regard the lining as a dress, even though it can be donned independently and is visible.
] 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.
There's a picture on my Underthings page of one of these, from the History of Underclothes. In the Regency, it was simply what we would call a full slip. I gather it metamorphosed eventually into a camisole, which is just a bodice.
Hope this is helpful--
- Very helpful & Very quick too! (nfm) P. Bingham 16:12:52 3/03/98 (0)
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