At 06:10 PM 8/16/2004, you wrote:
>As far as I know, corsets, or stays were not worn as outwear ever in the
>The problem with wench garb "bodice" is that it does emulate a corset,
>except made out of tapestry
>material. No one wore chemises or shifts with just stays over them.
Ummm not true. That may well have been the case in cities or on the
eastern seaboard, but in the early 18th C it was done, especially in the
backcountry. Woodmason refers to them as a full bodice with deep
decolletage, tight fitting waist, short full skirt and a hem worn high
above the ankle. (Albion's Seed, Fischer, Oxford 1989) He also makes
reference to women wearing naught but shift and petticoat, even to
church. Both of these forms of dress seem to have been common among the
northern English and Scots/Irish settlers.
The French reference is also accurate. Gousse (Costume in New France from
1740-1760, Chambly 1998) lists the justaucorps de femme, or simply juste,
as a garment that follows the body's curves, has sleeves, has a deep
neckline that shows the neck and bust, hugs the waist, and has short tabs
in front and back.
No, it's not high society, it's backcountry settlers, milkmaids, serving
girls, but what we think of as 'wench' has very specific roots in the 18th
C. Even the stays are noted as being worn with just shift and petticoat
around the house or settlement. They give support to working women who do
not have the need for the shortgown, much as some women work arounnd the
house or yard in just a sports bra today.
None of this makes it period for the Society, however. Most of the
references deal with new world sources, where society is looser, supplies
are scarcer, and the people are not so concerned with image as they are
Artillery lends dignity to what might otherwise be a vulgar brawl
Its like I always say, you get more with a kind word and a two-by-four then
with just a two-by-four - Marcus Cole