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2010Re: Regency patterns (long)

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  • Scott & Nancy McDonald
    Jul 19, 1999

      As too the universality of the corset in the Regency period- At least from
      what I have been reading... It is my understanding that while some French
      ladies in the early Regency did the no corset see thru thing, this
      practice did not translate to more modest English fashions. They refered to
      corsets as stays and there are several examples from the period in museums.
      Many of these examples are for thin women, and you can bet if the thin gals
      were wearing one the big ones were also.

      Jean Hunnisett author of "Period Costume for Stage and Screen" has one
      such corset (dated 1805-10) in her collection and describes it (and has a
      pattern for it) on pages 43-46. Huninisett says "At the end of the 18th
      century young women no doubt gladly abandoned their stays, while older or
      larger women still felt the need to go on wearing a support of some kind.
      The first years of the 19th century were a period of transition as far as
      the corset was concerned, and 18th century pattern shapes can still be
      recognised in the early 19th century pattern peices. The side front shaping
      had been taken away, and the front panel was slashed and gussets inserted.
      At first these were straight sided. Later, they curved, allowing the
      breasts to move forward into a more natural shape, rather than being
      suppressed and pushed up. The busk down the front seperated the breasts -
      the effect that was required can be seen in contemporary fashion plates."

      Willett Cunnington in his book "English Womens Clothing in the Nineteenth
      Century" says "It is a common error to suppose that stays were not worn
      during the first half of this epoch: perhaps arising from the assumption
      that French fashions of the Consulate period were identical with the
      English. It is possible that some English women did not wear any, but that
      the 'fashionables' did is clearly indicated. (the stayless years were
      probably limited to those immediately preceeding 1800) There are numerous
      advertisments of corset makers in contemporary papers, as well as frequent
      references to their use (and abuse)."

      To say, based on your observations of period portraits, that corsets were
      not worn, especially in light of the fact that numerous examples exist in
      museums and private collections is a little too speculative for me to buy


      Scott McDonald
      Member/ 93rd Sutherland Highland Regiment of Foot L.H.U.
      <mailto: raintree@...>
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