History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

19 December 2006

What's underneath the skirts?

As I promised, I’ll comment on what equestriennes through history might have worn underneath their skirts. Keep in mind it was not until the end of the seventeenth century that special clothes were developed for the purpose of riding. Until that time, women rode in their everyday dresses, presumably in their everyday underwear (or as in the middle ages, probably nothing).

The bottom line is, we really don’t know much about what women equestriennes wore underneaththeir skirts until the typical riding habit as depicted in Victorian magazines was advertised showing custom doeskin riding breeches as part of the get-up---the breeches clearly intended to be worn under all those petticoats and yards and yards of skirts.

In this painting by Claude Deruet (French, 1588-1622) we get a rare glimpse of what ladies did wear under their clothes, at least in the sixteenth century, and when they just happened to be out riding on a hunt. The women, who are probably members of the court of the Duke de Lorraine, are riding aside and one of them has taken a tumble, thus affording us an uncommon look at what she is wearing underneath her skirts---refined little slippers, pretty stockings and be-ribboned garters---hardly a practical for a chase. But the fanciful seventeenth century taste in everything prevails in this painting, right down to the long, white silky manes of the horses, which were specially bred at this time to compliment their rider’s elegant appearance---er---rather in INelegant, in the case of the poor equestrienne who has fallen. What a long, long way we have come!

And lastly, for my exciting news and wonderful surprise from my editor at Kensington, see my new cover for my Sept 2007 book, DARK RIDER at www.kdennis.com! The hero is a hunk, and man, does he have a "horseman hands." ;-) Will post a larger version on the blog later---working hard tonight to get my info and pre-order stuff up on Amazon! For a mini preview, check out the cover in the banner to the left...Kalen posted for me earlier today. Cheers!


Blogger Victoria Dahl said...

Oh, Kathrynn, it's gorgeous! Congratulations on a great cover. Whew. It's a real nail-biter waiting for it, huh?

And thanks for the great picture of the tumbling lady!

8:08 PM  
Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

Thanks, Vicki. I love the guy on my new cover and his "big hands"...which show up better in the bigger jpgs. ;-)

The painting I posted is one that seems to be used often as a historical reference for underwear. I just wish the skirts had slipped a little higher---hee hee. Think she had drawers on? Something?

10:01 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Great cover, Kathrynn. I like the cool blue colour. It's very mysterious.

As for what our lady has on under her habit, I highly doubt she had drawers on. I've never found evidence for women's underpants before the early 1800s, which is pretty much what all the experts say as well: “Underpants were not a usual component of women’s clothing in the 16thth and 17th century . . . for the general populace, the use of these garments are not known before the beginning of the 19th century.” from Textiler Hausrat, by Dr. Jutta Zander-Seidel. And I’ve haven’t seen evidence of the chamois riding breeches pre-Victorian.

If anyone’s got something, I’d LOVE to see it!!!

8:00 AM  

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