History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

25 January 2010

Interesting Regency-era Stays

Today’s post is going to be short and sweet. I spent 17+ hours over the weekend digging a malware program out of my computer and it pretty much exhausted me (I did get rid of it though; $70 and four new antivirus programs later *sigh*).

I troll various auction and retail sites for new and interesting examples of period clothing. Recently I found a pair of stays that were different than any I’d ever seen before. They’re from the Regency era and appear to be rather like a pair of jumps (the unboned, but supportive lounging stays of the 18th century). I’ve never seen anything like them. The best part is, authors are always clamoring for something their heroine could get in and out of herself, and these fit the bill.

They’re made of simple canvas, with a short lace at the top and a wrapping closure at the waist that pinned shut. Easy in; easy out. I’m guessing these are a homemade garment, and probably not the cutting edge of fashion, but they’re perfect for a country miss who needs to be a little more self-sufficient (maybe someone who had sisters to help, but no actual maid).


Blogger Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

Very interesting Kalen, and ingenious too. Where did you find these? Are they original, or replicas? And why ARE stays so endlessly fascinating? *g*

9:29 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hey, Susan. I meant to post a link to the site. It's Vintage Textile. They're an amazing dealer of antique clothing and I check their site for extant examples from my eras of interest on a regular basis. All the garments there are original extant garments.


10:18 AM  
Blogger Leslie Carroll said...

These do indeed look fairly manageable. But perhaps not terribly supportive for bustier women.

11:48 AM  
Blogger Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

Thank you, Kalen -- great site!

12:03 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

These do indeed look fairly manageable. But perhaps not terribly supportive for bustier women.

True, which is why I think they're more akin to jumps than true stays. It would be fairly easy IMO to modify the design into something more supportive, but still easy to take on and off. All you'd need is a little cording like you see on the more common long-line stays of the era.

2:47 PM  
Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

Fascinating stuff as usual, Kalen. I can see why a young woman who had to move more in her work or who had no maid would definitely prefer something like this around the house.

6:38 PM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Fascinating, Kalen! And very apropos, since I just edited the scene in Vienna Waltz which you helped me with, involving the hero helping the heroine out of her corset (while they're discussing a murder rather; that's what happens when you write historical suspense rather than romances :-).

Have you heard of Circassian corsets? I find a reference to them in the fashion notes on Candice Hern's wonderful site. I did some googling, and they were apparently invented by Mrs. Bell and are praised (in La Belle Assemblée) for being remarkably comfortable and not having whalebone or metal. But I can't find a description of picture of what one actually looked like.

11:23 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Have you heard of Circassian corsets?

Like you, I've read the term, but that's all.

Many extant examples have no boning, just cording, but having worn one of these, I can assure that they were meant only for VERY skinny girls. The stupid thing just scrunched up around my waist. Uncomfortable and unattractive (a nice, wide, lumpy waist, just what every woman wants, LOL!). I went back and boned all the seams in my 1820s stays. It’s soooooo much better to wear now.

2:23 PM  

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