History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

04 June 2012

Odd Regency corsets

Common Regency Corset c. 1810-1820
I thought I’d feature a few of the more unusual extant Regency era corsets here today. The most common corsets of the day were long (going from over the bust to near the hip bones) and had a hard busk of wood, ivory, silver, or steal, in the front. They were also either corded to add stiffness, or lightly boned (personally, I’ve found that cording doesn’t do much to keep the corset stiff, and corded corsets tend to creep up uncomfortably). This first pic to the right is the classic, common corset of the day. This is what the ladies of the ton would have been wearing.

Wrapping Regency Corset c. 1800-1810

We know from the records of workhouses that corsets were considered so basic and so important that they were among the items that were provided for the women who’d had to fall back on charity (and the workhouses didn’t provide anything that they didn’t deem an absolute necessity). But what might the corsets of the poor looked like? Or those of the maids, the farm laborers, and the other women who worked and might have done well with a bit more freedom? Well, there are actually a few, clearly homemade, versions out there in various collections.
Front-lacimg Regency Corset c. 1800-1820

This first example is not boned in any way. It laces at the very top in back, but the bits that wrap around the waist (and would have pinned shut) provide most of the constraint and support. This is an example that a working woman could have got herself in and out of without assistance if she needed to do so.

This is another odd one. It’s solid in the back, laces over the stomach, and would have pinned shut across the breasts. With this one, I wonder if it was meant as a nursing corset?

So yes, while I do harp on the fact that all heroines SHOULD be wearing corsets, and that they need assistance to get in and out of them, it’s possible that if you’re writing a lower-class woman, she might we wearing the Regency equivalent of 18th century jumps (soft, light, meant for lounging about and working in).


Blogger Philippa Lodge said...

It's not surprising that they were considered necessary: there were no bras. You wouldn't want the girls bouncing around, even in the workhouse.

1:42 PM  

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