Most regency women wore a set of stays underneath their gowns. They were either short stays or a fuller body stay with cording for strength. They supported the body and lifted the bust but did not bring in the waist - that was to come during the Victorian period.Stays were worn over a short-sleeved chemise made of either cotton or linen depending on the district/town/country you lived in, the crops that were grown or where your fabric was imported from. Over the stays was worn a bodiced petticoat, followed by a chemisette and day dress for daytime wear and by a gown for balls. Chemisettes were not worn with ballgowns and often a short or sleeveless chemise was used with short sleeved ballgowns. Regency women valued their fair skin and took particular care to keep their skin from burning.
Below are some examples of extant undergarments.
|Chemisette, c.1800-25 Snowshill Collection, Gloucestershire UK|
|Chemisette, c.1800 Killerton House UK|
|Early 19C Linen Chemise|
|French, worn in America, about 1821|
|Early 19C Stays|
|Early 19th Century Petticoat, sold several years ago on ebay by Time Travellers|
|Early 19C Bodiced Petticoat|
|From the Metropolitan Museum of Art|
|Early 19C Pocket|
|Early 19C Drawers 1810-20, image courtesy http://regencysa.proboards.com/|
If you want to make your own undergarments there is an excellent pattern for Regency Undergarments that you can purchase or download as an e-pattern from Sensibility Patterns that includes chemise, short stays and chemisettes.
Country Wives have a chemise pattern.
Laughing Moon have just released a beautiful new regency long stays pattern.