Jan 1, 2012

Regency Undergarments

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.
Mantua Maker have an excellent long stays and pantalettes pattern.
Laughing Moon have just released a beautiful new regency long stays pattern.

Busk pocket on the inside of a set of regency stays owned by Aylwen Gardiner-Garden


Madame Berg said...

This post is an excellent resource and with fabulous examples. Bookmark'd.

Anonymous said...

Aylwen, Great post!

The "source unknown" petticoat with braces/suspenders was sold several years ago on eBay by Time Travellers.

We also should mention that Laughing Moon has recently come out with beautiful new pattern for Regency era long stays. Totally worth checking into!


Aylwen Gardiner-Garden said...

Thanks Dawn - I've added your information to the article - its very much appreciated.

Sandi said...

Surely the 'petticoat with braces/suspenders' is a skirt that would have been worn with a spencer, as part of a summer walking dress, like the ensemble from the LACMA.

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