It never ceases to amaze me how a few wrong fabric choices, ill- fitting undergarments, and poor tailoring can take what could be a beautiful garment and throw it into the Crimes Against Historical Clothing category, aka Farb. Now, I have a few monstrosities buried in the depths of my closet never again to see the light of day. Every costumer does, it's all part of the learning experiences, the building blocks for learning how to create beautiful clothing. So hopefully, you can learn from my mistakes with a few tricks I have picked up along the way... Enjoy!
|18th Century Cartoon Showing the Female Shape with Stays|
Secondly, no matter what era of clothing you wish to recreate, you must remember that the female body was viewed very differently from the way we view it today. They believed the female body needed extra support. As a result women wore stays, or corsets depending on what time period you focus on. Not only were they the building blocks of the female wardrobe, their shape also defined the shape for the garments worn on top of them. Now, my era, which tends to be around 1795, was a time of great transition. Political upheaval changed the rules for fashion and for the first time, the smooth conical shape of previous eras was replaced by the high waisted, freer styles of the Regency and Empire eras. Now, unless you were one of the Merveilleuses running around the Champs de'lysses wetting down your thin white muslin gown, you would have still worn some sort of stays (yes, they did this). Thankfully, however, the transitional period allows for a choice as to which stays you prefer. You have your traditional long stays of the 1780's, which were still fashionable until the late, late 1790's, the ever popular, and my personal favorite, transitional stays, the later styled long stays of the 1800's, and, for those of you who are willowy, the bodiced petticoat. Now, for those of us, like me, who have a bit of fluff, the bodiced petticoat just does not provide enough support for the erm... girls. Anyway, any of these choices will work to create the desired silhouette for the late 18th century, early 19th century time period. However, as with any type of clothing, your choice of desired shape should flatter your figure and play up your assets. Also, you must chose your undergarments based on the outer garment you wish to make. For example, you would never wear transitional stays under a Robe l'Anglais, the shape will not work without long stays. Just as you would not wear 1780's style long stays under an 1810 dress. Each style must have the proper foundations to have a correct shape and look.
|Original Dress from 1795|
|Mantua Maker's Shop|