Sunday, June 5, 2011

Underpinings make the gown

Regency chemise and corset/stays
Underpinnings make your gown, if you want to look period correct, you need to wear the underwear of that period as well.

We live in a time were our body's own shape creates the look of the outwear, we wear a minimum of underthings, bra, knickers, tights, maybe a spenser if its cold. We like to ensure that our underwear is invisible, the 'panty line' look is avoided at all costs. But in the 20th, 19th, 18th, 17th, centuries and beyond, the underpinings were the basis for the shape of your look. Without them you won't look right in your 19th C Regency gown or your 18th C polonaise or your 16th C Tudor gown.

On ABC's Radio National today I listened to Fashion in the fifties. Diane Masters was a fashion model, or a mannequin as they were called then, one of a generation of professional models who were photographed by the leading image-makers of the day in Australia; Helmut Newton and Athol Shmith. She discussed the importance of underpinings to the look of the gown, the bra shape, the step-ins (corsets), the petticoats, all worked to create the desired shape that the fashion designer was after.

So if you want the right look, start from the inside out, below are the underpinings for the early Regency:

Regency chemise

Back of corset/stays

Front of corset stays, these give the 'shelf' look that was fashionable'


Ensure your outwear works!
Back of gown

So, if your still reading, get the right underpinings for the right period and don't mix and match them either :)


  1. Finally, I have my chemise and stays! I used the Sense & Sensibility Regency underthings pattern, but altered it for a more comfortable fit...narrowed the back and shoulder, added eyelets to the seperated front straps so I can loosen or lift a bit more. The lower edge was also lengthened and is now more comfortable and stays in place better.

    Now I want to make some late 18th c stays too!

    1. Well done Sandi and you looked splendid in Bath :)

  2. Your chemise is much longer than mine. Is there a right length?

    1. Well at least below the knees Lady D, I'm fairly short so most patterns are long on me :)


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