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Elle Jauffret

Writer ~ Science Enthusiast ~ Fork Handler

The Stomacher and Getting Dressed in the 18th Century

I present you the stomacher, a beautiful accessory from the 18th century.


Stomacher (left):    Stomacher (right): made by Isabel Northwode Costumes 

An essential part of women’s gowns, it was fastened to the women’s bodices to decorate the front of their gowns (from the neckline to the waist) and shape their silhouettes. Either embroidered (sometimes with precious metals) or covered with gems or pearls, the stomacher could simply be a decorative accessory and be made of fabric (which allowed fluidity of movement) and be pinned, stitched, or held in place by the lacing of the gown. However, the stomacher was also used as a structural accessory, in which case it was stiffened with wooden slats or whalebone in order to create a stiff profile and push the breasts upward (the corset later replaced the stomacher to obtain that effect; working class used a tighter stays to that effect as well). 

Getting dressed was a lengthy process requiring help. To be properly dressed, the separate garments had to be layered in a specific order (as follows):

the shift (white cotton chemise-type undergarment),Link

the cap/headdress,

the stocking, garters, and shoes,

the stays (support garment stiffened with whalebone, wood or reed),

the pockets (separate accessories) were then tied on,

the panniers/side hoops and underpetticoat (or only a hooped petticoat),

the overpetticoat,

the dress, finally,

and the fichu/kerchief (to cover the women’s chests—to show the women’s virtue—when the fashion was too revealing)

Et voilà!



Panniers/hoops : 






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