Blogging from A to Z: U is for Underpinnings

I’m reblogging this 2017 post on historical underpinnings; Claire’s corset from In The Eye of The Beholder is referenced. Enjoy!

Sharon E. Cathcart

uAs I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, I primarily write historical fiction.  This means researching not only social mores, foods, and events, but also fashion.  When you are looking at the various women’s silhouettes that were en vogue throughout history, you have to also look at the underpinnings that created them.

2009.1.1_20140317_03_web Fashion Institute of Technology

I’m not going to lie; women essentially wore two full sets of clothing throughout most of history.  The underthings were almost as heavy as the outer garments.  Corsetry and petticoats were made to fit a given woman’s shape into the styles of the day.  Let’s go back to the earliest period in which I’ve written:  the Regency, which is when Clytie’s Caller is set.  Clytie’s stays (like the ones at the right) would have kept her figure pretty straight, in line with the Empire-waisted dresses that were in fashion at the time.

romantic era Fashion Institute…

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7 thoughts on “Blogging from A to Z: U is for Underpinnings

    1. Most women walked and rode, which is a great deal of exercise in and of itself. However, a well-fitted corset is pretty comfortable once you’re used to wearing it. Because we’re no longer accustomed to doing so, it takes some waist training. I was a historical reenactor for many years, and wore period underpinnings from a few different eras as a result. The main thing to know is that you have to take corsets off slowly; the blood rushes from your head if you do it too fast, and you’ll faint.

      I’m sure you can guess how I learned that. 🙂


  1. I wonder what they’d think of women shopping in Target with yoga pants and tank tops! It’s fascinating, the history of clothing, even as recently as the past few decades. Glad to have found you through the A to Z Challenge!


    1. Remember the old Cole Porter song? “In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking, now heaven knows anything goes”? I would guess that just about covers it. Thanks for stopping by today!


      1. That’s very true! It reminds me of a racy joke told on The Andy Griffith Show, but the answer wasn’t revealed audibly.

        What did the mirror say to the dresser?

        Don’t look now but your drawers are open!

        Oh, things change with the times.

        Liked by 1 person

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