1840s stays

Hana-Marmota asked to see 1840s corsets (or stays, as they were still called by all but the most genteel), so here are some I have found.  It’s not quite the hundreds I mentioned, but that would make for a very long post!

There are the old-fashioned:

Corset, 1830s-40s, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Corset, 1840s, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Corset, 1840s, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Corset, 1825-50, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Corset, 1830-40, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Wedding corset, 1839, MFA Boston

The fashion forward and innovative:

Corset, 1839-41, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Corset, 1810-50, Mrs. Bishop, Corset Maker, 108 Hudson St., N. Y, Metropolitan Museum of Art

And a few examples of some interesting experimental waist wraps:

Corset, 1830-1849, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Corset, 1810-1850, Metropolitan Museum of Art

9 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Steph says:

    Very cool. I imagine those ladies would be absolutely mortified if someone whispered in their ear when they purchased their new corset that one day in the future their underwear would be on display in some of the world’s finest museums.

    Or maybe they’d be amused.

    That’s the sort of thing I’d do with time travel.

  2. MrsC says:

    Interesting how long they are given the rapid change of shape to skirts that stuck out. Or am I getting muddled? Also intersting that cording seems to play a bigger part than boning, busks aside.

    • Nope, you are right! It is one of those things where the shape of the corset doesn’t seem to match the dress worn over, but I’ll have to make and wear a bunch to really know for sure ;-) I’ve been noticing that about cording too – it’s definitely overlooked as an important component of corsetry.

  3. Thank you very much! I think I’m already familiar with some of them, but not all.
    And the more I see of them, the more I’m fascinated by what MrsC said. Maybe it has something to do with the amount of heavy petticoats? That they needed more support for them? (Wild guess. I’m not familar with the practical aspects of corsetry at all.)

    • P.S. You know, seeing as I want to make that 1848 Czech “national” costume one day, this is a decade I’m really interested in. :-) I like those old shapes and corded ones. Somehow, they feel like they would be the right thing to wear under the “national” costume… because the Czech patriots/nationalists of 19th century were apparently not the fashion following crowd.

      • I wouldn’t actually be hugely surprised if some people in Czechoslovakia were still wearing stays (18th century style) well into the 1840s. From what I’ve read, and from evidence from the time, many people in very rural areas wore very traditional clothes until the late 19th, early 20th century, and it was really only WWI that modernised the more remote areas of Europe. It’s pretty amazing to think how recent that was.

    • It’s one of those things where I really want to make the whole outfit and wear it to see if I can figure it out!.

  4. Lauren says:

    This is wonderful! On my wish-list of things to make this year is to complete my 1830s underthings- including revisiting my corset. Very inspiring!

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Leimomi Oakes is the Dreamstress, a textile historian, seamstress, designer, speaker and museum professional. Leimomi is available for educational and entertaining presentations, textile and fashion advice, special commissions and events. Click to learn more

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