In the late fifteenth century fitted underbodies are made of heavy material. Hinged iron corsets replace the underbodies early in the sixteenth century. By mid-century some corsets are boned in patterns which follow the lines of the dress seam. To support the skirt between the waist and bolster, corsets are finished with a roll or piccadil.
In the history of Western civilization, Elizabethan dress is the most artificial and ostentatious. The bodice is a separate, cut to fit tight and flat across the chest. It has a low, square neckline and a waistline which extends in front to a very low V. A corset is under the bodice. It is stiffened with whalebone, strips of steel or hardwood, or made entirely of pierced steel. A stomacher (plastron) is over the bodice. Shaped like a shield or triangle, it has a very long, boned point which extends below the waist. A chemise is under the bodice. The fashionable sleeve is tied with ribbons into a series of puffs down the arm. Another important sleeve, the leg-o'-mutton is stiff and voluminous. At the top it is boned and quilted into a rounded shape. It tapers to the wrist and is finished with a cuff or small ruff. Early in Elizabeth's reign the gown is shaped and supported by a Spanish hoop, the verdingale or farthingale. It is made by inserting steel or whalebone into casings in a funnel-shaped petticoat. Gradually the French wheel or cartwheel becomes stylish. Shaped like a wheel, it attaches at the hip and looks like a shelf with sharp edges. At its widest it is 1 1/2 yards from side to side and 20 to 24 inches from back to front. A pleated ruffle of the dress fabric often extends to the hoop edge. Eventually the bolster, a very large padded roll, replaces the French hoop in England. There is another under-structure made of two wide and arching wires on each hip. The skirt for the French hoop is quite wide and full, and gathered or pleated into a waistband. It is made both with and without an opening at the center front. Since the width of the hoop makes movement difficult, the skirt is shortened to the instep.
Costume -- Europe -- History -- (LC) Metalwork -- France -- 16th century -- (YVRC)
costume (mode of fashion): underwear: corsets (AAT)
Clothing & Accessories
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Related Exhibit or Resource:
Elizabethan (Women): 1550-1615: Dress
Button, Jeanne and Sbarge, Stephen
History of Costume, In Slides, Notes and Commentaries: Volume 3
New York, NY Theatre Arts Slide Presentations 1975
GT513 +B87 3 (LC)
Visual Resources Collection
Visual Resources Collection
Paris, France: Musee National du Moyen Age (Musee Cluny)
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