The mid-19th century was a period when women still wore corsets and layers of petticoats. By the way, 1848 is the year when the stud & slot fastening on corsets was patented. Since that time, women often used split busk corsets with stud closure at the front. Since the crinoline is not yet invented, ladies use corded petticoats to create the fashionable shape of a skirt. So, let’s see a wealthy middle-class woman from 1848 getting ready to go out for a walk. We’ll find out the details of her outfits.
As always, undergarments first. A linen chemise, pantalettes, stockings, and shoes.
Corset next. This one sports the latest development – a split busk with a stud & slot fastening.
The split busk was invented by a French Corsetier, Jean-Julien Josselin in 1829. The stud closure was patented by Joseph Cooper in 1848. It allowed the wearers to put on their corset without any help.
Some corsets still featured the straps used on the earlier models, but this one stays put without them.
Lacing-up was much easier, and the “bunny ear” method allowed for a good distribution of the tension. It was even easier with a mirror or a maid.
Petticoats next. If it is chilly outside, a winter petticoat goes first. This is quilted, made in 2 layers of cotton and wool batting. Stylish, and it keeps your legs very warm.
The waist is fitted with a drawstring, so it is easy to regulate the size.
A corded petticoat creates some structure.
In the next decade, corded petticoats were slowly replaced by the crin petticoats, and later – cages. But before the crinoline cage reduced the number of petticoats worn, quite a few would be required to create that fashionable silhouette.
Four petticoats is actually not that bad!
The flap on the chemise helps to hide the edge of the corset, by the way. A similar function to a corset cover.
A chemisette next. This provides a nice collar, peeking out from the dress. If the dress had a lower neckline, it protected the skin from the sun.
And at last, the dress. This one is made in fashionable roll-printed cotton, with pleated front and same fabric decoration on the sleeves.
It closes at the back with hooks and eyelets, so some help will be needed. In this case, the husband helps. Not a typical role for the man of the era – normally, maids and family members would assist.
This gown has fashionably wide sleeves – forerunner of the pagoda sleeves of the 1850s.
The narrow cotton lace insets add a little more interest to this simple dress.
Knitted mittens or sleeves can keep the hands warm.
A brooch will add a bit more interest to the otherwise rather simple frock.
A shawl – to keep the shoulders warm.
And a bonnet.
Let her grab a cloak and a muff, and off she goes.
Here are a few close-ups of the outfit.
Here, you can see the pleats in the front of the bodice.
And you can also see the emerging new silhouette with the dome-shaped skirts gradually growing and expanding in the next few years.
And a close-up of the corset – a comfy corded, 2 layer affair, with steel busk and steel bones only at the back.
The shawl is an antique, cotton flannel with basic embroidery.
With the mantlet on. It is an older style, not very fashionable, but it is made of lovely wool and is warm.