Over the years (six-ish), I've made and worn several types of stays in the style of the 1790s-1810s. After six years, you'd think I'd have this down to a science, but I have yet to find a perfect regency support garment. One of the first historical garments I ever made was a pair of regency long stays, based on a diagram from Jean Hunnisett's Period Costumes for Stage and Screen. I was an extreme novice, and let's just say the result wasn't ideal. I made two versions--one was too long, and it dug into my thighs when I sat down. One was too short and it gouged my hips. The short stays I've tried were better, but none of the three pairs I made had quite the support I was looking for. They've lasted me a good long time, but this year I want to find The Perfect Pair. What it boils down to is that my criteria for my newest stays effort is:
- Ample bust support
- Smooths out belly
- No leg gouging
- No digging in anywhere, if possible
This is the first one I found. The original Gillray image was a satire of the long corsets that women wore, showing a stay coming down past a woman's buttocks and obviously being quite restrictive. This one interested me though because of the line over the hip--and, tabs. This is the only example I've seen of a tabbed long corset in this period, and seeing as it's a reprint of a satirical cartoon, I think it should be taken with a grain of salt. However, as
So this made me really excited, because here are four women wearing long stays, easily recognizable as your somewhat-typical style, and yet--check out the bottom edge. Every single one of them cuts up above the fullness of the hip and rear, while still coming down far enough in the front to smooth out the whole line of the torso.
In the closeup image, you can see the woman on the left a bit better; her stays don't even come down over her hips in the back. On the right, hers come down a bit farther, but they still have that intriguing front point, while clearly still showing the busk like you see on all those straight-across-the-bottom styles.
Credit for this find goes entirely to Samantha who first suggested the idea of a riding corset, and then turned up this extant example within 10 minutes of first mention. I don't know that I want to do a full-on riding corset, but it does show that there were definitely examples of stays that cut up over the hip, and still had a busk. Frankly, I wouldn't be caught dead riding sidesaddle, but the extra mobility would be great for doing other activities, too.
Courtesy of Nuranar's collection of fashion plates, which might be my favorite regency clothing reference ever, we have one more example of stays that are not straight across the bottom. These are cut a bit lower over the hips than the ones in Le Fureur des Corsets, and shaped with gores, but for sure higher in the back than in the front.
Still with me? Good! So with source material acquired, the next thing is patterning. Based on the images above, I'm going to try for a long stay with center front busk, bust gores, and a curved line across the bottom so that I get freedom of motion over the hip (aka, ability to sit, etc, without pokage) while still getting a smooth line down the front. That's for a new post, though!