Tuesday, December 24, 2013

JADG - News of Bodice-Heaving Import

In every Jane Austen movie, some news arrives which causes great consternation or jubilation among the ladies. Between all the excitement and the tightness of some corsetry, bosoms heave, which results in women fanning themselves rapidly and sinking into chairs. In the Jane Austen Drinking Game, the arrival of such news, the heaving of bodices, and the use of the word "import", all deserve a drink.

One of the things I love about Regency era clothing is the more sensible undergarments. Women did wear corsets, but only to achieve a smooth appearance. Without a defined waistline in clothing (another plus for me), there was no need to squeeze the body into an unnatural shape. From around 1800 to 1830, undergarments kept the bust in place (up!) and everything else under control. I enjoy watching the newer Austen movies and observing the costuming. Particularly during dancing scenes, when the body is in motion, one can see the outline of the corset under the gown. This is a very unstructured corset from about 1810, suitable for a slimmish figure. One of the favorites for modern Regency costumers to make is this bra-style garment. It's all that's needed for slim young women. If a bit more control is needed, there's this model, still quite comfortable.

By 1830, all naturalness was gone: suddenly, wide shoulders, a tiny waist, and wide skirts were the rage, and women laced up to pull in the midsection. It was an awful trend that continued into the next century. That's when women carried smelling salts in pockets and purses, and divans and recamiers were called "fainting couches". Smelling salts were aromatic substances mixed with ammonia salts, put in small bottles, and waved under the nose of a fainting person. A good whiff of ammonia will perk you up right away!

It looks like a three-drink day for the Ackermann girls!

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