Women of good morals wore no drawers! July 24, 2014 11:59

One more post inspired by the “Undressed: 350 years of underwear in fashion” exibihion.
Drawers were not universally worn during the early nineteenth century.  Underdrawers were considered risque, as the garments resembled men’s pant legs and so were regarded as being for prostitutes and women of loose morals only. Women of good morals wore no drawers!

However with the onset of the cage crinoline in the 1850s, it became essential to wear drawers, for warmth for one thing and due to the risk of embarrassing accidents. The crinoline had a tendancy to tip up with wind, when a lady was getting out of a carriage or entering a room where the doors were too narrow!

Queen Victoria drawers

Queen Victoria drawers – unpacked at Bendigo Art Gallery

Queen Victoria drawers

Queen Victoria drawers – ready for the exhibition

Drawers were bought in dozens and they were numbered, so lady’s maid could make sure none of drawers were worn out more than than the others.

Queen Victoria drawers number six

Queen Victoria drawers – number six

Underlinens, such as the chemise, drawers, petticoats, corset covers and combinations, protected the valuable corset (which was an outer garment at that time), dress and outer clothing from the body. Outer garments were not easily cleaned whereas the undergarments could be regularly laundered.   The undergarments also provided a layer of warmth. Structural underwear, such as corsets, bustles, crinolines and bust-improvers, created the fashionable silhouettes of the day.

No wonder then that the well to do lady required the aid of at least one maid to assist her in the preparation and maintenance of her wardrobe!

All photos are by Glenn Daniels