Historically Accurate Bodice-Rippers

The lovemaking scenes in romance novels set in the Victorian era often describe the rending of corsets and petticoats as the lovers rush to consummate their passion. Er, at least, that's what I've been told by people who read such works. Anyway, many romance novel authors would like for their stories to be historically accurate, right down to the specific layers of clothing worn by ladies of that time period. For their benefit, Deeanne Gist recently presented a workshop to authors who wanted to get the details right:

It took an hour for Ms. Gist to squeeze into a dozen layers that a lady would have worn in the 1860s—stockings, garters, bloomers, chemise, corset, crinoline or hoop skirt, petticoats, a shirtwaist or blouse, skirt, vest and bolero jacket. By the end, workshop attendees were skeptical that seductions ever occurred, with so many sartorial barriers.

"How did they ever have hanky panky?" asked novelist Annie Solomon.

With great effort, it turns out. Women wore blouses under their corsets—making actual bodice ripping fairly pointless. Corsets fastened in front and laced up the back and couldn't be undone in a single passionate gesture. "You'll see pictures of corsets on bare skin. That's completely historically inaccurate," Ms. Gist told her audience.


Link -via Althouse | Image: Longmire

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