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18th Century Underwear Quotes & Links | History of Fashion Design

18th Century Underwear Quotes & Links

“The Females’ Fancy Garland”

 You beautiful ladies, that follow the mode,
Wherever you live or take up your abode,
Pray what is the reason you wear such a load
As hoop’d petticoats, monstrous petticoats, bouncing hoop’d petticoats maids?

Black patches, and towers of powdered hair,
Which long time you have been accustomed to wear,
I think on my conscience could never compare
With hoop’d petticoats, monstrous petticoats, bouncing petticoats, maids.

Whenever they pass through the midst of a throng.
The people cries out, lest they suffer much wrong,
“Make room for the madams now trudging along,
With hoop’d petticoats, bouncing hoop’d petticoats maids.”

These were not found out in our forefathers days,
But finding them useful in sundry ways,
Pray let all sing in the petticoats praise,
Large hoop’d petticoats, delicate petticoats, bouncing hoop’d petticoats, maids!

A mid-18th Century rhyme, quoted by S.W. Fairholt in Satirical Songs and Poems on Costume.

“My dear Louisa, you will laugh when I tell you that poor Winifred, who was reduced to be my gentlewoman’s gentlewoman broke two laces in endeavoring to draw my new French stays closed. You know I am naturally small at bottom, but now you might literally span me. You never saw such a doll. Then they are so intolerably wide across the breast, that my arms are absolutely sore with them; and my sides are so pinched! But it is the ‘ton’ and pride feels no pain. It is with these sentiments the ladies of the present age heal their wounds; to be admired is a sufficient balsam.”

Quote on 1780’s corsets in Waugh’s Corsets and Crinolines

“Cork Rumps are necessary to counter-balance the extraordinary natural weight which some ladies carry before them.”

“It was impossible she should sink — she owed her life to the cork rump, the use of which I recommend to all ladies who love boating.”

Early stays from Leloir:

plate1medium English boned bodices from the Museum of London. Museum of London – Costume Collection

plate23medium French Stays and stomachers, 1710-20 from the Musee du Costume, Paris Galliera.

51_stays Diagram of a boned bodice/stays.

52_1715stays Pattern of a c.1715 pair of stays


Many authors of modern historical Romances have a way of meticulously costuming their 18th Century heroines for their activities in the ballroom and drawing rooms, but conveniently forgetting the awkwardness of such attire in the bedroom. In order to live up their racy titles and covers, Romantic fiction portrays 18th Century passion as occurring as rapidly as if every dress seam was merely closed with Velcro, and corsets were fastened with zippers.




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