Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Victorian Ensemble: Where's the Corset?

I've been working in the Victorian garden this weekend and, prepare yourselves readers, I did not wear the proper undergarments.

I love my properly made corset, but I spend my days gardening. That does not mean strolling around cutting flowers; Sunday morning I was twisted around a mountain laurel bush trying to pull out a maple tree that was growing up through it while trying not to: get my skirt and petticoats snagged on the brambles, have my bonnet ripped off by the laurel, and get goosed by the yucca plant growing below. While I could have done it in a corset, my oxygen intake would have been severely limited, and I'd have been no good for the afternoon of weeding that was on my agenda.

When I talked to my boss a few weeks ago about the fact that I was having trouble balancing the two parts of my job, interacting with museum visitors and completing all the things on the garden checklist, he told me I was there to garden, and include people in the garden experience. Making my clothing decision from there was heartbreaking, but necessary.

For a while I wore a modern elastic-sided corset instead, but that was too small in the arm scythe and was not giving me the correct shape. What I really should do is make a corded corset or riding corset that will allow me to bend at the waist, but I only have so much time for sewing, and that is not on my list of projects I MUST complete this year.

Luckily the bodice I made is fairly rigid, and most of our guests are regular Americans on their vacations. Anyone have any suggestions? I'm gonna put a few boning channels in the lining of my dress bodice if I can't come up with anything else soon.

1 comment:

  1. I've done some research into 19 social history and met the term "lady gardeners".

    From what I understand you are doing a lot more than would be expected of a 19 cent. lady gardener - they (fashionable ones) limited themselves to asking the servant gardener to lay out the tools for you, you then did a little work and the gardener put the tools away for you. Clearly as a lady you would not expect to do heavy work - as you say you did in your post.

    There were lady gardeners in the 19 C who did some of the heavier work. I suspect that they wore a corset (of course, totally irresponsible not to do so!), but it would have been short, lightly boned and not tight.