Monday, December 22, 2014

Felicity's Christmas Gown and Stomacher

Hey guys!
      I am going to talk about the dress that came with the Fashion Doll and Invitation that I got in an Ebay bundle, and for your history lesson I am going to talk about a unique part of this gown, the stomacher. Stomachers were in style from the 15th century to the 18th century. It is a stiff piece (usually stiffened with whale bone or wooden slats) of triangular fabric that basically closes the front of the gown. At one point in its history, it may have served an actual purpose but in the 18th century it was purely a fashion statement.
      In the past I have heard stories about stomachers purpose, I have heard that they were used because people back then rarely bathed and they also didn't have many dresses so it was meant to "freshen up" the dress.
     Okay...this is a load of bull for the following reasons..

  • Most rich and high society women wore stomachers.
  • If you didn't shower... the smell from your stomach and chest would be the least of your concerns. I think there are other parts of your body that would make a "fresh" stomacher useless.                          
    Another reason I have heard is shape, The stomacher gives women a narrow wasted illusion. I believe this was an accurate reason for the 18th century usage.
      Stomachers also provided structure. The stiff stomacher forced women to have amazing posture which of course in history was extremely important. In many cases, women wearing stomachers were not able to sit down.
    Anyways... Just like my purchase, most 18th century gowns were in one of two particular styles, this one is called robe à l'anglaise and the other is called Robe à la Française and they consisted of three main parts. There is the main piece of the dress that you put on like a robe which is why it is called... the robe. Then there is the petticoat, the skirt portion. And the stomacher. The stomacher attaches to either the robe or sometimes directly to the corset underneath. The stomachers that came with Felicity's gown attaches to the robe using buttons. In colonial times there were several ways they were attached. Some stomachers were actually stitched onto the dress, some were pinned to the corset underneath, and some were attached to the dress using buttons, ribbons, etc. In earlier times, the gowns were laced shut over the stomacher, like the style of a corset.

      Stomachers in high society were usually a work of art. Usually embellished with embroidery, lace, bows, jewels etc. Felicity's gown came with two stomachers. One with white lace (which is my favorite of the two), and the other with pink bows cascading down the front (this style is called en échelle) and it is embellished with pearls and some white lace on the top. 

Felicity's Stomachers
     This is a great example of how different stomachers are used on the same dress because like these two, some were made to match and complement the gown (just like the white lace one) and others are made to stand out from the gown and draw attention (Just like the pink one.)

           So that is that. Let me tell you about the rest of the gown. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, it has three main parts. The robe, the petticoat, and the stomacher. In this case there are two stomachers. The gown is a beautiful blue color and I really think this color complements Felicity extremely well. There is white lace on the neckline and ruffled on the sleeves. The skirt is very full, it looks as if she is wearing the traditional 18th century false hips underneath even when she is not. There is a necklace made of ribbon with a singular dangling pearl. Then there is a pinner cap worn on her head. It is white with white lace and a blue bow and can be attached with a bobby pin. I can honestly say, now that I own this dress and have seen it in person, this is my favorite outfit of Felicity's and in my opinion it is historically accurate. 
     Below are pictures of the gown in detail. I hope you have enjoyed this history lesson and I hope you all have Happy Holidays! Feel free to leave comments, I love receiving feedback! 





1 comment:

  1. Is there a name for the open area on hem of the gown?