Unmentionable and Never Seen: Foundations of the 19th Century Woman
Merchant's House Museum, 29 East Fourth Street, New York, 10003
In order to achieve the ever-changing silhouette of the season, women were trussed, lifted, and caged to fit properly into their gowns. Indeed, it was the foundation garments that gave women their shape and support throughout the day and made the fashions of the period possible.
The under-linens (chemises, corset covers, drawers, and petticoats) worn by 19th century women like the Tredwells were often embellished with hand embroidery and lace and were as beautiful to see as the dresses that covered them. The structural garments (corsets, crinolines, and bustles) were feats of engineering. All proper women wore them daily.