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Sound Advice to Mothers and Governesses - Part Two
The best means to anchor the corset at the bottom, firmly
and securely, is by means of boot straps. Six strong leather
straps should be sewn and riveted to the bottom of corset
two in front, two on the sides and two in back. These straps
should be drawn through buckles sewn and riveted to
thigh-length kid corset-boots. The buckles should be attached
to the boots about six inches above the knees. The boot
straps should be drawn up tightly enough to prevent upwards
movement of the corset on the figure
The corset-boots which must be most carefully fitted,
should be lightly boned to prevent wrinkling. Five light flexible
bones reaching from the shoe part of the boot to the boot top
are sufficient for this purpose. The boots should be very long,
fitted up to the line where the upper thigh joins the torso. The
shoe of the boot should be designed with a short vamp, high
arch, and high heel, a two-inch Louis heel is high enough for
the beginner. The interior of the shoe should be carefully
padded to prevent foot irritations and should fit the foot very
closely. Such a fitting will tend to inhibit growth of the feet.
When the shoe portion of the boot is properly fitted and
laced, the wearer should not be able to move her toes or any
part of her foot within the shoe. The boot above the shoe
must be closely laced to shape and confine the ankle calf,
knee and thigh. The midpoint of the thigh between knee and
torso should measure one inch smaller with a tight tape over
the laced boots than without them.
(Sound Advice continues in the Forbidden Library, for adults only)
or champigny, as it's sometimes called, was a popular shoe fashion that first originated in Spain in the 15th century and later became popular in Italy and France in the 16th century. A more extreme example of today's platform shoe, these chopines were shoes with platform soles up to three feet high! They were so high, in fact, that the women who wore them often required the assistance of others to prevent them from falling. The wife of Philip V of Spain required the assistance of two courtiers when she donned her chopines! Of course, only the wealthy could afford the luxury of hobbling themselves to the point of requiring ambulatory assistance.
Th practice of keeping the hands almost constantly covered, either by gloves or mittens, served not only to make their real size less evident, but also to render them soft and white, an essential refinement. The shades of kid used, even by men, were very pale, principally lemon, lavendar, and dove-grey - a fashion so deliberately and unmistakably opposed to utility that no one could doubt its origins in a desire to maintain social distinction.
16-button: 22 to 23 inches long - this is the classic OPERA length.
Traditionally, opera gloves should not be put on in public, but should be donned in the privacy of one's home before going out. This tradition arose from necessity as the 19th century glove was always one size too small for the wearer and the trying task of getting a large hand into a small glove took skill. Fashionably attired women often took hours to work their hand into a glove, aided by the use of powdered alum and a buttonhook. It was desirable for a lady's hand to appear half cupped, so that when she presented it to a gentleman there was a half moon shaped pink mound of flesh in the center of her palm. This debilitated ladies from shaking hands, or gasp! presenting a fist to be kissed.
According to Madame de la Maitresse:
One morning, when Patricia had been laced
to fifteen and three-quarters inches and was getting used to the six-foot train of the elaborate black silk evening gown her aunt had had her dressed in, a maid suddenly popped into the ballroom to announce that Miss de la Coudière required her wards attendance in her bedroom, and would Patricia like to come up directly. Patricia knew better than to refuse: she hoisted up the front of her skirt a few inchesand no more: enough to show her feet but not her anklesand with Braithwaite behind her made her slow and elegant way up the stairs to Aunt Pollys rooms.
from Aunt Polly's Ward by Stephen
While some of the correspondents mention how they were laced so tightly in school and that the teachers were also tight laced. And as in those days I had the misfortune to be an instructress in a fashionable school, where, as some of the letters state, figure training was more important than any other forms of studies prescribed.
The Head Mistress was always gloved to the shoulders in gloves so tight she could barely close her hands to grasp anything. So stiffly were we corsetted and gloved, that if we let anything drop it was impossible to pick it up again. If we did we had to grasp hold of a chair or table and lower ourselves very slowly, holding on with both hands.
"One must suffer to be beautiful"
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