So I ordered the stays from Townsend after making a pair of my own, but not wanting to finish them up. Well they finally came. I tried them on and they are super comfortable, I really like them. The only problem I have is that they are a medium and I can lace them up such that both the back and the front lacings are closed completely. I was reading something on the Internet that someone preferred to have a gap. I am trying to lose a few pounds so I am a bit concerned that if I lose anything these will be too big. So then I got to thinking that maybe I don’t need to lace them as tight, so I started doing some reading on the web about how to properly wear stays and I found some interesting articles. Here are some of the things I found:
Stays vs. Jumps
And here’s a quote from a site that really made me stop and think. This is from Mara Riley:
“I think many women resist wearing stays because they think that stays will be uncomfortable -- they associate them with the scene in "Gone With the Wind" where Scarlett is being laced into her corset. Nothing could be further from the truth. A good-fitting corset should be snug enough not to move around much on the body, but you should be able to breathe while wearing it (you may need to loosen your stays a little if you plan on dancing vigorously, of course). And stays for women who expected to work in them were cut differently from those worn by upper-class women; the armscyes were bigger, and allowed for more arm movement.”
That really made me think about what I was doing. See when I started reenacting the 1700s, I didn’t know much about the women, all I knew about women wearing corsets was what I had seen in Gone with the Wind or Titanic. (Silly I know, but hey that’s all I had!) So when I started thinking about stays for RevWar, I assumed that they should be tied as tight as those women, but apparently they shouldn’t be. As Mara was saying, it needs to be tight enough not to move, but it’s not there to make my waist small, it’s there to give me a shape. So when I tried on the stays from Townsend, I may have just been pulling them too tight. I also noticed form the pictures link above, that many of the women in the paintings don’t have the heaving bust like you see in later periods. The stays of this period were really meant to give a flatter more cylindrical look to the torso. We may not find that look as “appealing” nowadays, but since I am striving for authenticity, I am going to try and go more for that flat, cylindrical, but able to still breath, look. So I will try my stays on again and try not pulling them so tight and see if that works better for me. I love learning new things!!
Believe me yours faithfully,
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