Muslin, Pima cotton, recycled calico from an old dress
Hemmed shorter than your dress.
Can be plain or
decorated with embroidery or tucks.
|"Fancey Chemise". Godey's Lady Book, 1862
The chemise is a basic undergarment. It protects your outer garment and, when wearing a corset,
serves as a buffer between your skin and the corset
Patterns are available or simple instructions for making a chemise
are available on Elizabeth Stewart Clark’s web site.
Always white and can be plain
with no decoration or as elaborate with tucks or embroidery.
Made of muslin, Pima cotton
or fine linen.
It can be sleeveless or with sleeves and is loose bodied.
Worn between the thigh and knee.
There are two camps regarding how to wear it--either tucked into the drawers or left out over the drawers.
This decision is entirely up to you.
Some type of foundation garment
should be worn, whether it is a fully boned corset or working stays. These garments will give you not only support but also
the the proper shape of a woman from the 1860s. Generally, a corset is appropriate for most impressions in Texas. Stays, on the other hand would be
most appropriate in a working impression or an impression of a lower class woman.
Not intended to make small waist, but rather hold everything in place
Gussetted or shaped
Usually out of coutil
Could have been
different colors, usually white or beige
Hooked with busk in front, laced
Usually store bought
No matter your impression or the style of your wardrobe, a petticoat will always
be used. This garment is necessary to give the proper fullness to your dress especially if you do not choose to wear a hoop.
Depending on your impression, you may want more than just one petticoat. If you are wearing hoops a modesty
petticoat under the hoops is a necessity along with one to two petticoats over the hoops. If your impression is that of a
working class or poor woman, one to two petticoats under your dress is fine.
A corded petticoat will give you a little more fullness
without wearing a hoop.
There is currently discussion on how prevalent the
corded petticoat was by the time of the Civl War. However, it does offer an alternative, especially for a lower class
Drawers (not pantalettes or bloomers)
Drawers are not a necessity; they were just coming into fashion
as the crinoline appeared. If you choose to wear them, you will find that authentically constructed drawers (without a crotch
seam) are much more convenient than modern underwear while wearing period clothes. Elizabeth Stewart Clark’s web site also includes instructions for drawer construction.
Worn to just below the knee to mid-calf
Optional unless wearing hoops
Usually buttoned at the back
Made of white cotton, muslin
Can be plain or fancy with tucks, embroidery, or whitework
Has shoulder straps
Fabric often cotille, drill, or sateen
Less confining than corset
Cords and gussets create shape
Laced either front