Corsets & Codpieces: A Social History of Outrageous Fashion by Karen Bowman

By Karen Bowman

Take a clean examine historys hidden style mess ups and detect the tales at the back of historic clothing:
• How elimination a Medieval womans headdress might display her as a harlot
• Why Tudor males traded of their over-sized codpieces for corsets
• The ridiculous roof-raising result of four-foot excessive Georgian headgear
• How the crinoline brought on a spate of shoplifting between Victorian women
A interesting learn for fashionistas and background enthusiasts alike.

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Eventually realising his predicament, he made a hurried escape with both his ego and his hose deflating at an alarming rate. To ensure hose were properly ‘policed’ the Mayor of London ordered that civil officers of Westminster and outlaying towns and villages were appointed to interview all hosiers or tailors and explain the new rules applying to the size of gentlemen’s hose. It was suggested in no uncertain terms that should an individual not comply with the new ruling he would be heavily fined and ‘suffered no more to continue his occupation’.

That may have been so but eventually masks permeated into all levels of society, with ladies of all ranks adopting them, primarily as protection. Apart from covering pox marks and other blemishes, women were concerned about their complexions when riding or out in a carriage and did not relish garnering a glow from the sun. It does seem strange to us today but in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries it was desirable to appear pale and plump, a sign that your husband could afford for you to stay indoors and not engage in manual labour.

The issue is a fine web, which feeds the pride of the whole globe; which surrounds with its fine border cloaks and tuckers, and shows grandly round the throats and hands of Kings. 42 Sumptuous Stuarts Lace and flamboyant costume were the trademarks of the Cavaliers. Antique print. (Author’s collection) 43 Corsets and Codpieces Lace adorned everything – collars, cuffs and stocking tops – and soon became a most valuable commodity. It created a lucrative trade for the smuggler, who had been known to ‘import’ it into the country in objects as diverse as corsets and coffins.

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