Monday, September 2, 2013

Hoops and Bustles and Corsets, Oh My! Part 2

I’m back... Celeste, are you ready for more Victorian fashion?
Previously we discussed the very socially strict Victorian society.  Women were considered Angels of the house and expected to dress appropriately.  This unfortunately led to the dreaded hoop skirt.  This following is a cartoonist’s exaggeration, but it makes one wonder.  However did they waltz in those things?

In my novel, Surrender Your Grace, my heroine had to deal with these bothersome cages early on, but not quite to this extent.  As intended, the hero had a difficult time getting to her naughty bottom, but good things come to those who wait.
How about another little snippet before we get to Celeste’s required reading?  You’ve heard of bodice rippers?  My naughty mind likes drawer rippers.   Bear in mind this is an abridged snippet.  There are more yummy bits between the paragraphs.  I can’t give it all away just yet, can I?   Let’s title the snippet – The Riding Lesson…

As he cuddled her close, his hands began to wander, caressing and teasing her until one found its way under her skirts.  Kissing her to distraction, he lifted the hem of her riding skirt and single petticoat. When he felt the drawers that started with a gathering just below her knee, he prayed that she wore the old fashioned kind that remained open at the juncture of the thighs.  He smiled against her throat as his fingers sought out and gratefully found the open seam.

He then shifted his hands under her skirt and a loud ripping sound was heard as he eliminated her already shredded drawers, the only barrier between his hands and her glorious backside. Gripping her full cheeks firmly, he squeezed as he pulled her down, sheathing himself in her incredibly moist heat.  “Now I want you to ride me,” he whispered hoarsely, his desire for her written clearly across his face.  His experienced hands quickly taught her the rhythm as they both took their pleasure.

As promised, back to the history of Victorian fashion…
By the later 1860’s, thankfully the style had  progressed, the skirts were pulled back to reveal an underskirt and was followed by the bustle, which was introduced in 1869 and credited to designer Charles Worth from the House of Worth.
To me, these gowns are lovely, stylish and so much less cumbersome than the full hoops of just 10 years prior.  The fabrics are beautiful and with the corset, the waistlines are tiny.  It’s no wonder our heroines are always breathless, gasping and swooning.  A lady would always need to carry vinaigrette in her reticule in case of a swoon or a case of the vapors.  


That brings us to the Victorian undergarments including the lovely corset.  In this era, women were definitely considered delicate creatures and thought of as the weaker sex, with weak minds and bodies.  Unbelievably, the corset was deemed medically necessary and a tight lacing healthful and supportive of the woman’s weak constitution.  As a moral issue, a loose corset was the sign of loose woman. 

Women of the day purposefully dressed in layers upon layers of clothing that was difficult to get out of, and into, as a protective measure against the “lustful nature” of men.  Oh those poor misguided Victorians, but I do love them so.  Unfortunately, the outsmarted themselves, the women finding that it was so difficult to get out of the blasted things.  So, they altered their undergarments for ease and comfort.  Imagine a trip to the ladies retiring room without split seamed drawers.  Back in the day, they would hike up their skirts and straddle the pot or the privy or the rare commode of the day.  Since mine I deal in romantic fantasy, rest at ease, you will not find Her Grace hiking up her skirts to straddle anything but Andrew. 

With the invention of these drawers, the gentlemen of course got plenty of other ideas.  Skirts started flipping over heads and drawers untied to bare those naughty backsides for all the Victorian spanking implements, the birch rod, the cane, and as in the picture, the martinet (this is actually a French implement, but the drawers are perfect and I thought it a lovely, and quite titillating pic.)



I’ll end with a few words about Queen Victoria:

What I find truly amusing is that despite the moral code of the era, Victoria and her husband Prince Albert were very much in love and had nine children.  Remember this was an outwardly strict moral code for what should be seen and heard in public.  The queen was actually a very sensual and romantic woman in private, not to mention busy.  One can’t be a prude to beget nine children. 

Victoria was also an artist, and was known to have drawn several male nudes, one of which she gave to her husband as a gift.  The love that she had for her husband was so strong that after his sudden death in 1861, she went into 4 years of heavy mourning and structured the elaborate and severe rituals of the era.

Thank you so much, Celeste for inviting me to share.  The Victorian era is filled with many more fascinating cultural and social activities.   So, if you ever want to hear about slang, rhyming, the language of the fan and flowers, I’d be happy to return.  Or check out the links below.

For more information about the Victorian Era and fashion read “Surrender Your Grace”, although fiction, I have included historical facts from the era.  Available now from   or on Amazon @

Or visit some of these Victorian websites which were used for research in this article:


  1. Fascinating post. Interesting that the corset was deemed medically necessary and supportive while in reality, long-term used caused injury to internal organs. It makes me wonder about bras. They are deemed necessary for support and to keep breasts from sagging, but I read recently where they have the opposite effect and causing sagging breasts due to the lack of muscle tone that develops.

    And did you ever notice that the prettier/sexier the garment, more uncomfortable it is?

    Just my pragmatic side coming out!

  2. Very interesting post. Love history in whatever form.

  3. mmmm split drawers. So very handy.... :)


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