Stays

Stays In the 18th century, stays were worn to reshape the upper female torso into the conical ideal. High fashion stays with shoulder straps were designed to create a straight, rigid line from bosom to navel (and beyond), compress and widen the bosom, narrow the back, and elongate and reduce the waistline. Stays were the basic foundation garment upon which all outer garments were built.

From comments of the time among the fashionable, shape was more important than comfort. However, not all 18th century women dressed in high fashion. Many pairs of strapless stays have survived which have no shoulder straps. That means the stays did not restrict movement of the shoulders and upper arms or narrow the back. Based on observation, strapless stays also have larger waistlines than strapped stays, which means they were designed to mold a less conical and more tubular shape. They were also probably more comfortable.

 

These strapless, fully-boned stays are designed to reshape the torso in the same way the originals did two hundred years ago. They are also designed to be worn on a modern 20th century body. Like the original strapless 18th c. stays, these stays do not compress the lower ribcage or the waistline.

This original pattern incorporates features from extant 18th century stays in the collections of The National Museum of American History, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and a private collector.
Pattern sizes

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