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  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)
    France (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    1795-1800 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cotton, linen, silk, baleen; hand-woven, hand-sewn

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Woman’s stays of white cotton twill, lined with linen, bound with linen twill tape and stitched with linen thread. They reach to the bottom of the ribs with unboned skirts at the bottom edge and a squared point at the front and back. They are partially boned and back opening with 8 worked lacing holes on either side. The stays are cut in 8 pieces with a 3/16-inch (3mm) wide white silk ribbon covering the front and side seams. The cups at the front are insertions of 2 layers of cotton twill stitched with 3 horizontal casings with drawstrings, but no openings for adjustment. There is decorative lacing at the centre front and small rectangular pads on each side at the back to add volume to the back of the gown. The shoulder straps have been unstitched at the front.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)
France (possibly, made)


1795-1800 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Cotton, linen, silk, baleen; hand-woven, hand-sewn


Circumference: 80 cm Bust - measured inside garment, Circumference: 56 cm Waist, just above tabs/lower ribs - measured inside garment, Height: 18 cm front, Height: 27 cm back, Circumference: 57.5 cm Underbust - measured inside garment, Width: 28 cm Across back, Length: 31 cm Nape-waist, Length: 40 cm Nape-hem

Descriptive line

Woman's stays of cotton, 1795-1800, Britiish; gathered cups, back laced, partially boned

Labels and date

By the early 19th-century stay-makers had developed long corded corsets to suit the classical gowns of the period. However, shown here is the transitional phase between the old and new styles, between stays and corsets. Indeed, it was around this time that the term 'corset' started to be used as a refined name for stays. The Times of 24 June 1795 stated that: 'corsettes about six inches long...are now the only defensive paraphernalia of our fashionable belle'.

Transitional stays/corset
Britain, about 1795
Cotton with silk thread, whalebone, and silk ribbon, lined with linen
V&A: T.237-1983 [2013-2015]
A new style of stays

The construction of these stays reflects the higher waistline of around 1800. While they retain the hip tabs of earlier stays, they have been cut with gussets to support the breasts.

From the 1780s increasing numbers of women ran stay and corset making businesses. The newly fashionable lighter stays with fewer bones were easier for women to make than the earlier stays constructed from densely packed whalebone. In France these new stays were called corsets.

Britain, 1795-1805
Cotton, linen, whalebone (baleen), trimmed with silk ribbon
V&A: T.237-1983 [16/04/2016-12/03/2017]


Cotton (textile); Silk (textile); Baleen; Linen (material)


Hand weaving; Hand sewing


Underwear; Fashion; Women's clothes; Embroidery; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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