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  • Place of origin:

    England (possibly, made)
    France (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1790 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cotton with silk embroidery, boning, and lined with linen

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Short diaphragm-length pair of stays (corset) with pointed tabs about the bottom. White cotton, boned, lined with white linen and stitched with black thread. Bones held in with back stitch, but gathered breast gussets edged with embroidered silk specks (originally pale blue) and there are scalloped bands under the arm. Central bone accented with white silk ribbon lacing (decorative). Padded and stiffened tabs attached to back edges of back-lacing in back, probably to act as a bustle or dress support.

Place of Origin

England (possibly, made)
France (possibly, made)


ca. 1790 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Cotton with silk embroidery, boning, and lined with linen


Circumference: 80 cm bust, Circumference: 57 cm waist, just above tabs/lower ribs, Height: 18 cm front, Height: 27 cm back

Descriptive line

Short diaphragm-length pair of stays (corset) of cotton with silk embroidery, boning, and lined with linen, possibly made in France or England, ca. 1790

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; Silk thread; Boning; Ribbon, silk


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


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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