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The Age of Deception
Eighteenth century fashion required conformation to unrealistic ideals. Lest you think only women fell prey to the urge to be more or less than they naturally were, let me assure you men indulged in deceptive fashion, too. Both sexes wore wigs and face paint. Men and women wore 'beauty spots' to cover small-pox scars or evidence of sexually transmitted disease. Well-developed calves were prized in men, so spindly- legged fellows wore wooden 'falsies' in their stockings. Women's figures were manipulated into the shape favored by fashion through tight binding in some instances and heavy padding in others.
A lady's costume started with a chemise, a thin slip-like garment. This was covered by a heavily-boned corset that flattened the breasts and shoved them up into the "rising moons" position. A gown's neckline might be cut so low that the nipples were displayed as part of the décolletage. Georgians did not fetish-ize breasts, so a well-bred lady was just as likely as a courtesan to show her nipples in public.
I probably wouldn't have believed this startling fact if I hadn't seen a Georgian miniature in a schloss (castle) when I visited Germany. Sure enough, the lady was depicted with two little pink dots peeping above her gown's low neckline.
Next, the panniers would be attached to a lady's hips. This contraption of wire and horse-hair might expand the width of the woman's hips so much, she'd be forced to turn sideways to fit through doorways. If the lady needed additional derrière enhancement, she'd wear a "bumroll" made of carved cork. It was said a woman wearing one could never drown.
Stockings of silk or cotton were gartered at the knee. This completed the undergarments of the Georgian woman. I know what you're thinking. What? No undies? That's right. No undies. This was probably handy for quickie trysts in the garden, but with the yards of a woman's skirts held out with panniers, I expect a lady would feel naked from the waist down most of the time.
Lady's gowns were tightly fitted in the bodice, but might be loosely flowing in the back. This draped style was known as a sack dress. The stomacher on the front of the gown was frequently ornamented with bows of descending size from the bosom to the waist.
In HOW TO VEX A VISCOUNT, Daisy Drake wears 6 inch high Venetian platform shoes as part of her courtesan disguise. These were actually quite conservative. Some women tottered along on 22 inch chopines until a maximum height of 11 inches was mandated by law. In a time when streets frequently doubled as sewers, platform shoes might have made a good deal of sense.
It just goes to show, practical platforms notwithstanding, fashion makes fools of us all!
HOW TO VEX A VISCOUNT:
Length: 458 KB
Publisher: Novel Ideas (September 9, 2012)
As children they sparred with wooden swords and Lucian Beaumont has the scar to
prove it. Now that he and his old nemesis Daisy Drake are all grown up, the real battle is only beginning!
Daisy never quite got over her fascination with Lucian. Now that he's Viscount Rutland, she won't rest till she helps him find the Roman treasure he seeks.
Whether he wants her help or not!
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Mia Marlowe’s TOUCH OF A THIEF is a Kindle Top 100 for $3.99! You won’t want to miss the romance New York Times Bestseller Victoria Alexander calls “Absolutely terrific!” Especially at this price, but you’d better hurry. The deal is over at the end of the month!
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