Clothing,  History,  Isobel Carr,  Regency,  Research,  Risky Regencies

First Post as a “Risky”

comfort 1815 no drawers
Comfort, 1815


I’ve been mulling over ideas for my first “official” post as a Risky, and in the end, I’m falling back on clothing (shocking, I know, LOL!). I thought I’d do a post about “risky” clothing, or drawers. After all, what’s more risky than a risqué garment that we now think of as a necessity!

Knee-length drawers are reported to have been worn by women as early as the turn of the 19th century, but they were considered fast and unladylike, and were not commonly adopted from what I can tell. I’ve consulted with a lot of costume historians and museum curators over the years, and none of them see them as a common garment in the records, household accounts, or as extant garments before the Victorian period, really.

1810 2nd verision gilray drawers

They had a split crotch, usually being made up of two entirely separate legs on a drawstring waistband. An illustration from 1810 (included below) shows a lady wearing them, so it can be construed that they were somewhat accepted by then, but I do wonder as other images in the series seem to concentrate on highlighting the more deceptive aspects of a woman’s toilette (such as wigs).


Woven linen drawers, c. 1820


The extant pairs we DO have from the Regency all seem to date from the 1820s. They have a split crotch, usually being made up of two entirely separate legs on a drawstring waistband.

An illustration from 1810 shows a lady wearing them, so it can be construed that they were becoming more accepted by then, but I would still hazard that they were not a universal.

stare case
Exhibition Stare Case, 1811 Click for a larger image!

And I would make that guess because of other images that clearly show them as not being worn (such as Comfort at the top of the post and Exhibition Stare Case, left).

So it’s always worth remembering that the daring, fast, risky move in the Regency period was to put on a pair of drawers. I’d love to see a book where the hero is scandalized by discovering his lady love’s undies, and I fully expect that if anyone can write that book, it’s one of the marvelous women I now share this blog with.

I look forward to seeing what everyone comes up with to talk about in 2015!


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Diane Gaston
7 years ago

Welcome, Isobel! It is such a treat to have you with us as a real Risky!

What a hoot. Wearing drawers was “fast” but wearing nothing was ladylike.

The Exhibition Stare Case was hilarious!

ki pha
ki pha
7 years ago

Welcome Isobel! I swear I thought you were already a part of this group but maybe that was on another author blog? But anyways, it would fabulous to see drawers in romance be as scandalous a thing as itIsaac in history. But for the hero to be scandalized by it, I think not! He may even be intrigued because that just shows how scandalous and different the heroine is from her outside appearance. Maybe you can even be the one to write that story~ =)

Elena Greene
7 years ago

It’s great having you here, Isobel! Your site has always been one of my go-tos for costuming issues. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge.

7 years ago

Very interesting reading.

7 years ago

Yay! More places for me to stalk Isobel and her clothing posts. Love this post, especially the photos. I look forward to seeing more from you here at the Riskies.

Janet Mullany
7 years ago

Welcome to the Riskies, Isobel!

As a PS, I believe drawers were split crotch well into the 20c. Why go out of your way to create laundry problems?

7 years ago

Thanks for the great post!!! Wonderful to see you here. And gosh, I’d never seen the print of the lady warming her posterior. That is racy indeed!


[…] gab eine Zeit, da galt es als unladylike, als Frau Unterhosen zu tragen. Auf “Risky Regencies” schreibt Isobel Carr über die […]

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