Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace
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Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Bit of History on Drawers (See the drawers I made!)

Front of a pair of drawers I made.
 I love this history of underwear! I have so much fun with it :) Today, I wanted to give you just a tidbit on women's drawers.

Drawers came about in the late 18th century for females, however they weren't a commonality until around 1830 when women began to wear drawers/pantaloons/pantalettes almost all the time.

Back of the drawers.
Drawers were calf to ankle or knee length, made mostly of linen or silk. They were however used more widely by the upper class than the lower class. So ladies…we’ve technically only been wearing some form of underwear for 181 years to cover our lady parts down under…not that long… and if our ancestors weren’t nobles—which mine were Irish dairy farmers… it may have been that women in your family were only wearing underwear for maybe a century or so.

There is a difference between drawers, pantaloons and pantalettes. Drawers were shorter. Depending on your social status/wealth, the craftsmanship, fabric and frills would be completely different. Most drawers were crotchless. Why you ask? Have you ever helped a woman lift her wedding gown and shimmy down her panties to pee?  It is a TASK!  If only the bride would have gone commando or worn crotchless undies. Ah-ha! So, it made certain tasks much easier, you see? I'm sure their male counterparts were also pleased :)

Shows the "crotchless" section of the drawers.
Pantaloons and pantalettes often had pretty lace and embroidery along the bottoms—much like on the sample drawers I made, and were meant to be seen when a woman lifted her skirts, to say, walk over a puddle or up some stairs. Pantalettes, were not only crotchless, they were in fact two separate pieces that covered the legs and tied around the waist. Pantaloons, were more like an extended version of the drawers—coming down to the ankles.

Hope you enjoyed this short lesson!



Stephanie said...

What is the point of wearing underwear if they are crotchless? Was it just to avoid flashing people?

Eliza Knight said...
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Eliza Knight said...

lol, I have a funny 19th century cartoon pic for you! It shows some ladies falling down the stairs and their "goods" hanging out. Actually I think the biggest reason they started to wear them was for warmth. And propriety--even though being crotchless...

Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

I assume the crotchlessness was for easy access to going to the bathroom? Really enjoyed this post. I just wish we could see that 19th century cartoon Eliza was talking about!

Eliza Knight said...

Here is a link to the pic!


Krista D. Ball said...
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Krista D. Ball said...

(Let me try my comment again. Half of it got dropped...)

I've always been curious about how women handled their monthly cycle's mess without undies. Drawers make it rather easy to pin those towels into place...

I know that many cultures, women just bled down their legs and no one cared. That would also make sense in periods where women wore huge dresses and all that. I do find it interesting, however, once you hit the skimpier dresses of the Regency, since those have a lot less fabric to catch the mess, so to speak. And light colours were rather popular. Perhaps everyone just stayed home those nights?

Eliza Knight said...

You are right about the mess!

Women (not peasants and working class who HAD to work)often just stayed in bed, or laid around their rooms with rags stuffed between their legs. They were "indisposed". I am so glad for modern technology and tampons! Although, I wouldn't mind an excuse to lay around for several days a month :)

Krista D. Ball said...

I think I'm going to adopt this trend :D