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Living in a Regency Corset July 19, 2010

Posted by ninapaules in Writing, Writing Life.
Tags: , , ,

Yup, I’ve spent time in a Regency Corset.  Days, in fact.   It is true; we writers will do the craziest of things to empathize with the characters living in our heads.  And since I can’t locate a time-traveler willing to drop me off in 1815 England,  where I’ve relocated my 21st century heroine, I made a corset. 

Well, actually my mom made it for me.  There it is on the left, with me in it.  That little stripped beauty is more comfortable than it looks, if you don’t mind not being able to bend at the waist, are willing to give up the right to raise your shoulders and (in my case) see your feet when you look down.

Without doubt, wearing a Regency corset proved to me that the world has changed.  First off, dressing in private, as we do now, was definitely not a luxury enjoyed by women during the Regency.  It really does require a lady’s maid (or a sister, aunt, or willing friend) to work those laces up your back.   But, freeing one’s self from its boned confines is entirely possible without the help of a sexy hero, much to his chagrin.   Though it is always advisable to play nice because you will need him come morning, if you plan to get dressed. 

So, what does if feel like to be laced up in a Regency corset? 

I think I’ll let my poor, unfortunate, relocated (or would that be dislocated) 21st century heroine, Sara Kensington, field that one.

From Loves Freedom

     “M’lady, please” Peg murmured, “be still.”  The corset strings pulled tighter.  Sara turned back to the mirror before her, the boned garment claiming her attention as it slimmed her hips.

     “You must lift your arms, now,  if I’m to complete the lacing.”

     Sara mutely obeyed, watching her tummy flatten, her hourglass waist grow narrower, and her DD’s globe out from the shallow cups like two ripe honeydews destined to be plucked from the grocer’s self.  “Peg.  This can’t be —“

     “I’m sorry, m’lady.”  Peg went to her knees and began tugging the undergarment’s knee-length hem.  “The chemise has risen out of place.  I’ve not worked with one quite so fine as this.”  She continued tugging.  “I’ll have the right of it in a moment.”  And the garment’s wide neckline kept slipping, to just above her areoles. 

     Peg popped up in front of her and grinned, brightly.  “There now.  His lordship should be rightly pleased by that.” 

     Sara nearly flushed to her toes. 

     Peg kept going; flipping the corset’s offset straps forward, threading the ribbons at the ends through small holes near the shallow cups.  Then she tugged, sending Sara’s shoulders straight back, intensifying his lordship’s preferred globing affect.  Sara rapped the ruler thick piece of wood, now pressed between her breasts and running to just below her navel.  “Do you wish your ivory busk?” Peg asked, tying the restraining straps off in two neat bows

    “Nope.”  Ivory or wood, there’d be no bending at the waist, today.  Hopefully, when she tried to sit down at breakfast, she didn’t go flat on her back with legs flying up in the air. 

Tune in next time for Sitting in a Regency Corset.

Until then, what crazy thing have you done for your art just so you could get it right?  Do tell.  This inquiring mind wants to know.



1. Nicola Cornick - July 21, 2010

Fascinating, Nina! There’s nothing to beat the genuine experience of what your characters have to go through. My crazy things? Probably carriage driving (because I’ve been afraid of horses since I was bitten by one as a child) and fencing, because I’m a wimp when it comes to sharp objects. Helps to get inside a hero’s mind, though, and to understand the appeal of both activities.

2. ninapaules - July 21, 2010

Hi Nicola! Thanks for commenting. Carriage driving would be cool, but fencing… I so want to learn how to fence and how to use a long sword. I have how-to books I practice from, but it’s a far cry from going head to head with the the real thing.

3. Annie - July 21, 2010


Thank you for a very interesting blog. To put things into perspective we might say the same things today about putting on tight jeans and a wonderbra – not the most comfortable things to wear but essential if you want to look good.

You are right, I think about the shoulder straps pulling the shoulders back. We don’t value posture and ladylike movement today. In the Regency lack of good posture gave the message of “low breeding” so everyone cared very much.

What you don’t mention is that this lady would have worn stays from the age of 3 or earlier, so it would be natural for her.

Roll on the arrival of the “sitting” description.


4. ninapaules - July 21, 2010

Hello Annie —

Welcome to Raw & Dangerous. Thanks for commenting.

You are right, the binding jeans and uplifting bra required to look good in this time are often less than comfortable. I can only imagine how uncomfortable such garments would seem to a Regency lady. There is much freedom to be had in long skirts. (More on that in a few weeks)

And, while it is true that such a lady would have been introduced to stays soon after discarding her leading strings, my 21st century heroine is standing the past. Oh the things that can befall a newbie in Regency stays. (dare I admit most have happened to me?)


5. Linda Banche - July 22, 2010

I love it! I’ve read about corsets, although I’ve never worn one, and you describe exactly what I’ve read–but much funnier.

And you look great in your Regency outfit.

ninapaules - July 22, 2010

Thanks Linda! 🙂

6. Sitting in a Regency Corset « Raw & Dangerous: Just as I am - July 23, 2010

[…] by ninapaules in Living Life, Writing. Tags: corset, Regency, writing trackback If you missed Living in a Regency Corset, posted earlier in the week, click here.  To the scads (and scads) of folks who’ve already […]

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