Thursday, March 5, 2015

Dressing Prudence From the Foundation Up, Custard Protocol Special Extras with Gail Carriger

The first book in my new Custard Protocol series, Prudence, is coming March 17, 2015. In other words... soon!  This book is set in 1895 and I have concocted, for you, a pictorial guide to a possible outfit that a young lady of Rue's rank might wear during this time period.

The images run with what she would need to put on, in order. Ready? Here we go...

On the bottom half:

1 1890  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

2 1890s Stockings The Metropolitan Museum of Art

3 1899 Garters  1899  The Chicago History Museum

4 1895-1905 Oxfords   The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 Note that shoes have to go on early? Well before the corset and also the rest of the dress for bending and hemming reasons.

Combination  1890s  The Metropolitan Museum of Ar

Combinations are a hard one for me, as an author. Because they were totally UBIQUITOUS undergarments at the time of the Custard Protocol books. They were the most common form of underwear. However, the name and the concept is entirely lost to the modern mind set. Most of my readers would have no basis for comparison should I drop the word "combination" into, for example, a shape change or a nookie scene. I must, therefore, use the word in correct context so as to make it clear that is what the character is wearing. Or have it described to another foriegn character. And yet, it's not something that would be described. So I have to have said foreigner describe it and everyone else get embarrassed. Oh! I like that. Forget I said anything, OK?

On the upper half:

Bust Improvers  1890s  Whitaker Auction

Rue wouldn't need these, but I include them because I think its so fun that they exist at all!

5 Camisol  1895-1905  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

1893  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

8 Sleeve Supports  1890s  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

And over the top:

7 1895  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
9 1894 Evening Dress  Charles Fredrick Worth, 1894  The Kyoto Costume Institute

10 1890s  The Goldstein Museum of Design

11 1895-1905  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

12 Muff and Hat  1890s  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Alternatively, here's a look at more sporty options...

Stockings  1890s  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Combinations undergarment, England, 1875 - 1900

Corset 1890s Summer Corset   The Victoria & Albert Museu

Corset Cover  1895-1900  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

And sportswear on the outside:

Gym Suit  1895-1899  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Cycling Ensemble  1895  The Kyoto Costume Institute

Shirtwaist 1894 The Museum at FIT _ OMG that dress!

1890s Under The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Travel Suit  Jacques Doucet, 1895  The Victoria & Albert Museum

You don't have to take the pictures as proof. Here's some research to back it up...

Gwen Raverat at the end of the century describes the modest dress of a respectable female.

"Women were incredibly modest . . .  even with each other. You could see a friend in her petticoat, but nothing below that was considered decent. At school, the sidht of a person in her white frilly drawers caused shrieks of outraged virtue; and I should have thought it impossible to be seen downstairs in my dressing-gown."
 ~ Judith Flanders The Victorian House (pg. 269)

Now you see why werewolves have such a hard time? And they aren't even female. Poor Rue, when she shape shifts, scandal inevitably follows her.

americangothgirl-tumblr Catalog Photographs, Front and Back Views of Woman In Corset, c. 1880s. Albumen Prints

"This is what a young lady wore, with whom I shared a room one night...

  1. Thick, long-legged woolen combinations.
  2. Over them, white cotton combinations, with plenty of buttons and frills.
  3. Very serious, bony, grey stays, with suspenders.
  4. Black woolen stockings.
  5. White cotton drawers, with buttons and frills.
  6. White cotton 'petticoat-bodice', with embroidery, buttons and frills.
  7. Rather short, white flannel, petticoat.
  8. Long alpaca petticoat, with a flounce round the bottom.
  9. Pink flannel blouse.
  10. High, starched, white collar, fastened on with studs.
  11. Navy blue tie.
  12. Blue skirt, touching the ground, and fastened tightly to the blouse with a safety-pin behind.
  13. Leather belt, very tight.
  14. High button boots.
  ~ Judith Flanders The Victorian House (pg. 269)

Undergarments ca. 1900-03  From the FIDM Museum

 1898 Walking Suit, House of Worth, French, Made of silk and lace

Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.


  1. I LOVE the combinations. I have never heard of that garment either, but it's so pretty and while it probably wouldn't work nowadays for the way I dress (hello jeans!), I would definitely wear it for sleeping. I've been watching The Paradise on Netflix recently and loving all the costumes.

  2. An amazing series of costumes here. Thank you so much for sharing.

  3. An amazing series of costumes here. Thank you so much for sharing.

  4. Just looking at that I know for a fact now should I ever find myself thrown back in time I'm going to avoid civilization and take up living deep in the woods where I can dress as I please. I shudder to think of wearing any of that. Especially when trying to go to the bathroom.

    1. That's why combinations and bloomers are split leg. Make going to the loo much easier!

    2. They weren't always split. Most of the ones I've seen in person have not been. One assumes that's what the leg holes are so large. But still... awkward!

  5. Is the combination a one piece like a 1920's 'step-in' or is it two pieces? The first example looked like it might have been two, but the second looked like a one. And I agree with JamiSings, answering to basic needs would have been a struggle.

  6. I'm SO hyped for the book :D And I really love your outfit for her.

  7. It's a one-piece garment, Melissa, that's where the name comes from - they're a "combination" of camisole and drawers.

  8. I love my combinations [which fasten at the gusset, while my drawers are 'divided'], and plan to make more very soon. Some of the info above looks a bit dodgy though- why would anyone wear 2 sets of combinations AND drawers, all at once? Crazy. The pink petticoat should surely be outside the corset and suspenders as well- very odd image! The museum curators should be biffed firmly with a parasol...

    1. There is CONSIDERABLE photographic evidence to suggest this is exactly how they wore them. I know it looks weird, but that's fashion.

  9. As a long-time costumer of Victorian garments, I have to say how grateful I am when an author has done their research. Reading about that era tends to make me rather cross when the author has their heroine doing things, or wearing things, completely at odds with the era and custom. Your blog has inspired me to seek out your books, knowing that I won't cry from frustration reading them. :D

  10. The photograph labeled 1880's shows a much later corset style. That's very definitely an Edwardian S-curve corset. It comes down low on the hips, supposed forces that weird "pigeon breast" posture, and is low in the front with a characteristic v-shape. So I definitely think that one is mislabeled. It wouldn't be earlier than 1905 or so.


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