A writer’s life is full of both real and imagined explorations. Articles, interviews, and essays are the kind of thing I’ve sold in the past. I’ve dabbled in newsletters. But I came to a point where I wanted to conjure the mother of all quests, the novel.
When a person writes, even fiction, knowing details of the environment you’re writing about adds richness and credibility. Along the way, I thought others might be interested in some of the curious facts and (sometimes shocking) practices I’ve uncovered on my research journey. My latest creation, BRAINCHILD, is a Steampunk romance, so very Victorian, so my inquiry was astounding, by Jove!
My word! Panties were truly a pair. I am told, however, that properly fitted, and if a lady constantly kept her legs together, any problems with the design was alleviated. The pantaloons were two long tubes of fabric, often muslin, cambric, cotton lawn, or silk depending on the level of wealth and purpose for the lady who owned them. They usually buttoned or tied at the top, leaving open the middle seams.
During the Victorian era, ladies were intent upon keeping their expensive—and not too washable—garments from being sullied by odorous and staining body fluids. A great deal of care was taken to keep more washable fabrics next to the body, as was the fabric of the chemise and the pantaloons, for a barrier.
The expensive corset did not touch a lady’s skin. And a lady’s nether regions were covered as well. That’s where the pantaloons came in handy.
By 1876 the crotch of pantaloons/knickers became closed. What remained was an opening of about four inches that closed by a few buttons. Yeah, that must have been convenient.
Now remember ladies, in polite society, we women of status do not discuss—or even acknowledge the existence of—anything concerning our pantaloons.
Pictures and more descriptions and history are available at these nicely done websites.
Undergarments History Pants, Drawers, Briefs, Knickers Fashion
Victorian Ladies Underwear
7 Things Historical Women Wore Under Their Skirts