Split vs Unsplit drawers/bloomers

Undies, everyone has to wear them.
1880lady
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Split vs Unsplit drawers/bloomers

Postby 1880lady » Mon Dec 03, 2007 12:04 pm

Hi everyone,

I was wondering if split bloomers (i.e. seperated legs, also called "crotchless") were more popular than ones that weren't.
I've seen an equal amount of each, and I've been trying to find some period references...
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Postby Heather » Mon Dec 03, 2007 12:15 pm

The split drawer is a necessity when wearing a corset. The vast majority of drawers from the Victorian period are split. I read an article once about traveling from the 1880's, where they advocated wearing closed drawers. Which I can understand while climbing on and off stage coaches and such. But in order to wear a closed drawer, you will need to wear the drawers outside of your corset, rather than under it.

Modern drawer makers usually sell a closed drawer, as the average person today feels uncomfortable with the idea of the open crotch. Or they are worn in public as representative of "soiled doves" (totally wrong if you ask me.)
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Postby Manon Antoinette » Mon Dec 03, 2007 4:22 pm

With all the things you wear, I think the only reason not to wear an open crotch on a coach or carriage is A) when you climb aboard and a wind blows up your skirt? B) you may catch a bad draft if on top of a riding coach. With a chemise tucked in or over and 2 or 3 skirts, and the whole open crotch not even being tight and in the "open" (like crotchless underwear nowadays), there is enough fabric to feel secure. The ones with crotch have to go over the corset, otherwise it is an absolute nightmare (especially in a line or hurry) dragging it from underneath the corset.
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1880lady
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Postby 1880lady » Mon Dec 03, 2007 7:17 pm

Thanks for all your help! So, it's open = under corset, closed = over corset. And I should usually wear split/open to be accurate. I think I've got it!
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Postby Lioness » Tue Dec 04, 2007 7:20 am

Heather wrote:Modern drawer makers usually sell a closed drawer, as the average person today feels uncomfortable with the idea of the open crotch. Or they are worn in public as representative of "soiled doves" (totally wrong if you ask me.)


I agree, Miss Heather. Too many women think that all "fallen angels" only wore "underthings". I think wearing a dress that is easy to remove would be more appropriate. I wonder where the idea started. I don't remember ever seeing photos of women running around a town in their dainties.
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Postby valleyviolet » Tue Dec 04, 2007 9:13 am

I'm guessing a lot of that image is Hollywood induced. Older wild west movies (like spaghetti westerns) seem to be pretty realistic about what women wore, but the newer flashy stuff from the last 20 years or so includes a lot of women in almost nothing hanging out of windows or parading around near nude inside the confines of the whorehouse (I'm looking at you Brotherhood of the Wolf). People's minds tend to draw strange parallels to wondering around the street in an indecent state.
"The difference between clothing and fashion is a lack of peer pressure."
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Postby 1880lady » Tue Dec 04, 2007 9:36 am

I know, it's dreadful. I mean, today's popstars are running around without their knickers on, something I'm sure Victorian prostitues didn't do in public. Of course, knickers weren't invented yet, but any sort of undergarment was concealed. I've seen some illustrations and read books about the 19th century lower classes, and in most cases, women lifted up their skirts to give a glimpse of something potentially naughty, much like there were "decency inspectors" to patrol the prostitues/dancers at nightclubs like the Moulin Rouge in it's heyday. Of course, I'm sure the "inspectors" got a kick at checking to see if ladies' drawers weren't split, but, they're men, so what else can we expect?
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Postby Dana » Fri Dec 14, 2007 10:41 am

I am so late in reading this thread but the subject is so interesting.

Among reenactors this is always a lively topic of discussion because the debate usually falls to historical accuracy versus clarity, and reenactors feel very strongly one way or the other. Hollywood and reenactors have the same goal in that they want to clearly communicate their themes to the audience. Often times prostitutes will be depicted in their underwear so that it is clear to the audience who these characters are.

If you dressed a prostitute role historically, the audience may not be able to tell the proper lady from the improper. This argument has its flaws though because certainly you could tell the difference based on how they play out their roles. And for reenactors, it can also be argued that part of their obligation is to educate the audiences whenever they can.

Hollywood of course wants to sell movie tickets and one good way to do that is to tantalize. And most of us don't find a loose wrapper tantalizing, though that is what the doves often wore because it was a quick garment to get in and out of.

But ladies on the streets in their skivvies? Naw. Even the prostitutes of the time knew what was proper and improper. They needed to keep a low profile so as to stay in town and keep employed. Showing up in public in their underwear would be one sure way to get driven away or arrested. (Citing a TV show isn't very scholarly but think of Trixie in Deadwood. When she'd leave the Gem, she'd put on her skirts and bodice, though whether they were historically correct I'm not sure. But the point is, it was rare that she'd go out without buttoning up even in such a depraved town as that.)

In public, if prostitutes had the wherewithal to dress a bit flashy, they probably would. Their make-up was probably applied with a more heavy hand. (Thus the "painted lady") They probably dyed their hair. So they could sometimes be told apart from the proper ladies in town but some proper ladies liked to dress flamboyantly too so it wasn't all that easy to label who was who, just based on looks.

A very fun subject to "unpack". And regarding drawers, open drawers are so much more convenient, even if you do wear them over the corset.
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Postby Lioness » Fri Dec 14, 2007 12:33 pm

Isn't this a WONDERFUL place to be. We learn so much from each other! THANKS, DANA! That was so interesting! :D
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Postby Manon Antoinette » Fri Dec 14, 2007 2:54 pm

I read a whole piece on the applying of make-up, dying of hair. It was considered something typical for a woman of vice to do. I read of women throwing stones at a woman for having a bit of her calf showing!!
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Postby Dana » Fri Dec 14, 2007 3:52 pm

It *is* fun to talk about isn't it? Especially in light of where we are right now, culturally speaking. Look at all the celebrities who have posed for magazine covers while pregnant. And back in the 19th century it was something to try to keep from public view.

Nowadays when we *don't* wear make-up we are considered not so put-together. Or even "frumpy".

In the larger cities of the 1880's proper women could get away with wearing make-up and bought it commercially made in the department stores according to the book by Ellen Plante. I can't remember the exact title. Something like "Women at Home in Victorian America".

Isn't that funny too about ankles showing? And then there were women in evening dresses bearing so much chest that there's a quote in the Gernsheim book of a man saying he hadn't seen so much cleavage since he was weaned!

I love social history! :D

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Postby Lauren » Fri Dec 14, 2007 6:07 pm

Wow! What a fascinating thread this is!
I noticed that with any era in time, the more familiar you get with it the easier it is to see what the women were like based on clothing. They don't look any longer like all "ladies".

Like in paintings, how the older generation wore older styles while the younger were in fashion. Or how in paintings by people like Manet you can definitely tell the looser women from the ladies.

I ditto the idea it came from hollywood. With people unaccustomed to the styles of dress they'd need something pretty drastic to say "ok, and this one's a prostitute". :lol:

Kinda makes me wonder what people will think in a few hundred years when they look at our photographs... :roll: :lol:
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Postby valleyviolet » Sat Dec 15, 2007 1:21 pm

Dana wrote:Isn't that funny too about ankles showing? And then there were women in evening dresses bearing so much chest that there's a quote in the Gernsheim book of a man saying he hadn't seen so much cleavage since he was weaned!


:lol: That's completely awesome!

I have to say, as a modern woman who doesn't wear makeup, there are quite a few ladies in geek subculture (computers, gaming, and other techie stuff) who don't. I think we can get away with it because being a geek girl completely negates any frumpiness factor when you're around geek boys. :P
"The difference between clothing and fashion is a lack of peer pressure."
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Postby Manon Antoinette » Sat Dec 15, 2007 1:33 pm

I also have the Gernsheim book... I'm reading this little fun book at the moment; The Essential Handbook of Victorian Entertaining by Autumn Stephens. It's good to know that when having tea you best leave your hat and gloves on! Quite enjoyable book :)
Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.
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Postby Lioness » Sat Dec 15, 2007 1:35 pm

Why is this in the "Swap Meet" section? I am confused. :shock:
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Postby Manon Antoinette » Sat Dec 15, 2007 2:39 pm

:o You are so right Lioness! I'm only realizing that now (is guilty of just clicking "new messages since last visit")
Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.
Oscar Wilde
A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow.
Charlotte Brontë
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Postby Heather » Sat Dec 15, 2007 3:18 pm

I went ahead and moved this topic to a better location. I hope everyone can still find it.
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Postby Miranda Miller » Sat Jan 05, 2008 3:25 pm

I feel late to a party!
I hope everyone can find the post
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Postby Lioness » Sun Jan 06, 2008 12:52 am

Doesn't really matter where it is, it sure helps to get all this information. I just got confused. :shock:
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