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Silk Bodice from the 1770s

Silk bodice from the 1770s

Silk Bodice from the 1770s

This silk bodice from the 1770s is from France and reflects the fashion of the period and the French style. A bodice covered the body from the neckline to the waist and was a fashionable upper garment that was common in Europe during the 16th to the 18th century.

The term, Bodice, derives from a pair of bodies because the garment was initially made in two pieces that fastened together, often by lacing. The bodice was different from the corset of the time because it was intended to be worn over the other garments.

In historical usage, a bodice indicates the upper part of a dress that was constructed in two parts but of matching fabric with the intention of wearing the two pieces as a unit connected by hooks and eyes. This fashionable garments had the advantages of allowing a voluminous skirt to be paired with a close-fitting bodice. To achieve an elegant shape and support the bust, the bodice was often stiffened with reeds or whalebone.

A one-piece bodice became more frequent after 1900, due to the trend for looser, simpler constructed clothing with narrower skirts. Bodices survive into modern times in the traditional or folk dress. They are also commonly seen today as the upper part of a stylish dress and designed to distinguish it from the skirt and sleeves.

Bodice

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Reflections

  • European folk dress typically has a bodice. How do they vary from this French silk bodice?
  • How does a Scottish highland Bodice differ from an Austrian folk dress bodice?
  • How did different cultures make use of the bodice?

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“Fashion is about dressing according to what’s fashionable.
Style is more about being yourself.”

– Oscar de la Renta

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Photo Credit: 1) Metropolitan Museum of Art [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

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