they were wearing corsets. This is the only way to get that 'barrel' shape
to the torso that you see. Without the corset they would have had far more
curvy bits, like the curve under the bust for instance.
As this is not seen a corset must have been used to sculpt the torso.
bodices would have been stiffened also, if not the lacing would collapse.
They would have probably used reeds, but these days we have metal boning.
shoulder straps should be positioned rather wide to accommodate the wider
neckline of the dress. Maybe even a
strapless corset could have been worn like the one seen below.
Unfortunately Corsets do seem to have a use by time, not date. Our bodies are just not accustomed to the wearing of them, 6 hours is far too much normally.
All extant corsets that I have seen thus far are front lacing in a spiral pattern. Reeds and whale bone are the agents of choice used for stiffening, with a wooden busk being placed centrally at the front of the corset for rigidity.
|Early 1600s or provincial 1700s Rocamora Collection Barcelona. Strapless corset with eyelets offset to allow for spiral lacing.||Reverse side of corset with a section cutaway to show stiffening agents of reeds.|
|A front opening metal corset from 1550 Italy. Holes allow the skin to breath. Being metal there is no doubt what shape was desired. This is not however an isolated occurrence of metal corsetry, there is a steel corset from English.||This is the Effigy Corset of Queen Elizabeth I|
The corsetry studies by Drea Leed are really good. http://costume.dm.net/effigy.htm I have some problems with the effigy corset as it is seen in the reconstruction. Firstly that it has a curve at the front. Venetian women do not show this lovely curve they are flat, and with the long front opening of the dress it would be evident if they did have this curve. This can be simply over come by the inclusion of a rigid busk at the front. Also the neckline on the effigy corset is wrong for Venetian dress. The back of the neckline should be very wide and open for the Venetian dress standards. The effigy corset comes up rather high and narrow at the back. I have no doubt this is also easy enough to over come.
Whilst I haven't used this http://costume.dm.net/custompat/index.html I am led to believe that it is very helpful.
I used the sacrificial T-shirt and masking tape method for my corset. It might not be the most time appropriate method but it works really well.
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