Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Time travel

Apparently Queen Victoria put on fresh hand-made silk underwear every day of her adult life. Each day her drawers were unworn and fresh out of the packet (brand-spanking new, you could say).
And in 1837, at 18, she had a 20in waist while that had become a 56in waist by the 1890s.  I owe both those factoids to a blog called Kate Tattersall, which also has lots of other interesting things to say about Victorian life.
I came across it today because thought I'd revisit old topics to celebrate the fact that I've just passed the 200,000 hits mark, which I find unbelievable. To mark the milestone I've been having a quick look back to November last year and my very first post here.
And I'm a bit mystified as to why I just jumped straight in with Queen Victoria's drawers (but not into them). Why no gentle introduction? Anyway, Queen Victoria's silk drawers were auctioned and someone paid £10,000 for them.
At the time I didn't give the story much in the way of context, so I'll put that right by sharing some of what the Kate Tattersall blog has to say on drawers. It says that they weren't worn much until the second half of the 19th Century - it was the fashion for crinolines that got girls into undies.
The problem was that if a gust of wind lifted your crinoline you were in trouble unless you had drawers to hide your bare essentials. Drawers were split leggings and about knee length.
Each leg was separate and joined together only at the waistband which left the crotch seam open. Having pants with that opening there seems like a bit of an invitation to me, but then I guess it represents the height of modesty compared with wearing nothing at all.
A last thought, a buyer paid £10K for Victoria's pants at an auction, but Her Maj apparently wore a new pair everyday. Doesn't that means that somebody, somewhere has to be sitting on lots of royal knickers that could all be turned into easy money?


  1. Congrats! And interesting post - I must admit I know precious little (okay, nothing) about Victorian dress. I know something now! :)

    I wonder how much I'd get for my pink She-Ra panties?

  2. That was so interesting. Did women really wear nothing at all under their dresses prior to the 19th century? That sounds a bit messy.


  3. Presumably there were times when they had to wear something for the obvious reason, but it sounds like the rest of the time they just let the air get to the bits. Probably healthier that way really:)

  4. Women in the nineteenth century did not wear panties because the amount of clothing they wore would have made it difficult (if not impossible) to urinate. Rubberised elastic had not been invented and
    they usually peed where they stood, often straddling a gutter. Modern sanitation, even daily baths or showers, were unknown.


    1. I guess that's probably how it waqs. Progress is a wonderful thing.

  5. Replies
    1. Now there's a Freudian neologism for you! ;)

      I would wager you meant 'was', but your fingers wanted to make the word sound saucy.