AND NOW, THE QUESTION YOU'VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR...

WHAT ARE DRAWERS?

"Yes, I have heard that drawers are being worn now. It is unnatural for women to be got up like jockeys. I can not approve." - Lady Croom (Act II Scene 6)

"First, she slipped into a chemise and pantaloons. The latter, with legs that ended at the ankle in a finely embroidered flounce, were among the most recent additions to her wardrobe. 'As for the unmentionable,' was written in 1855, 'bear in mind, my lovely reader that it is absolutely modern, even contemporary: it is an English fashion unknown to our grandmothers." (Perrot p.146)

Appearing at the beginning of the century, they did not come into popularity until the late 1800's. The long narrow skirts of earlier years provided cover and pantaloons were not necessary. Pantaloons had been more fashionable during the sixteenth century when they were worn by noble ladies for reasons more of coquetry than modesty. Occasionally pantaloons would make an appearance in such works as Franogard's The Swing . Although among the bourgeoisie there was a strong concept of modesty, and logically pantaloons would promote that concept, it actually led to a rejection of the undergarment. Generally worn by young girls, older women identified pantaloons with the dancers and actresses that had long worn them. Additionally, women felt that the wearing of pantaloons allowed postures that were much too free and encouraged too free of movements. Edwouard Texier wrote: "As early as 1822 several elegantes of the Chausee-d'Antin tried to introduce the Turkish fashion of the long mousseline drawers worn by children; but an extraordinary thing happened: only courtesans took up this decent fashion; nothing more was needed to discredit it." Tableau de Paris

Source: Perrot, Phillippe. Fashioning the Bourgeoisie: A History of Clothing in the Nineteenth Century. Trans. Richard Bienvenu. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1994.

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