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The necessary underpinnings to create the 1830s silhouette were the corset, the petticoat, and sleeve supports. This cotton petticoat is corded which serves to stiffen it into a rounded shape that would push the skirts of the dress outward into a bell form. Petticoats in this period were also made of horsehair fabric and called crinolines (from the French word crin, meaning horsehair). To create the slightly raised waist, the heavy white cotton corset (1987.238) is reinforced with cording and boning and has a slot for a busk at center front, as well as a large interior pocket for a paperboard to flatten the abdomen. Gussets at the bust and hips of the corset serve to allow flesh to expand above and below. The neckline of the corset is low and open and is joined by off-the-shoulder straps, which serve to open the chest area further. The separate sleeve supports (C.I.66.38.5a, b), made of muslin and given shape with baleen, complete the wide-topped silhouette. Affixed to the body with drawstrings at the top and bottom, they created a balloon of fabric over the arm, which slipped slowly downward over the course of the 1830s and 1840s. Sleeve supports could also be made of down-filled pillows.

Petticoat, cotton, American

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