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Brocade Stay - Front View

Silk Brocade Stays

Stays was the 18th Century name for corsets and shaped the body in a rigid cone shape. They were not thought of as just underwear but as an under bodice and could be a symbol of the owners status. Brocade stays are suitable for use by a very rich lady and were acceptable to be seen in public under certain conditions. A lady might be seen in her stays when she entertained visitors, of both sexes, at her Levee - the morning ceremony of dressing.
A pair of replica stays suitable for use at a Levee are shown here. A Levee was a chance to impress people, catch up on gossip and affirm social, political or personal alliances. The act of dressing in public showed the wearer's taste and status but more importantly the husband's or family's wealth.

Brocade Stay - Back View Many of the surviving stays in museum collections are back fastening and this was the normal position for the lacing although lacing at the centre front, front and back, over a separate stomacher or even at the sides are found.
Back lacing was regarded as a sort of status symbol since it implied that you had someone to dress you.
These stays are fully boned and an explanation of this term may be found on the Taffeta Stays page.

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