Victorian & Edwardian Lingerie

Chemises, petticoats, drawers, camisoles, corset covers,
bras and brassieres, slips, nightgowns, robes, etc.

Victorian and Edwardian women wore a lot of lingerie, and sometimes it's confusing what goes where and what it's called. To help make sense of all this, visit our Dressing the Victorian Lady page.

Vintage Drawers and Tap Pants

Drawers & Tap Pants

A Victorian woman started her marathon dressing session with a pair of drawers. Drawers are most often split (crotchless) and about knee length. Some drawers aren't split, and it makes you wonder how they worked, since they were under alll the other layers. Many times you'll see drawers refered to as bloomers, pantalets, or even pantaloons, which are really men's pants. Beginning around the 1920s, drawers morphed into tap pants, which had much shorter legs and a closed crotch.

Vintage Chemises and Slips

Chemises & Slips

Over her drawers, she would slip on a chemise which is a long sleeveless gown. The chemise and protected the skin from the corset, and vice versa.

In the 1920s and 30s, cotton chemises gave way to silk and rayon slips. These were most often cut on the bias, giving them that unmistakable slinky look.

Vintage Corsets


The next layer would be the corset. This is the garment that really defines most Victorian and Edwardian clothing as it was necessary to shape the woman's figure to the current trendy profile.

Girdles, & Garterbelts

During the 1920s, corsets transformed into girdles. Garter belts were worn when you didn't need to cinch, but you still needed some way to keep your silk stockings from falling down.

Corset Covers and Camisoles

Corset Covers & Camisoles

Over the corset would be worn a corset cover which protected the outer garments from the busk of the corset as well as hid the corset under sheerer garments. Later the corset cover became known as a camisole. We tend to call the white cotton garments corset covers, while the later little strappy silk garments we call camisoles.

Hoop Cages and Bustles

Depending on the period, different types of hoops cages and bustles would then be added to give the outfit the shape that was currently in fashion. This is one part of the collection that needs filling out.

Vintage Petticoats


Next one or more petticoats were added to provide even more fullness under the skirt. Finally, after donning at least 5 layers of underwear, the Victorian woman was ready to put on her skirt and bodice.

Combos and Teddies

Combos and Teddies

During the Edwardian period as clothes got sleeker it was necessary to reduce the bulk of the underclothes. So the drawers and the chemise were combined into one garment, the combination, or combo. This further developed into the teddy.

Brassieres and Bras

Brassieres and Bras

Also during and after the Edwardian period corsets became less structured and offered less support for the breasts. Brassieres were introduced, and these later became known simply as bras.

Nightgowns and Robes

Nightgowns and Robes

Through out all of these periods, there were nightgowns and robes for sleeping and lounging.

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