Monday, November 2, 2009

An Unusual Pair of Stays

For sale on ebay this pair of brown linen stays is unusual in many respects. The front opening stays do not have staggered holes for lacing, suggesting this pair laced over a stomacher in criss cross fashion, and not using a spiral lacing technique. The lining of the stays is missing and there are no tabs to splay out over the hips, suggesting a later date when stays followed the fashion of the rising waistline. Also unusual is the fact that these stays are of only three pieces and the boning of the stays makes no accommodation for the curves of the body and are straight up and down, suggesting use by a child or a slight young woman.

The full view of these stays shows the unusually high back and the odd shaping at the bottom of the center back. The dimensions of the stays are given by the seller as Front 13 1/2 inches long, Sides 11 inches long, Back 14 3/8 inches and a total of 30 inches around the top. Also odd are the abruptly angled cutouts for the armscye.

The stays are made of a very typical nutty golden brown linen, and are also bound with the typical white leather. They appear to follow many of the stay making conventions and yet appear to be somewhat primitive in design and execution. Many of the unusual features of these stays could be attributed to alterations, such as the lack of tabs, or the stays are transitional in nature between the more shaped 3rd Qtr 18th century stays and the less structured last decade of the 18th century. It would be interesting to examine these stays more closely for further information.