19th Century Ladies Fashions included gigantic sleeves known by many names: Leg of Mutton, Marquise, Balloon, etc. Highly fashionable, women wore them to work at home, to “walk out”, to sit for photographs, and on their wedding days. Highly fashionable for a period of time in the 1890s (through the turn of the century), they’ve returned at least twice: mid 1980s and in 2016. A favorite? You decide.
Judge John H. Arbuckle promised divorces to unsuspecting men duped by mail-order brides from the East who padded their limbs, hips, bosoms or employed false hair or used cosmetic paints. Such elements of beauty were common in the Victorian American Era, at least among the wealthy. It must have been common enough among disillusioned bridegrooms for the Judge to rule (April 3, 1873) that “marriages into which a man is seduced by the use of (his list of offenses like makeup and padded breasts) without the man’s knowledge, shall stand null and void if he so desires”. Victorian ladies were guilty of nothing today’s generation hasn’t done. But just what padding devices and cosmetics were readily available in the early 1870’s?
Corsets are synonymous with the Victorian Era and well-dressed ladies. Corsets were worn by women… and men, adolescent girls, and even children. Maternity corsets existed as did nursing corsets. Unbelievable!