The woman who desires to appear well dressed, should give attention to the selection of underwear. A recent bride paid $500 for her wedding veil, which came from Worth’s, and her trousseau contained many imported gowns, but her lingerie was little better than that worn by a woman in a tenement house, the garments being made severely plain, many of them of unbleached muslin, and unadorned with trimming of any kind.
It is useless to wear a stylish tailor-made gown over a last year’s out-of-date pair of corsets. Then, too, different styles of lingerie should be worn with décolleté gowns, with promenade gowns, &c.
When attired for athletic pastimes, for example, a young lady should by all means discard the corset, and wear a corset waist instead. For bicycling she should wear an entirely distinct set of undergarments, which may at the same time be dainty and pretty. The silk undervest should be a size larger than the one worn upon other occasions, to permit of freer action of the arms. The approved bicycle corset should be worn by all means. It costs but $1, is very narrow, almost like a belt, yet very close fitting. It is not heavily boned, and is cut very short on the hips, elastic being inserted so as to permit of freedom of motion. Some bicyclists prefer the silk lacing, others the elastic.
A combination of short petticoat, and drawers, fastened together at the waist, is in vogue for bicycling. The skirt falls several inches below the drawers, and may be finished with lace. The two garments have one drawstring, thus doing away with the discomfort of a band at the waist.
The majority of lady cyclists consider the above-mentioned lingerie sufficient for warm weather. Many wear an additional skirt, slightly longer than the first. Others prefer the new combination called the chemise skirt, which may be of silk or linen, the first being very pretty and effective, the latter cooler. The chemise portion of the garment is short-waisted and trimmed elaborately with lace, little flounces passing over the shoulders. It may be worn over the corset, serving as a corset cover, and the lower part forms an under petticoat.
Bicycle stockings of silk are popular, many, however, preferring those of fine lisle thread for ordinary wear.
There are many novelties in bicycle stockings. They should harmonize with the suit as its groundwork, and may be clocked or striped with white. If tan shoes are worn, they should match the hose. No garters should be used by bicyclists.
The Cincinnati [OH] Enquirer 4 June 1896: p. 9
Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The question of cycling costume was a matter of highly public debate, arousing feverish passions on all sides. One of the most vital issues was the “corset or no corset” controversy. This advocate was adamantly anti-corset:
The fundamental principal of comfort for a wheelwoman lies in the underwear. Corsets should never be worn under any circumstances. Neither is it desirable to ride without any support for the body, especially if the rider is inclined to stoutness. An equipoise waist from which the bones have been removed is the best substitute for the corset, as then the muscles are allowed to have full play and are not constricted in any way. Union underwear is now so universally worn that it would seem almost unnecessary to recommend it, but upon the wheel it becomes almost a necessity, doing away with much unpleasant thickness around the hips.
A pair of full Turkish trousers, made of black India silk, will be found an admirable substitute for the petticoat.
If preferred, equestrian tights are also extremely comfortable. Leggings are stiff and uncomfortable adjuncts, and are not necessary. They interfere with the “ankle motion,” which should be cultivated by every woman who wishes to ride gracefully. Bay City [MI] Times 3 June 1894: p. 9
While this author offers a sensible opposing viewpoint: (Mrs Daffodil would challenge the notion that “golf hose” are “extremely English.”)
The discreet wheelwoman knows that gauze wool underwear is the safest choice, as there is always danger in cooling off too suddenly, says Godey’s Magazine. The union suit or the two-piece wool suit is best, as it causes the costume to fit snugly and neatly to the figure, and does away with all unnecessary weight.
Corsets for the wheel should give freedom to the hips; the short empire corset is a good choice, as while it supports the bust it is sufficiently short to be comfortable. Another excellent corset has several elastic gores let in on the hips, which give when mounting, and yet hold the figure firmly. Another corset, designed for summer wear is of coarse substantial net. The corset should never be tightly laced, as it renders the breathing difficult and causes fatigue.
Stockings are of many kinds, but the woman who wants to be extremely English affects golf hose; the clumsiness which has already been so objectionable has been eliminated by making the feet of four-ply wool, which is almost as thin as lisle thread. Checked wool hosiery is also used, and cotton and lisle. Philadelphia [PA] Inquirer 23 April 1897: p. 11
Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes
You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.