Queen Victoria's Foundations

Posted by Bella Coeur on

A friend passed along a link to this exhibit of a recently acquired set of Queen Victoria’s underpinnings and it got me to thinking ….  (look out, she’s gonna rant!  LOL)


Everyone is familiar with photos and portraits of Queen Victoria which are mostly from her more mature years.  She wasn’t no skinny mini!  As the article above points out, even beginning with a 20-inch waist in her youth, the birth of 9 kids will take its toll on a body.  I’d venture to guess that a royal lifestyle that includes an abundance of food probably would tend to put a few extra pounds on a girl.  All she’d be required to do is ring a bell and a servant could be sent with any sort of treat a queen could desire!  If I had that luxury, I’m certain I would be MUCH larger than Victoria’s 56-inch waist indicates!

 Which brings me to The Rant.

The first 4 years after opening my brick and mortar shop, I delighted in displaying beautiful Victorian gowns on dress forms.  Almost everyone looked at the dresses without making the comment, “Look how tiny the waist is!”  Or my favorite- spoken directly to me, “Have you seen the size of the waist on that dress?”  (Umm… think about that for just a minute.) 

 Brick and mortar shop display of antique dresses

Repeated attempts to discuss the differences of lifestyle, availability, quantity, and diversity of food as well as overall better nutrition, etc., PLUS corseting have repeatedly been met with scorn and disbelief – really!  Eventually, I gave up attempts to be helpful and informative resorted to simply smiling and nodding.  When prodded for a comment, I found it sufficient to say, “They never met a Quarter Pounder with Cheese”. 

All the while, these dresses were set up a about 5 ft. from a vintage mannequin displaying a seasonal vintage dress with all the accessories.  This particular mannequin has a 22 ½” waistline and most things fit well or will with minor pinning.  Foolishly pointing out that the mannequin’s dress is smaller than many of my Victorian gowns and that it wasn’t very long ago that women, in general, weren’t all that much larger only 50 years ago … let’s just say the response wasn’t been stellar.  The mannequin now lives to serve as a photo model only.

 T.C. showing off her vintage summer outfit

There’s a lot to be said for portion control.  My own mother, back in the ‘60s would eat a single White Castle burger with a small Coke for dinner and be satisfied.  I’d kill to be able to wear her clothes today. 

The question is:  am I willing to eat like that?  OBVIOUSLY not.  T.C., the mannequin, HAS made her choice.  She maintains her 22 ½” waist by fastidiously refusing to eat.

Originally posted 9/0/09

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