Friday, July 15, 2011

Dress It Up with Guest Blogger: Dominique Eastwick

Welcome author Dominique Eastwick to the Book Boost today.

She's here to tell us all about corsets. Here's what she had to say...

Ah yes, the Corset.

Clothing, every character wears them and in most romances at one time or another they have to take them off. But how many really know how period clothing work. I thought long and hard about this blog and what to talk about. I have a back ground in Costume design and history, to summarize the history of costumes into one page is not going to happen. So I thought maybe we could bring it down to one piece.

The Corset.

Such an integral part of who women were and what they wore. Here was a piece of fabric with whale bones and later metal stays sewn into it to completely alter what a women’s shape looked like. You think today’s man is upset about the wonder bra, thinking they are romancing a woman with a “C” cup only to find out she is barely an “A”. Imagine taking a woman to bed who can’t even take off her corset because she can’t live without it one since her body has been so distorted by it. Now not all periods had corsets that were uncomfortable and inflexible, certainly the regency period had looser stays then the Victorian (which altered the waist to unbelievable sizes), Gibson Girl (which created an unnatural “S” shape to the body) or Elizabethan era (which complexly flattened the front of the body). But all were meant to alter the shape of the woman’s body to the desirable look of the era.

So let’s talk about the Corset. The basics are the same no matter what period of time you are talking about, its only where and how the cinching occurs that changes. I am not saying all Corsets are the same just the purpose. Let’s stick with Regency as it’s the most romanticized. The silhouette of the woman accentuated the bust. The waistline fell just below the bust and slowly headed south as the 1800’s progressed. The corsets main job was to push up the breasts, of course it still cinched the waist but no one saw the waist so the waist was straighter and less hour glassed.

Corsets were expensive. Poor women would not wear one, not only could they not afford one but wearing one would make it impossible to work in the fields. However a woman of moderate status, trying to gain status would definitely aspire to have one. And those with money would have many. The corset was made to the individual’s body. It would have fit like a second skin in most era’s only tighter.

Because they were expensive items you protected them. A chemise or shift would have been worn under the corset ensuring it didn’t get sweat upon. A petticoat would be worn over the corset adding protection to the corset.

Now the big problem when writing about the Regency period, we all think that the corset could be easily removed. But in fact it couldn’t the item would be laced up the back. For some the lacing weren’t merely zig-zaged but might have several places in the corset that the laces would go straight up to the next hole. Then once the corset was completely laced the maid would take those two lacing that went up rather the zig-zag and pull them tight and tie from there. This allowed for a tighter look in certain places.

Thus making the quickie in the library is less likely. I am not saying it didn’t happen just not as frequently as we writers seem to write about. A man no matter how experienced in getting a lady dressed would be hard pressed in many eras to get the corset just right to allow for the dress to fit again. Remember most women spent a good majority of their time dressing for the events of the evening.

But I as a reader and writer will gladly suspend my disbelief for a well written love scene and quick tryst with the right hero and heroine.

And as a closing thought...did you know men once wore corsets too? But found them cumbersome and uncomfortable so stopped wearing them. Smart Men.

A Note from the Book Boost: I didn't know about your history with costumes. I might totally need your help with my Victorian novel! Thanks for joining us today. Please tell us more about your book.


Tony Sherman may be a modern day Adonis and a well-know ladies man, but hiding beneath his carefree, playboy persona is a man who knows how to be discrete. He keeps his desire to protect all those he loves from being seen by anyone, particularly his family. Fate intervenes when he uses his charm to beg a favor from a co-worker, a women who is unaffected by his charisma as she is by his looks.

Haven Pelletier is anything but the kind of woman usually found on Tony's arm or in his bed. She's mousy and rubenesque, and unmoved by his Adonis appearance. But when circumstances bring them together, she sees right through his tarnished armor—to the true man underneath.

As Haven learns more about Tony, she discovers secrets hidden deep in his past and a Man who might just steal her heart if she lets him. When life throws obstacles in their way, can Tony be the Knight in Shining Armor Haven needs both in and out of the bedroom?


Her breath caught as Tony pushed her forward toward the glass window. A full moon lit the snow white landscape giving it an angelic feel. The white mountain shimmered dreamlike as if waiting for the sun to crest over them to awaken the skiers and bring it once more the joyful life. But at the moment nothing moved. No wind, animal, or person disturbed the quiet slumber of the mountain.

"It’s beautiful."

"I know. I come here, to this spot every time I come up here. My favorite time is now, like tonight, under a full moon. When a thousand crystals are sparkling at us. It's almost magical, isn’t it?"

"Magical," she agreed.

"May I ask you something?"

"I guess so."

"Would it be okay if ... That is, may I...can I kiss you?"

Haven took a step back. "Why are you asking?"

"What do you mean, why am I asking?"

"Why ask? Would you have asked any other girl you were with?"

Tony looked at her stunned, here he was trying to be a gentlemen and she wanted to know why. "I don’t know, because maybe I didn’t want to get slapped or worse have you accuse me of sexual harassment when we got back to the office on Tuesday. Or perhaps I was just trying to treat you like a lady. How the hell do I know? I just thought..."

Whatever he thought to say was thrown to the wind. Her lips met his and he couldn’t have formed a complete sentence even if he tried. Snaking his arms around her waist, he pulled her into him, forcing her to rise up on tip toes. She was soft where a woman should be soft. She made him feel strong and masculine. His lips wanted to devour every full inch of her mouth. She tasted like the strawberries from her Daiquiri and smelled just as sweet.

His mouth demanded hers open, not that he was receiving any resistance. She opened for him and met his tongue eagerly welcoming and stroked him in. Her left hand moved over his shoulder, up his neck and now her long fingers intertwined into his locks. He didn’t know, didn’t care who was driving the kiss deeper. He just knew that he wanted it, needed it, like no other kiss in his life. He wanted this moment to last.

This moment of beauty, its purity and its fire.

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Dominique Eastwick said...

Thank you for having me again.

Valerie Mann said...

Fascinating! And we complain about having to wear a bra! I can't imagine all the layers a woman wore, the unnatural state she put her body in, and how difficult it was to eat or breathe. Ugh! said...

Have to agree, smart men.