>I’ve known Mary Wine for a couple of years now, and let me tell you, this woman CAN SEW (see the picture below)! She makes the most exquisite costumes. The detail is unbelievable, and seeing Mary all dressed up, you’re left waiting with bated breath for your favorite romance hero to come striding through the door! I think you’re going to enjoy her post immensely. Please welcome Mary for today’s Pleasure Me With Romance guest post.
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It’s all about the Corset!
Those much talked about undergarments that have become a novelty today but haven’t lost any of their appeal. I love corsets, have several of them in my closet but not the sort you’d be able to purchase in a lingerie shop. Mine are historical ones, researched and constructed carefully to the instructions given by some long ago tailor. Now before you think I’m insane, let me tell you, corsets are getting an unfair reputation these days. Women wore them everyday for most of the last four hundred years. If they had been instruments of torment, I doubt many of them would have endured because these women had as busy lives as we do today. But I’m a bit of a hands on girl, so I’ve made many different eras and worn them to see for myself what it’s like.
Well…it’s an…up lifting experience…one which can make a girl feel very…supported. Not to mention…Secure. But not breathless, I’ve noticed a few gentlemen experiencing that feeling while I’m in the corset and I admit to liking it quite a bit!
The real key is proper fit. Just like a pair of jeans, every woman knows what size and style she is most comfortable in. The same goes for corsets. If it doesn’t fit you, it will pinch. Another overlooked fact of wearing corsets is making sure you have a chemise on. The chemise is made of a very lightweight fabric and it often went beneath the corset. The third essential ingredient is posture. Slouching and corsets do not mix.
As I was getting ready to write my newest trilogy for Brava, which begins with ‘Improper Seduction’, I did a great deal of research into the clothing of the court of Henry the eight. A woman was judged by the way she looked….some things haven’t changed so very much…lol. As Henry began changing the Church and so many other things, clothing went through drastic modifications. His first wife was more somber, his second outrageous and the next demure. Not that I can’t blame Jane Seymour, if the wife before me was executed for being to promiscuous, I believe I’d adopt a less flashy mode of dressing too. Women attending court had to keep up with the changes. Outfitting a daughter for court was very expensive and doing it well was key to gaining the attention of higher ranking nobles who might help your family climb in rank.
Improper Seduction takes place at the very end of Henry Tudor’s life. He was wed to Catherine Parr who barely escaped execution herself. The court was filled with vultures waiting for the king to die and whoever was wed to him when he passed would have family members included in the future running of the kingdom. Catherine suffered whispered accusations and investigation which might have led her to the Tower but she escaped. It was a time when marriage was used to form alliances among the nobles. Wise women followed the queen’s example of dressing demurely but they also kept their wits sharp.
A Rearranged Marriage…Lord Curan Ramsden is home from war, and eager to claim his betrothed. And he arrives just in time—his bride’s father has summoned her to London, to wed another man. But Bridget’s father promised her to Curan, and Curan means to have her. Especially now that he sees the luscious young woman she has blossomed into. He’ll just have to convince Bridget, somehow, that her heart is more important than her duty.
Bridget Newbury has always done her duty—to her parents, to the church, to the man they selected as her betrothed. She knows what could happen if she disobeys her father. The king has put nobler women to death for lesser trespasses. But she was promised to Curan first, and his kisses are very tempting…
Through it all, corsets changed very little. Tudor era dresses often had sleeves which barely came over the shoulders. Many women pinned their bodices to their corsets or had a few well placed stitches. This left…the hills and valley…on display. For colder moments and in church and to allow for demure trends, a garment known as the partlet came into use. This often was made of black velvet, black was a very expensive color and many couldn’t afford an entire dress out of it. The partlet fit over the shoulders and tied beneath the arms. It was closed in the front, many women wore broaches over the closure. and they often had tall collars. Mary the first was painted in these very often but I adore this picture of her when she was a girl and no doubt flirting with the men surrounding her father.
Not all women wore corsets in the early years of Henry the Eight. His time marked a transition between eras in clothing as well as politics. While writing Improper Seduction, I wanted to illustrate some of the time periods extremes. I think we all tend to think that the people in these eras were all very straight laced but they were young and impulsive just like we are today. Couples still fell in love with the person their parents disapproved of. Young women wondered if they were pretty and suffered bad hair days too. But most importantly of all, they felt that rush of excitement when falling in love…it’s timeless and I think the corset is too. That’s what I wanted to capture in Improper Seduction.
Cheers! Mary Wine
In The Warrior’s Bed and one other selection of Mary’s choice
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|Visit Mary |
When she’s not abusing a laptop, she spends time with her sewing machines…all of them! Making historical garments is her second passion. From corsets and knickers to court dresses of Elizabeth I, the most expensive clothes she owns are hundreds of years out of date. She’s also an active student of martial arts, having earned the rank of second degree black belt.