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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Kohler and THAT SACQUE

This is THE DRESS that probably sucked me into the vortex of the 18th century.  I liked historical costumes - no question but when I saw this image in "The History of Costume" by Carl Kohler, that was it!
I mean, have you ever, in all your days, seen anything quite so elegant???
It is many years ago and I have wanted one ever since.  I wish the image was in colour because I love the pattern and would love to see it in more detail. Does anyone know if it is still in the same collection?
Re-enacting is not big here so even contemplating having a dress like this has remained a dream, but it's inching closer.  I have to put the dream out there for it to happen. After all I found a patchbox, I found mother of pearl gaming chips, I found a wig, and thanks to American Duchess soon I will have shoes!
Yes I want a sacque dress, but I wonder about the fit and comfort level because it has to be said, I was blessed and blessed and blessed in the chest department and stays don't look very comfortable to me. Squashing those parts of me flat doesn't appeal at all.   And while the idea of historical accuracy is nice, frankly comfort is going to win hands down in a face off.
So is there anyone out there in a similar situation (and of a similar Queenly stature) who can give me the benefit of their experience?


  1. Beautiful gown! I can see why it sucked you into 18th c. costuming. What museum is it from? You might check to see if the museum has an online collection, and look it up by number.

    Stays - you might try stays of the late 1770s to 80s. These have a bowed front, with the boning around the bust being horizontal and curved, to support "the girls" in a more "natural" way. You might also try front and back lacing, to give you the most adjustability through the waist and bust. It's much more comfortable, in my opinion, that squishing them in and flat and up, and looks better too.

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  3. I am most fortunate to have a hand made sacque back gown, and it is everything I ever dreamed or hoped for! (You probably have see it on my blog and website). I disagree with a few of the points on stays mentioned in the above comment, but if you are alone, with no one to make sure you are "straight laced", I agree that stays that lace front and back are best. TRUE custom 18thc. stays are extremely pricey, and if you are not a professional reenactor, and would like a set for yourself that will 'do the job' but not cost a 'pretty penny' then I recommend you contact Jas. Townsend, and order a set of their canvas stays.($110.) A friend of ours has them, and we have laced them for her. She bought a gown from me, the stays looked very good, and were great for the money. We have recommended them to another friend who dresses in 18thc. occasionally. Here is the link for them, if it would help:

    I can tell you exactly how to lace front and back lacing stays, if you need any tips. (First, get a bodkin)--- As for 18thc. shoes, I have a fantastic source for those as well. As a reenactor, I was so tired of being in miserably, excrutiatingly uncomfortable shoes for hours on end! Joanie's are made in the US, are padded and made for dancers, and are 'customizable' and affordable. HUZZAH on your acquisition of an antique patch box---lovely! I collect my things carefully and one at a time too...

  4. Thanks Lauren, I will have a look at the stays you mention. Any sites you recommend for them?
    I looked for that dress online years ago but need to look again - I'll have to get the book back out of the library. I've always been a voracious reader and when the house looked like being taken over by books, I donated a lot to the library and swore to use the library more and buy less. I still buy the 'must have' ones but try to control myself.

  5. Thanks for those URLs Mary, I love looking at new sites. And funnily enough I have a bodkin. This is a sewing household! I just wish my mother's and grandmothers' talents(one a seamstress and one a tailoress) in that direction were a little more in evidence in my creations. I need more time!

  6. It's Mary again---I am the one who gave you the link for the stays, not 'Lauren'. I am the one also, who just sent you the wig! Love looking at your blog too~

  7. Yes I know you sent me those stay URLs thanks Mary. Lauren provided me with some other information on stays in 1770s-80s. Didn't mean my posts to be confusing. Still coming to grips with how people get my posts. Do you get separate emails for each post?