Linen, leather, reed, baleen
ca. 1750-1800
During the 18th century, women of nearly all social classes wore foundation garments such as stays (a corset stiffened with wood or whalebone) or jumps (an unboned bodice). Stays could be ordered from Europe, purchased from local milliners or at stores, or produced at home. The rigid stay in the Foundation's collection was most likely worn by a gentry woman who sought to demonstrate her sense of style and adherence to the latest tastes. Made of linen, whalebone and reed, the stay is quite unique in that additional fabric was added to increase the length of the item, most likely for a growing owner. These significant homemade modifications demonstrate the the owner's regard for the piece and the efforts taken to reuse items rather than replace them.