1850–1860 ca. Cotton Petticoat, American. Horizontal and diagonal tucking done by machine was time-consuming but shows the importance of having beautiful underclothes in these Victorian years.
Credit Line:Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Mrs. Charles Iseley, 1964. Accession Number:2009.300.3256
During the nineteenth century, women had an extensive array of underpinnings, which could include a chemise, drawers, corset, corset cover, camisole, skirt supports and petticoats. Although to the modest nineteenth-century woman, it would be scandalous for any of these items to be seen, some underclothes were made of sumptuous silks and beautifully decorated with embroidery, ribbons and lace. The meticulous horizontal and diagonal tucking on this petticoat, although done by machine, would have been time-consuming, and exemplifies the desire and importance during this time of having beautiful underclothes. The petticoat was the ideal palette for embroidered, tucked and pleated decorations accented with delicate lace and silky ribbons.