Dear Biddy

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I am sorry our meeting at the Darnleys was so rushed, we have so much to catch up on. Thank you so much for the compliment on my dress, but as I said, this new fashion has been such a trial, and I could see you wanted to know more as we were rushed to move on.

To be frank, I had hoped that the current princess line sheath dress fashion was to be short lived and that, as an older mature woman, I could show it enough favour by reducing my bustles to nought and leaving it at that. But as you know, her Royal Highness has become such a devotee and as we enter its second season, it is now set and when choosing dresses for the London season, my dressmaker put me under some pressure and Biddy, as you well know, I have always endeavoured to stay fashionable even before my marriage to Andrew and even more as to support him as his career has progressed, I felt that I had to take it up, so that no gossip was heard in the salons regarding my dowdy ensembles.

But I say now that I advise you to refrain from following this rigid fashion, as it is totally unforgiving to ladies of our age and figure. You will remember that when we were young in the 50’s, we had similar pear shaped figures and the lacing that it took to get us both to 18″ for our debut and the scaffold of pins, tucks and padding to give some sort of décolletage, but our hips did not matter in those days, as you could have hips the size of that hippopotamus we saw at Regents Park and nobody would know when hidden under a crinoline, and this continued under the fashions of the crinoline, crinolinette and the bustle.

You must agree that past fashions have served us very well, even as our figures bahis siteleri thickened after our children; as long as we had strong maids to haul in our waists, we could follow fashion, and we have been proud of our waists, as have our husbands, and motherhood and extra flesh pushed up by lacing has even given us both an estimable embonpoint.

But the princess line does not leave any deficiencies in a mature figure a place to hide; the long panels from neck to knee require absolute smoothness above and below and every little blemish shows. Well, Biddy, her Royal Highness may be slim enough to wear this fashion with ease, without any lumps or bumps, but I seem to have a myriad to deal with. The situation was not helped by the fashion requiring a longer waist – my staymaker suggested that I let my waist out a little when I struggled at the extra pressure, but I am as you are, proud of my hard-gained waist and George complements me on it nearly every day, so I laced night and day for two weeks, until I could just about manage 20″ for the initial fittings. Well, the longer waist had made the situation worse, what ever the corsetieres tell you, corsets do not ‘waste’ away flesh, they just rearrange it and that rearranged flesh has to go somewhere and even though the new corsets were an inch longer at top and bottom, the amount flesh rolled out top and bottom was a great surprise, I assure you. The dressmakers’ fitters tried their best with some judicious padding, but a smooth line it was not, with rounded tyres above and below. With misgivings, I returned to my staymaker and asked her to lengthen corset above and below, to no avail: even with the corset over my hips canlı bahis siteleri and nearly up to my bosom the flesh would not disappear. I was determined not be beaten, but the end result you will not believe.

To achieve a satisfactory affect, I think I have gone far beyond what should be required to be a’la mode. The staymaker chased the flesh up and down to get a smooth line and we have ended up with not just a corseted waist, but nearly a corseted body. My final dress corset, extends from mid way to my knees up to under my bosom and higher behind, yes truly it is a sight to see; it is more akin to the cuirass armour of a medieval knight than to the modern cuirasse corset as advertised in the ladie’s magazines. Oh, it has little boning below the hips and up to my bosom or I would not be able to move at all, but it is still a formidable beast, weighing fully ten pounds and would not look out of place as a restraint garment in the madhouse.

But Biddy, that is not the end to its rigours: the lacing is an event in it self. To smooth out my excess flesh, my maids have arrived at a method that requires three laces. We start with a lace that extends from my hips to my ribs and I am laced down to a comfortable 22″. Then one maid massages the flesh on my thighs upwards, while the other tightens slowly from the bottom, easing the flesh upwards. The maids do the same at the top, with the excess flesh across my upper back and below my arms with a lace from top down to the ribs, squashing it all towards my waist. The up and down extrusions, of course have left little space for my waist flesh to move into and the final tightening at my waist is an extended canlı bahis affair, where for previous fashions, it has been just two or three lacings, with small breaks to get down to my 18″ dress waist. It is now four or five with extended breaks, in which Biddy I do declare the waist flesh is subsumed into my body, for where else has it to go? When they are finished I am held rigid from breast to thigh, with so little movement, I may as well be the Venus de Milo. But Oh! the pressure! Our short corsets leave us some room to squirm and settle above and below, but this medieval instrument of torture leaves not a jot, and whereas we used to just go pleasantly numb at the waist, when tight laced in this device, the pressure never eases.

And when fully dressed, with my high heeled evening slippers and a skirt that trammels my legs to mid calf, I am sure I move like an automaton and I try to stay as still as possible. George always says I look wonderful and I must admit that I cut a respectable figure, but I always feel on edge throughout the evening, cinched like a trussed turkey, moving with tripping little steps, fighting the skirt and the high heels, careful when I turn, moving smoothly round (as twisting is impossible) and within an hour wishing I was home, as I cannot rest – sitting in that rigid tube is a forlorn hope.

Biddy, I beseech you, just leave it at a small nod towards this fashion, as to follow it is near torture, I am constantly wishing for the end of the season, as at present my torso is being choked away, three or four times a week, I tell you, I can hardly wait until I visit you in the summer – the thought of a week in short light stays, loose skirts and low heels quickens my heart. But until then I must submit to the torture of these rigorous underpinnings that I am sure no doctor would allow even the most recalcitrant bedlam inmate to suffer.

Yours, Dorothy

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