Silk Brocade Whaleboned Stays

Silk Brocade Whaleboned Stays, c. 1770s, Austria. The Underpinnings Museum. Photography by Tigz Rice.

Date: c. 1770s

Origin: Austria

Fabric: Silk brocade, linen, baleen (whalebone)

Brand: Custom made


The stays were found hidden in a Tyrolean farm, with little known about their original history. The materials and style suggest that they were made in the 18th century. The garment is well worn with multiple repairs and alterations. It is entirely hand sewn, and was originally made with an exterior of luxurious silk brocade.

The lining was likely originally linen, and both the interior and exterior of the garment have been repeatedly patched and repaired with numerous different fabrics. The garment is structured with many pieces of baleen, with what appears to be a metal busk at the front. It is possible that these stays were later worn as a fancy dress item in the 19th century, as there appear to be c. 19th century hook and eye fastenings sewn onto the garment. It fastens with lacing through hand sewn eyelets at the centre back, though this lacing was likely replaced at a later date.

Medical grade X-rays of this garment can be viewed here.


Kindly donated to The Underpinnings Museum collection by

Museum number: UM-2017-032


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