Did ALL Women Wear Stays?

By Mickey Marnstein

Don't ask me why I find this info. An excerpt from a letter from the English trader, George Morgan, (of Baynton, Wharton & Morgan fame) in Kaskaskia, describing the clothing worn by French women during a ball:

"The fashionable ladys wear your large wired caps--All of them Callico or Chintz, Jackets, Petty Coats --A Callico Short Cloak or rather Cardinal or One made of Striped Muslin--No Stays-- they know not What they are..." (Winter 1768-69).(1) This, and the quote I submitted a couple of years ago: "The inhabitants, particularly in the Southern Colonies (what I mean by the Southern colonies is all south of New York). Few, (women) or none of them wear stays in the summer and there are but a few that wear them constantly in the winter, which may be a principal reason why they have such good shapes."(2) To my way of thinking, this would suggest that not every women in the colonies wore stays!

NOTES:
1) Quoted in Mark A. Baker, Sons of a Trackless Forest: The Cumberland Long Hunters of the Eighteenth Century. Baker's Trace Publishing, Franklin, TN, 1997, p. 351. George Morgan Collection. (U of I: Winter 1769) Unpublished letters, Illinois Historical Survey, University of Illinois Library, Champaign-Urbana, IL.
2) The Journal of Nicholas Cresswell: 1774-1777, p. 270 (July 19, 1777, aboard the Brig, H.M.S. Edward, in Long Island Sound). Lincoln Mac Veigh, The Dial Press, NY, 1924.