The Wall Street Journal has a rather interesting and unusual article about Victorian underwear seminars held by one Deanne Gist, noted historical fiction romance novelist. The purpose of the seminars? To make intimate scenes between characters more historically accurate.
It took an hour for Ms. Gist to squeeze into a dozen layers that a lady would have worn in the 1860s—stockings, garters, bloomers, chemise, corset, crinoline or hoop skirt, petticoats, a shirtwaist or blouse, skirt, vest and bolero jacket. By the end, workshop attendees were skeptical that seductions ever occurred, with so many sartorial barriers.
"How did they ever have hanky panky?" asked novelist Annie Solomon.
With great effort, it turns out. Women wore blouses under their corsets—making actual bodice ripping fairly pointless. Corsets fastened in front and laced up the back and couldn't be undone in a single passionate gesture.
From the sounds of it, most lovemaking of the 19th century could not be quick and dirty- at least not in the nude. It would be nearly impossible to get all of that clothing off.
But the article does say something for the dedication of some writers to make sure that their writing is as good as possible. Even though romance writers tend to get a bad rap, these women are truly dedicated to making their stories as well-written and accurate as possible.
Read the article here.