Boobs are such an issue in the Regency.

Seriously, they're just in such *weird* places!

Naturally, or rather unnaturally, we as costumers want to try to achieve these, um, heights, and do so by trying to re-create the undies that created such effects.

I've made a lot of Regency stays, which is odd since I hardly ever dress in this period, but the reason is because I never seem to get it right with the silhouette.  So I asked the famous Maggie, Regency fairy-queen extraordinaire, her advice on how to achieve the proper early 19th c. boob shape.  Here's what she had to say:

  • Gussets - make them shallow and wide, to the point of needing a drawstring to bring them in.
  • Add boning or cording under the gussets, to keep the girls from creeping down.
  • Bits hanging out/over the top of the stays is okay - these bits are controlled by the shift.
  • Try back-lacing with a front busk.
  • Make LOTS of mock-ups.

My aim is to make short stays, so naturally I went looking for inspiration and reference first.  Here is what I found...

The Met, marked 1861, but surprisingly Regency flavored - (thank you to Amanda, who confirmed these are indeed mid-19th century, NOT Regency)  These are surprisingly close to the pattern I want to do for mine, except there are no bust gussets, and they lace both back and front.
V and A, 1790 - transitional stays.  Not the overall shape I want, but some serious support as well as separation for the bust.
Corset, Epoque Empire, musee Galliera, Paris - this might be a style to try.  It doesn't have the double-bust-gussets, but is of a length that could accommodate a busk nicely.
In my hunting, I found this article from the Oregon Regency Society to be extremely helpful - complete with very clear and clever illustrations!  So now it's on to testing out these patterns and theories...