A bodice is an article of
clothingfor women, covering the body from the neck to the waist.
The term comes from "pair of bodies" (because the garment was originally made in two pieces that fastened together, frequently by lacing).
In common usage, "bodice" refers to an upper garment that has removable
sleeves or no sleeves, often low-cut, worn in Europefrom the sixteenth centuryto the eighteenth century, either over a corsetor in lieu of one. To achieve a fashionable shape and support the bust, the bodice was frequently stiffened with "bents" (a type of reed), or whalebone. The bodice was also different from the corsetof the time because of the way it laced. The corset was laced in spiral fashion, with one continuous lace. The bodice was laced like the modern tennis shoe, with eyelets facing one another. This was more convenient for women who had to dress themselves.
Bodices survive into modern times in the traditional or revived folk dress of many
European countries (see, for example, Austrian dirndlor the Aboyne dressworn by Scottish highland dancers).
"Bodice" continues in use to refer to the upper portion of a one- or two-piece
dressto distinguish it from the skirtand sleeves. The bodice of a dress was called the "corsage" in the nineteenth century.
Bodices are commonly seen today at SCA events or a
Arnold, Janet: "Patterns of Fashion: the cut and construction of clothes for men and women 1560-1620", Macmillan 1985. (ISBN 0-89676-083-9)
Steele, Valerie: "The Corset: A Cultural History" Yale University Press, 2001.
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