UNDER IT ALL
Today, getting dressed is relatively quick and easy. Most
women simply wear a bra and panties and sometimes a
slip or camisole.

In the past, women wore lots of underclothes to give their
dresses the correct shape.
A chemise or "shimmy" was like a long, loose garment
(sort of like a nightgown today) that women wore next to
their skin. Chemises often reached to a woman's knees.
Over her chemise, a woman or girl wore a corset.  
There were lots of different kinds of corsets. Some were
soft. Others had rows of whalebone or steel "stays"
sewed into the fabric to make the corset stiff. Corsets
were laced up the back like a shoe is laced. Later
corsets also had clasps in the front so that it was easier
to put on.  Corsets gave support to a woman's bust, and
they also provided a firm, smooth foundation over which
to wear a fitted bodice.

Some women laced their corsets very tightly, to make it
appear that they had very tiny waists. Although wearing
a corset could make a woman's waist smaller than it
naturally would be, most women had to work too hard
to tight-lace to extremes.
MULES

Mules
are not donkeys, but are the offspring of
a mother horse and a daddy donkey.  As this is
inter-species breeding, mules
usually cannot
reproduce.

There are SOME authenticated cases where a
mare-mule DID give birth to a foal. For these
cases, you might want to visit....

Mules inherit both horse-like and donkey-like
characteristics, and usually look like a mixture of
the two animals. They are usually taller than a
donkey, but have the longer head, longer ears,
smaller hooves, and tail of a donkey. They are
also considered to be both more stubborn,
stronger, more sure-footed,  and more intelligent
than a horse.  True or not, it was believed that a
mule would not overeat or drink too much cold
water or hurt itself in the way that a horse might.

Mules range in size from Mammoth Mules bred
from draft mares, to very small pony-sized mules.
Over her drawers and chemise, the woman wore her
petticoats. In the 18th century, a petticoat was simply a
skirt. By the 19th century, these were undergarments.  
Flannel petticoats were worn in the winter, and cotton or
linen ones were worn all through the year. Some
petticoats were plain and others were extremely
elaborate.

In the 1850s, women liked their skirts to look very large,
and they wore many petticoats underneath to achieve
this look.  Around 1858 the
cage crinoline came into
fashion. This was an underskirt with large metal rings to
hold out the dress. Another variation was a cloth
petticoat with strips of metal or wood inserted into tucks.
Some women in Texas are said to have run grapevines
through tucks in their petticoats to make hoopskirts!

The problem with the cage crinoline and the hooped
petticoats was that they had a tendency to tilt upward,
showing the woman's legs. This made wearing drawers
more of a necessity.
Pantalets or drawers were 19th century panties with
long legs. Little girls sometimes wore pantletts that were
meant to be seen, as they were longer than the girls'
skirts.
The thrifty housewife knit her sturdy stockings at home,
but a wealthier woman might buy more delicate
stockings at the store. Some stockings reached to the
knee, where they were tied round the leg with
garters.  
Other stockings reached a little higher.
In the 1870s and again in the 1880s, a fashionable lady
might wear a
bustle. This was a padded or metal-wire
device that made the skirt protrude in the back.  In the
1830s and 1890s a smaller "roll" was used for a more
subtle effect.
MULES

Mules
are not donkeys, but are the offspring of
a mother horse and a daddy donkey.  As this is
inter-species breeding, mules
usually cannot
reproduce.

There are SOME authenticated cases where a
mare-mule DID give birth to a foal. For these
cases, you might want to visit....

Mules inherit both horse-like and donkey-like
characteristics, and usually look like a mixture of
the two animals. They are usually taller than a
donkey, but have the longer head, longer ears,
smaller hooves, and tail of a donkey. They are
also considered to be both more stubborn,
stronger, more sure-footed,  and more intelligent
than a horse.  True or not, it was believed that a
mule would not overeat or drink too much cold
water or hurt itself in the way that a horse might.

Mules range in size from Mammoth Mules bred
from draft mares, to very small pony-sized mules.
Also in the late 19th century, a woman might wear a
corset cover over her corset. This was simply a fitted
underbodice.
Later in the Century, the chemise and pantletts might be
replaced by a knit
union suit. This knit suit combined top
and drawers, and was popular for wear in cold
weather...although many children complained that the
wool ones were extremely itchy.
Even girls wore corsets. This illustration is from a
mail-order catalog.
These 1867 dresses are held out by elliptical (oval-shaped) hooped
petticoats underneath. Hoops were inconvenient, but in the South they
had the benefit of being very cool.