Like everything in fashion, stomachers came in and out of vogue, but during the 18th century they were very much statement pieces especially those made for the wealthier members of society and the newspapers always deemed elaborate stomachers worthy of mention when describing the outfits worn by the nobility.
A stomacher is a triangular shaped panel that fills the front of a woman’s gown and was worn from around the 15th century, but of course today we’re going to take a look at some of the ones worn in the 18th century.
By the end of the 18th-century stomachers could be as deep as 10 inches below the waist which would have made them slightly more uncomfortable for a woman to sit down.
In this painting, we can clearly see the beautiful stomacher worn by Madame de Pompadour, renown for her love of fashion.
They were often embroidered or covered with jewels, none more so than those designed for royalty as shown in this newspaper article.
St. James’s Chronicle or the British Evening Post, August 13, 1761
The rich diamond stomacher for our intended Queen is quite finished, and is the richest thing of the kind ever seen; the capital stone of which is worth about fifteen thousand pounds and the whole piece is valued at one hundred thousand pounds.
Morning Post and Gazetteer, Thursday, March 13, 1800
Fashions vary here as often as the wind; Negligés are now worn, the stomacher of which falls lower than the girdle. The robes are very open at the bosom. The girdles are tied either before or behind.
General Evening Post, October 8, 1778
On Thursday evening about seven o’clock their majesties set out from St James’s to stand sponsors for the newborn daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Chandos: her majesty was magnificently dressed in white, flounced with silver and a superb stomacher; the Countess of Hertford, as Lady of the Bedchamber and Miss Vernon and Jefferys, all dress in white, attended on the occasion. His majesty was dressed in a French grey with silver trimming.
Morning Post and Daily Advertiser, Wednesday, January 18, 1792
The stomacher to be worn today by the Duchess of York is valued at twenty-two thousand pounds – it consists entirely of diamonds; the centre stone alone is supposed to be worth £10,000. The top is festooned, and the centre diamond is set brilliant fashion, as are all the others, pendant in rows from the festoon, in the most elegant manner that can be imagined.
And finally, we came across this sad story in World and Fashionable Advertiser, Monday, July 16, 1787.
The following are the particulars of the unfortunate girl who hung herself last Wednesday week in South Moulton Street: She had been to the Haymarket Theatre with her friend and constant companion Miss Edwards; upon the latter intimating a wish to retire, Miss Charlotte Wood requested she would, and said she should follow shortly. Upon her friend retiring, she sent the maid to bed, and bolted the dining room door. Nothing was heard that night; the next morning she was found hanging in her garters from a peg in a closet with a paper pinned to her stomacher, expressing she had committed this rash act from the love she bore to a Mr A____r, who, we understand is a musician in this town.