Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection


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Costume; Costume accessories; Worn costume accessories; Accessories by location above the waist


Silk, cotton, jet beads


1850s-1860s. Black silk Swiss waist, laced at center front and center back, and decorated with self-trim knife pleats and jet bead trim. The front is in poor condition.

This Swiss waist comes to just below the bustline in front and forms sharp points at the center top and bottom edges of both front and back. It would have been worn as an accessory over a blouse or dress bodice. Each front panel is cut in one piece with a brown glazed or polished cotton lining and is shaped with two whalebone-stiffened darts under the bust. Each back panel is also cut in one piece with the same cotton lining. The front and back panels are sewn together at the side seam with a fairly wide seam allowance, left accessible and unfinished on the inside. Both center front and both center back edges are folded to the inside and turned under before being stitched to the lining, and are stiffened with whalebone to support the lacing eyelets. Ten hand-sewn eyelets at each front edge and nine hand-sewn eyelets at each back edge are worked just beside the whalebone reinforcement.

Narrow piping made of the same black silk finishes the top and bottom edges. The raw edges of the piping are turned under and neatly hand-finished. The Swiss waist is further decorated at both front and back with a 3.2 cm / 1.25 in. wide band of self-fabric trim running diagonally out from the waist points to the top edges, flanking the lacing eyelets. This trim is made of strips cut on the straight grain, raw edges turned to the back, and crisply knife-pleated. Narrow jet bead trim is sewn down along the center line of the pleats. Hand-sewn.


Waist: 54.6 cm / 21.5 in.
Height at openings: 24.8 cm / 9.75 in.
Side seam: 10.8 cm / 4.25 in.

Museum Number



University of New Hampshire Library


Astrida Schaeffer, photographer/curator

Date Digitized


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License


The Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection digital catalog was produced by the UNH Library Digital Collection Initiative, supported in part by a grant from the Mooseplate program and New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. Additional funding provided by the E. Ruth Buxton Stephenson Memorial Fund.
Photography copyright, Astrida Schaeffer.


Bodices, Swiss waists, Cinchers, Waist cinchers, 1850s-1860s, Silk, Black (color), Lacing, Eyelets, Self-trim, Knife pleats, Jet beads, Glazed cotton lining, Polished cotton lining, Whalebone-stiffened darts, Hand-sewn