European Fashion Heritage Association

Journal Fashion & History

Rich details of dress: stomachers

costume historyFrench fashion

Deconstructing historical dress

Stomachers are panel of fabric that were worn to fill the front edges of an open gown. Usually triangular in shape, they are sucred to the dress with fastenings or pins. Although they became fashionable in women’s dress between the 1680s and 1780s, the stomacher was used since the 16th century in both men and women’s costume.

Even though differing in style, stomachers were usually highly decorative and richly embroidered with designs and materials sometimes matching or contrasting with the gown. The one in the picture below is in light silk taffeta, embroidered in silk and metal threads. The embroidery depicts a multitude of coloured summer flowers and fruits alongside the curved shapes made of the metal threads.