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A stomacher of cream silk embroidered with coloured silk and silver-gilt thread to resemble the front of a man's waistcoat (buttons, false buttonholes and skirts). Italy, 1760-1780. Given by Mrs P Sanguinetti. Museum number: T.182-1958. Victoria & Albert Museum © V&A Images

A stomacher is a decorative panel of fabric, usually triangular in shape, worn to fill the space between the front edges of a woman’s open gown. The stomacher formed part of the ensemble of fashionable women’s dress from the 1680s to the 1780s. This example mimics the buttoned fastening and skirts of a man’s waistcoat. It may well have been worn with a jacket styled after masculine fashions, such as a woman’s riding coat. The design and execution of the embroidery, as well as the style of the stomacher, suggest an Italian origin.

Bibliographic References: Avril Hart and Susan North, Historical Fashion in Detail: the 17th and 18th centuries, London: V&A, 1998, p. 202