The mere male of the species is occasionally given a glimpse into the world of ladies tailoring, at the skills of the corsetière, and at the advantages of a well-made wig, all courtesy of the cartoonist. Here is a splendidly irreverent one, drawn by Charles Ansell and published in 1799. It appears on the Lewis Walpole Library site and is entitled The Virgin Shape Warehouse:
On the left a lady in a poke bonnet enters the room where a short man is encouraging a tall, lanky, and somewhat under-endowed young woman to try on a pair of falsies. In the centre, and definitely wearing Big Pants, a large lady admires her image in the mirror as the tailor demonstrates what he can push in, pull out, reduce and accentuate. On his right an assistant fiddles with a garter while, seated, a young lady pulls on a pair of stockings. Behind are hanging up a variety of bloomers of different sizes, marked as being for ‘six feet ladies’ … ‘for two feet ladies’ etc while on the right a row of pegs holds under-garments tagged ‘Virgins of 15′ (small) ‘Virgins of 50′ (not so small) and ‘Virgins of 80′ (decidedly large). Wigs of red, blue and green are stacked in boxes on shelves.
The text reads “Charles Trussup takes the Liberty to acquaint the Ladies that he has by dint of intense study, Astronomical, Geographycal, Clerical Agricultural Chronological Physical and Divine Calculations Discovered an immense variety of Convenient, Comfortable and captivating articles for the Ladies; first his warm and well-contriv’d Drawers which will in all weathers keep warm the most delicate or Antiquated Virgin bottom, in spite of the rage for thin covering, they are made of flannell, cotton, fleece, hose and various other commodities according to the natural warmth of the parts they are intended to cover. C Trussup has from much observation and reflection prepared commodious Spring Garters for Ladies, allowing them to exercise their legs, in any way they please, without the banefull ligature above the knee which makes the ancle so inelegantly thick and Clumsy; also his wonderfull Wigs calculated by Astronomical & Chronological researches to suit the largest smallest, thickest thinnest, strongest and weakest heads, to the immense advantage of elderly Young Ladies; but above all, his favourite & accommodating Circassian Vests, alias Bosom Friends, which permit free respiration, prevents all pressure on the chest, raises the languid Breast to the appearance of a Juvenille heaving Bosom and preserves the pure Virgin Shape to the latest period of Life. NB resolves all sorts of lawful & intricate Questions in Law. Physic, Divinity, Astronomy, Astrology & Geography and in short is the only Man in existence capable of treating on all subjects in the Habitable World.
Long live Mr Truss-up, and here’s to Bosom Friends, I say!