Go look at this painting. Go look at it now. Or the rest of this post won't make sense.
It's a painting of a noble lady brushing her hair in what appears to be a state of undress by Bernardino Licinio. I'm going to admit that I actually gasped when I saw this image. She's wearing a white gown with no front opening and no sleeves. The fabric of the dress appears to be tiny pleats or some kind of ribbed fabric. To my eye, it is slightly padded to create a smooth and slightly rounded shape over the torso.
My speculation is that this could be a sort of under gown that will mimic a chemise when a ladder lace gown is placed over it. It would provide support, padding, and take some of the strain off the gown. The skirt of the under gown would act as a petticoat, and you could put another petticoat on underneath it without any visible waist band issues.
This painting is not definitive proof of anything, but is some back up evidence to some ideas I've been wondering about. My experiment with a sewn in stomacher that laces in at the side worked pretty well, but it was no practical at all.
|It's a miracle I never got stuck in this contraption.|
|What I wanted.|
|What I got.|
I also had an issue with the way the shoulder straps sat on the original dress. They were too tight and uncomfortable. I also felt like they weren't set quite far enough on my shoulder for the very wide set straps of the Venetain style. I took my completed gown all apart and made an entirely new under gown to wear under it.
|Front. The new piece is on the left, the original on the right. These pieces I did have to re-cut.|
|The back piece. The altered strap is on the left and the old one on the right. You can see how much I altered the armhole.|
|The middle section is the padded part.|
|The completed under dress. Look at the shape!|
|Very close to the Lady in White I think!|
|This is what was going on underneath.|
|What I wore the rest of the night.|