Early 18th century British stomacher, silk and metal. Early 18th century British stomacher, silk and metal. Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, acc. no. 2009.300.2196.

A stomacher is a triangular panel covering a U- or V-shaped gap in a doublet or gown. A stomacher may be boned, part of a corset or cover the corset. Stomachers were normally very ornamental. During the latter half of the fifteenth century, many European urban men and women started to wear stomachers (which were then called a ‘placard’ or a ‘placket’) with open fronted doublets (men) and gowns (women).

By the end of the sixteenth century, stomachers were only worn by women. Stomachers were often decorated with embroidery and there are various contemporary pattern books that include designs for stomachers, such as an early seventeenth century Dutch album now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (acc. no. 55.583.1). Sometimes the stomachers were stitched or pinned in place, on other occasions they were held in place by the lacings of the gown’s bodice. Occasionally, the term stomacher is also used to describe a single piece or set of jewellery that is used to ornament either a cloth stomacher or a bodice.

Stomachers went out of fashion in the late eighteenth century.

See also the portrait of Margaret Graham, Lady Napier; Portrait of a Young Girl


  • CUMMING, Valerie, C.W. Cunnington and P.E. Cunnington (2010). The Dictionary of Fashion History, Oxford/New York: Berg, pp. 195-196.
  • WARDLE, Patricia (1986). 'Embroidery most sumptuously wrought: Dutch embroidery designs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York', Bulletin of the Needle and Bobbin Club, 69, pp. 2-44.
  • (retrieved 12 June 2016).

Metropolitan Museum of Art online catalogue (retrieved 12 June 2016).


Last modified on Friday, 09 December 2016 21:30
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