punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,
punkwalrus
punkwalrus

Attention costumer friends: need help on terms

Okay, I have a character in my upcoming book who is a young girl (c. 12-14) trying to look like a young man in a steampunk Victorian/Jules Vern-style setting. I need something that would be believable as a young man who is a educated mechanic's assistant, who occasionally has to wear men's suits at formal affairs. She needs to look like a young man due to the rampant sexism and misogyny among the scientists, scholars, and working class. Discovery that she is a girl would be a really, really bad thing. She has an "underground tailor" who is very skilled at hiding femininity for women or all ages who have to work with men for such purposes.

Most of the time, she will be wearing a work's shirt with large coveralls, so that won't be a problem, but it's the formal settings where she has to hide her hips and chest in finely-tailored suits in close quarters among highly-educated upper crust scientists. I know that there are difficulties hiding hips and breast, especially since this girl is during her "coming of age;" that is, changing body shape as she gets older. I have done some study on the flapper rage of the 1920s, which while that is post-Victorian, has some of the concepts I am looking at. In order for the flappers to look more "boyish," they usually employed a soft corset. But what other techniques might a young girl use to hide her feminine shape?

Is it possible to "train the body" to stay flat-chested? Kind of like Chinese foot binding, but with hips and chest? I was considering just an overall padding, like a "fat suit," which may be my backup. I want something realistic if I can, especially with Victorian-era technology, although given that this is steampunk, I have a little fictional flexibility.

I am not interested in HOW to make one as much as I need terms and possible examples of the period (think like 1870-1900 range). Also, any other problems a young girl might have in such a ruse. I have already covered the sanitary napkins issue, which I am keeping on the downlow because... TMI, right?
Tags: steampunk, writing
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