"undoing some hooks of her bodice"

An example of a bodice shown in Joseph Julien's
Public DomainAn example of a bodice shown in Joseph Julien's "The Hay Harvest"

Bodices were commonly worn by women in the nineteenth century. Fastened with a hook and eye system (similar to the clasps on a bra), they cinched in the waist to achieve the classic hour-glass figure.