(Originally posted 4/13/2013)
As I scarf down a few cinnamon rolls, a few meaning the Pilsbury-in-a-can size, and take a break from catching up on my fave TV show Nashville, I realized it’s been two months since I posted.
So I’ve thrown in the soundtrack to Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and I’m posting about the Victorian lady’s wardrobe today.
During the Victorian Era, the female fashion and figure changed dramatically from the 1860s to the final years of the century. Many people associate the look of the 1860s as the hoop skirts with layers of crinoline and petticoats, tight corsets and ringlets of curls framing faces. I think instantly of Scarlet O’ Hara or Jo March. The fashion of the pre and post Civil War and Queen Victoria’s morning period.
But styles changed by the 1890s, a period that dominates the Steampunk genre because the Fin de Siecle was the age of advancing technology and cutting edge invention and theories. Women’s fashion was no exception.
Unfortunately, a blog post featuring all the infinite details of a woman’s dress in this era would be long and probably boring, so I will stick to the most visible and visual of her outfit. And I will stick to the fashionable elite.
Dresses, Ball Gowns, and Sitting Room Attire :
The foremost name in fashion at this time was Charles Fredrick Worth. These are just a few of his lovely 1890s gowns. The mutton sleeves, or poofy at the shoulders, was beginning to show up. Gone are the layers of crinoline and petticoats and even the bustle of the 1870s and 1880s is vanishing from the lines.
A woman’s wardrobe had numerous dresses for every occasion. She had evening gowns for formal dinners or small social affairs. She had elaborately decorated ball gowns to be the envy and catch a handsome dandy’s eye. She had simple yet stunning day dresses usually with an accompanying overcoat to run errands about town or more luxurious traveling wear to be seen out and about. Teagowns – not shown- were for the everyday run about the house, or worn especially during pregnancy due to the voluminous laces and flowing material that allowed ease to put on and move about.
You can check out this fabulous Pinterest page The House of Worth to see even more beautiful dresses from the Victorian Era into the mid-Twentieth Century.
Gloves, Hats, Umbrellas or Parasols :
Just as gentlemen looked fashionable with their walking canes, women never left the house without their stylish and expensive umbrella or parasol. Gloves were practically required during this time. At the end of the century, black chamois gloves were highly fashionable for day wear, but white was still popular for evening attire and balls. As many day dresses were two pieces, they may have worn a blouse with an ascot style neckline and had need of a pin to hold their ascot in place. Hatpins were also highly fashionable and had beads and other jewels. Hats at the Turn of the Century were sometimes similar to the bonnets of the 1860s, tying around the chin with large ribbons, or they were fixed to the top of the head with a hatpin. They were small and decorated with silk flowers and bird feathers ribbons and bows. It would be another ten years before the large brimmed Edwardian hats surfaced – my most favorite vintage hat of all time.