Victorian Era Women’s Fashions: From Hoop Skirts to Bustles

Dolores ‘s pastime in fashion history dates from her adolescent years when vintage apparel was widely available in thrift stores .Victorian fashion plate: left is an early 1880s daywear dress; center is an 1880s evening dress; right is a mid-1880s day dress. victorian manner denture : leave is an early 1880s daywear dress ; center is an 1880s evening dress ; veracious is a mid-1880s day dress. Uploaded by Churchh ; wikimedia commons ; Public Domaiin

Quick Facts About Victorian Fashion

  • An hourglass silhouette was accentuated by tight corsets.
  • Extreme styles introduced hoop skirts and bustles to fashion.
  • The creation of synthetic dyes led to bright, wild colors.
  • Highly ornamental fashions included ruffles, lace, and draping.
  • The Aesthetic and Rational Dress movements questioned the dictate of fashion.

Victorian Clothing: Prim, Proper, and Outrageous

Despite the prim and proper feminine ideal of the fourth dimension, fashions of the victorian period created an much exaggerated, ostentatious expect. Tight corsets, gigantic hoop skirts, and exorbitant bustles make today ‘s fashion trends look grave by comparison. clothing styles were dictated by propriety, and stylish garments were a sign of respectability. The copious amounts of framework used in the initiation of victorian skirts normally meant that most women owned few outfits. detachable collars and cuffs enabled a woman to change the expect of a dress for a moment of variety. Of naturally, wealthier women owned more garments that were made of all right fabrics and used more material and embellishments .Victorian riding habit circa 1847—in those days, women rode side saddle. victorian riding substance abuse circa 1847—in those days, women rode side saddleback. Uploaded by Churchh ; Wikimedia Commons ; Public Domain

The Victorian Period in Fashion: Historical Background

The victorian period, generally the fourth dimension between 1837 and the 1890s, is named after Britain ‘s Queen Victoria ( 1819–1901 ), a durable and highly influential sovereign in an earned run average when women had little baron or opportunity. In those days, women lived at the largess of men—first their fathers or guardians, then their husbands. A young dame was expected to be meek and mild, to acquiesce to her don ‘s or conserve ‘s wishes. A womanhood ‘s intelligence and wag were restricted to social events and amusing conversation .

Jobs for Women

use opportunities were limited to teaching young girls, being a govern, domestic servitude, and late factory or mill study. Of course, rural women had plenty of exercise if they lived on a farm. Some women earned money from bungalow industries, but the Industrial Revolution put an end to enterprises such as spinning thread and making lace at home .

The Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution created new wealth for investors, industrialists, and merchants. It introduced a new middle course who, gallant of their condition, displayed their wealth with great ostentation. Women wore their condition in fabric, and lots of it—from the mid-century hoop skirts to the bustle by and by on in the beautiful dresses and styles of the victorian period. The Industrial Revolution created a new urbanization as towns and cities filled with workers for the new mills and factories where women worked farseeing hours in blue, dirty, and frequently dangerous conditions .Queen Victoria 1845 – Portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter Queen Victoria 1845 – Portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter Uploaded by Krinkle ; wikimedia commons ; Public Domain

Early Victorian Fashion

1836 usher in a modern exchange from the romantic style of dress. Large Gignot sleeves suddenly slimmed and a seam lineage dropped the shoulder of dresses. A tight-fitting bodice was boned and slanted to emphasize the shank. Cartridge pleats at the waist created volume in the annulus without adding bulk to the shank. Women of a higher social class were expected to be coy and indolent as reflected by the restrictive dropped shoulder lines and corsets .

  • Dresses in soft colors could be refreshed with detachable white collars and cuffs.
  • In the 1840s, extra flounces were added to skirts and women wore a short over-skirt in day dressing. Skirts widened as the hourglass silhouette became the popular look, and women took to wearing layers of petticoats. Bodices took on a V shape and the shoulder dropped more.
  • Evening wear exposed the shoulders and neckline, and corsets lost their shoulder straps. Sleeves of ball gowns were usually short.
  • Although women wore what we call “dresses,” many of these costumes were actually a separate bodice and skirt.
  • Three-quarter length sleeves lasted through most of the Victorian period and some sleeves began to sprout bell-shaped ruffles.
  • For most of the 19th century, bonnets were the headgear of choice. Styles varied from plain to heavily ornamented.

Victorian Hair and Makeup

Women ‘s hair was broadly worn long, caught up in a chignon or bun. In the 1840s, ringlets of curls hung on either side of the lead. In the 1870s, women drew up the side hair but let it hang in long, loose curls in the back. crimp became popular in the early 1870s. Throughout the priggish period, women wore false hairpieces and extensions equally well as artificial flowers such as velvet pansies and roses, false leaves, and beaded butterflies, frequently combined into intricate and beautiful headpieces. makeup was largely worn by theater people. The search for women in priggish days was very picket skin, occasionally highlighted with a shred of rouge on the boldness .Late Victorian corset. deep priggish corset. Uploaded by Haabet ; wikimedia commons ; Public Domain

The Victorian Corset

A corset is an undergarment put with strips of whalebone ( actually whale whalebone ), later replaced by steel. Though criticized as unhealthy, and surely uncomfortable, corsets were a fashion staple throughout the nineteenth century, granting women social condition, respectability, and the idealize human body of youth. Often called “ stays, ” from the french “ estayer, ” meaning support. Corsets were thought to provide patronize to women, the weaker sexual activity. Critics, including some health professionals, believed that corsets caused cancer, anemia, birth defects, miscarriages, and damage to inner organs. The nasty restriction of the body did consume lung capacity and caused faint. The popular concept of an obsession with a bantam waist is credibly overdo. The competition of cinching to improbable dimensions was more of a fetish or a fad and not the average as depicted in the 1939 film Gone with the Wind when Scarlett O’Hara cinches her corset to a 17 ” shank .A cage crinoline.A cage crinoline.Ruffled skirts in 1853From drawing by PauquetEmpress Elisabeth of Austria in 1865;Oil painting by Franz Xaver Winterhalter

A cage crinoline.

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Mid-Victorian Crinolines and Hoop Skirts

In the 1850s, the dome-shaped skirt switched to tapered skirts that flared at the waist. The new hourglass figure grew to overstate proportions. Layers of petticoats were on the spur of the moment not enough and the hoopskirt was introduced to add volume to skirts. Crinoline was a clayey, cadaver framework made of woven horsehair that was expensive and impossible to clean .

Hoop Skirts (Cage Crinolines)

In the 1850s, a cage-like affair replaced the multi-layered petticoats. Called hoop skirts, batting cage crinolines, or cages, they were lightweight, economic and more comfortable than the heavy crinolines. Cage crinolines, which produced the huge, tortuous skirts so frequently associated with mid-century victorian fashion, were made of compromising jump steel rings suspended from fabric tape. The expression was so democratic and economic that lower-middle-class women, maids, and factory girls sported the stylus. Cheaper hoop skirts included a twelve hoops while the costly variety featured 20–40 hoops for a smoother line. The wicket industry grew large and two New York factories produced 3,000 to 4,000 hoop cages a day, employing thousands of workers. early versions of basket skirts reached the floor, but hemlines rose in the 1860s. Sleeves were much tight at the top, opening at the bottom in a bell-like shape.

Woman dressed in the manner of the Aesthetics; "Symphony in White," 1862 painting by James Abbott Whistler Woman dressed in the manner of the Aesthetics ; “ Symphony in White, ” 1862 painting by James Abbott Whistler Uploaded by Deadstar ; wikimedia commons ; Public Domain

The Sewing Machine and Victorian Technology

The mass production of sewing machines in the 1850s, angstrom well as the advent of synthetic dyes, introduced major changes in manner. previously, dress was handsewn using natural dyes. other new developments included the size paper convention ampere well as machines that could slice respective pattern pieces at once. invest could now be produced cursorily and cheaply. In 1860, Charles Worth, a clothe interior designer in Paris, France, created costumes worn by the french Empress Eugenie, Empress Elizabeth of Austria, and Queen Victoria. Worth became so influential that he is known as the Father of Haute Couture ( high fashion ). In 1864, Worth introduced an over-skirt that was lifted and held back by buttons and tabs. By 1868, the over-skirt was drawn back and looped, creating comprehensiveness and curtain at the rear .

Scaling Back the Ornamentation

meanwhile, certain fashion mavens felt that the over ornamentation had gone excessively army for the liberation of rwanda. The New Princess Line was a simple form of trim, cut in one slice of connect panels, fitted from shoulder to hem. The Gabriel Princess dress produced a reduce silhouette in plain or muted colors with a minor white collar and a full, though greatly diminished skirt .

  • The Bloomer Costume, named after feminist Amelia Bloomer, featured a full, short skirt worn over wide trousers for ease of movement. The style did not go over well and was often ridiculed in the press.
  • Followers of the Aesthetic movement despised the Industrial Revolution, exaggerated fashions, and the use of the new synthetic dyes that produced sometimes lurid colors, and weird color combinations. These intellectuals, artists, and literary folk longed for a simpler life and the costumes that reflected the lifestyle. Garments were loose and unstructured, used soft colors created with natural dyes, and were embellished by hand embroidery featuring motifs drawn from nature.

Rear fullness due to bustle (1870s). rise comprehensiveness due to bustle ( 1870s ). wikimedia commons ; Public Domain

Late Victorian: The Bustle

A bustle is a pad that emphasized the rear of a skirt. Used in the late 1700s when swagged up skirts emphasized the back of a costume, they finally became the prime focus of fashion. By the late 1800s, rear pads were called bustles. Held on with a buckle girdle, the bustle was a orthogonal or crescent pad made of horsehair or down-filled woven wire engagement .

  • 1868 saw a fullness appear at the back of the skirt. The ideal female form featured narrow, slope shoulders, wide hips, and a tiny waist.
  • By 1867, Worth’s over-skirt caught on and combined with a bustle created an entirely new look.
  • In 1870, ball gowns featured trains. By 1873, trains showed up in day dresses. Trains were a short-lived style, however, as they quickly became soiled dragging along city streets.
  • 1875 saw skirts slimmed down with the skirt low and close to the body—often, but not always, with a bustle.

Growth and Decline of the Bustle

The bustle came back in a big way in the 1880s, creating a huge, shelf-like bulge at the rear. But the absurd expressive style fell out of favor and by 1887, was greatly reduced in size. The 1890s saw some fullness at the rear, but the bustle was on its way out. Women ‘s fashions took on a more tailor count with the introduction of the cuirasse bodice in 1878. The potent, corset-like garment dipped down in both the front and back, and finally reached the upper second joint .

Tea Gowns

popular between 1870 and 1910, the Tea Gown was common tire for women receiving guests at home for tea. The stewardess hoped to depict an artistic sensibility, influenced by illusion, alien styles, and earlier historic periods. The Tea Gown represented a lower grade of formality worn without a corset and made of piano, flowing fabric, and trim .

Mourning Dress

After the death of Prince Albert in 1861, Queen Victoria wore wide bereaved costume. All women wore mourning after the death of a sleep together one. And in a prison term of frequent death, mourning could last quite some meter. There were several stages of mourning trim for a widow survive for 2 1/2 years. The inaugural stage, lasting one year, required women to dress wholly in black. Later, some decoration would be added to lusher fabrics. The last six months of mourning reintroduced some color into a widow ‘s wardrobe including white, grey, and shades of purple. In 1837, british inventor J. Sparks Hall gave Queen Victoria the beginning match of boots that featured elasticized side gussets. The easy-to-wear, slip-on boots caught on and were popular throughout the nineteenth hundred for both men ‘s and women ‘s footwear. Front lacing boots called Balmorals resembled mod boxing boots with pearl buttons. late Victorians much wore Balmorals with contrasting fabric tops .Victorian style, 1880.Victorian style, 1880.Narrow skirts made walking difficult (1880s fashion plate).

priggish style, 1880.

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The Edwardian Era

As Queen Victoria aged, fashionable heads turned toward her son Edward, the Prince of Wales. The combination of his lust for a hedonic life style and the women ‘s emancipation campaign changed the look of fashion for women. queen Victoria died in 1901, but changes come gradually and the era overlapped. The major change in the newfangled edwardian style was the end of the corset and the introduction of the new “ health corset ” with an S bend look .

How to Put on a Corset (Good Luck With That)

Further Reading

  • Daily Life in Victorian England by Sally Mitchell; Greenwood Press
  • Costume and Styles: The Evolution of Fashion From Early Egypt to the Present by Henny Harald Hansen; E. P. Dutton & Co.
  • Encyclopedia of Clothing & Fashion, edited by Valerie Steele; Scribner Library
  • Victorian Fashions : A Pictorial Archive by Carol Belanger Grafton
  • Victorian and Edwardian Fashion A Photographic Survey by Alison Gersheim
  • 19th Century Fashion in Detail by Lucy Johnston
  • A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty by Mimi Matthews

Questions & Answers

Question: Were mob caps worn by women in the belated nineteenth century ? Answer: While syndicate caps are normally associated with an earlier time, some women wore them in the late nineteenth century, normally maids or other servants. The size of the capital was smaller than it had been in the past. A mob crown is made of linen or cotton cut in a circle and gathered to create a ruffle around the edge. The reason it ‘s called a “ throng ” cap is that women wore them during the french Revolution. Question: Were hoops worn under skirts in 1911 ? Answer: Women ‘s skirts of 1911 were narrow, creating a slender silhouette. Hoops and crinolines are worn to create an hourglass figure. The style has come and gone over the centuries from the Wheel Farthingale to the New Look of the late 1940s to the early on 1950s. edwardian dresses did not feature hoops. Question: What are the Dress styles of 1885 – 1920 ? Answer: Women ‘s fashions changed so much over the years that you mention. If you are searching for styles of those periods of time, it would be best to separate your searches. Check out the types of dress wear in the Late Victorian Era for examples of late nineteenth hundred styles. The edwardian era covers 1901 – 1910 or the begin of World War I. There are many answers to your question. You may want to check out fashions by decade to see the differences in invest styles.

Question: What are crinolines ? Answer: A crinoline is a large, wide type of petticoat wear to support voluminous skirts. They were made of weave horsehair, a coarse, strong fabric firm enough to pouf out large skirts. When women wore hoops made of whalebone and late, steel, they were called cage crinolines. © 2011 Dolores Monet

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