Fashion 101: Victorian Style

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time again!  That’s right, it’s time for fashion 101! And today’s topic is…the Victorian era, so let’s jump in!

One of the distinguishing aspects of Victorian era fashion was the colors used in apparel.  If you were a female, you could most likely be spotted from miles away during this period, as garments were quite bold, flaunting such vivid colors as bright green, deep red, and royal blue.  These shades emerged from analine dyes, which were inadvertently stumbled upon by a British chemist, who was concocting a purple color.  Analine is an organic compound that is poisonous, oily, and clear.  As for colors of men’s garments, they were typically vivid, but dark shades.

Victorian Top Hat – Black:

Victorian Top Hat - Black

In terms of style, Victorian men had it good with clothing being comfortable and loose-fitting.  This was a change from the proper form-fitting looks of past periods.  Men’s fashion was characterized by trousers with marked creases, vests, and coats.  Because it was considered indecent for people to reveal their bare arms in public, coats were a big trend.  Waist coats were often worn, as well as single breasted, small collared day coats called sack coats, which had rounded hemlines.  And of course, the finishing touch…you guessed it…the top hat.  This tall, cylindrical hat took over the powdered wig practice of earlier periods and was a symbol of elegance and refinement.  To add to their appearance, men accessorized their look with pocket watches, canes, gloves, and ties.

As for those of the female species during the Victorian era, their wardrobe didn’t pan out to be quite as loose-fitting as the men.  Like past periods, their dresses were stiff, long, and bulky.  A boned corset with a weighted skirt, due to adornments, supported by metal hoops made up the composition of the garment.  Day dresses possessed wide, loose sleeves with silk or cotton under sleeves while evening dresses had short, puffy sleeves.

Victorian Boot:

Victorian Boot

Other accessories of women’s fashion included bonnets, capes, gloves, and shoes.  Just as men had top hats, the feminine headwear was the bonnet, made of either straw or horse hair, decorated with ribbon or lace.  The equivalent for the men’s coat was the cashmere cape for the women.  They came in various lengths and could be hooded or unhooded, sometimes with a clasp.  Because Victorian society valued softness of hands as a sign of breeding, gloves were essential for all women.  These hand coverings were often fingerless.  And last, but not least, were shoes.  As dresses were long, shoes were not anything special, usually a soft, flat0footed kid boot.

To see our collection of Victorian clothing, top hats, and more, visit http://www.historicalclothingrealm.com/.

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