Victorian Fashion

Any type of article worn in the Victorian era by a wealthy individual was hand made by a tailor, seamstress, corsetiers, or any small shop that specialized in a particular item of clothing. For those who were considered working class, their attire was often hand made by their families, or bought in a store and modified it themselves. However, the quantity of clothes was not as important as the quality of the clothes.

A Victorian womens’ attire was made mostly of dresses, often frilly and overdone in keeping with the rest of the Victorian era. The styles were tight and very uncomfortable which restricted a woman’s movement and even affected how she sat, walked, and her overall body language. This was mainlyl in part due to one particular piece of women’s attire called a corsette. The corsette was worn under their dress, which comprised of two pieces. The top, referred to as the bodice, connected to the skirt with intricate lacing or hooks. The necks of the dresses were often high throughout the era—although the details such as sleeves and waistlines changed from the beginning of the Victorian era to the end.

To compliment their beautiful dresses, pointed shoes were worn with stockings as well as other accessories, such as broaches, bracelets and necklaces. Often a shawl or parasol umbrella completed the look of a Victorian woman.

Typical Victorian men’s clothing was quite the opposite—stiff and somewhat formal. Lacking in color, many of the key pieces that made up a man’s outfit were waistcoats, trousers, smoking coats, cumberbunds, ties and shirts. Three piece suits were very popular. A blazer jacket would also be paired with more casual trousers for a hunting outing or attending a sporting match. Shirts were made of the finest linens and mainly were white in color, or could also be another shade of neutral including black or gray. The typical accessory for a man would be a top hat for more formal occasions, whereas a straw or flatter styled hat would be appropriate for vacationing or boating. The footwear of choice for men was often a pair of boots for casual attire and a lower-heeled shoe were appropriate for more formal occasions.

In the later Victorian years, a shift in thinking occurred regarding styles of clothing to allow for a more casual approach to dress. To accommodate the popularity of sports, hobbies and activities created an acceptance of a more casual dress for biking, tennis, and other physical activities.