Timeless Trends: 3 Victorian Era Fashion Highlights

Fashion is not confined to a single form; it is all about trying new fashion trends using new designs, fabric materials, accessories, and colors, and as a true fashion lover, you must understand that.

The fashion in Britain kept changing with the eras, and each era had its specialty, which marked it differently from the other eras.

1. About Victorian Era Fashion

The Victorian era fashion was one of the most beautiful eras in fashion; it was a period between 1837 and 1901 when Queen Victoria was on the throne.

The prominent fashion eras in Britain were the early Victorian period, the Edwardian fashion era, World War II, the Twenties, and the Sixties.

Victorian-era fashion to date is admired all around the world. The fashion styles were differentiated and classified based on class, gender, wealth, and societal position.

The clothing was sometimes even uncomfortable, but it was still appealing to the eye because it was fashionable. Read along to find out more about Victorian Fashion.

two women walking the streets of Paris handmade drawing vector art
By: Oliver/Shutterstock

2. The Change in Victorian Era Fashion with Time

The beginning of Victorian-era fashion for women and young girls was all about long, large dresses, hoop skirts, and top hats like poke bonnets, which complemented their dresses well. 

Victorian fashion is given major focus whenever fashion history is studied, as much of today’s fashion has evolved.

The upper-class and middle-class women commonly wore fancy dresses, and the men wore an overcoat, trousers, hats, and ties.

Surprisingly, there were vast differences in the fashion trends, which were only a few years apart; for instance, if a particular clothing trend was popular in the 1830s, there was a completely different trend in the 1850s.

Changes were seen in dressing gowns and patterns, fabrics, day dresses, undergarments, and hairstyles.

As the Victorian era witnessed the Industrial Revolution, clothes manufacturing became simpler. The industrial revolution was one of the major contributors to diversity in fashion.

Sewing machines made the production of complicated dresses easier. Synthetic dyes helped create more colors to make the outfits look gorgeous and colorful.

Many plates of synthetic dyes.
By: RHJPhtotos/Shutterstock

1830s fashion was all about super fancy dresses, more accessories, elegant women’s gowns, and bonnets.

However, the next year, the fashion toned down, earthy colors became popular, and minimal accessory looks were trending among women.

If you are into classic literature, you can relate the dresses from the 1840s to those shown in Jane Eyre, the novel, or the movie.

In the 1850s, French-inspired fashion was everywhere, be it French laces with pearls or more flowers for decorations.

This was to portray women as more delicate and graceful. Cage crinolines were introduced in 1856, and crinolines were dresses to support skirts.

The cage crinolines were manufactured from the spring steel wire and were also called a ‘skeleton petticoat of steel springs.’

Other materials like whalebone and natural rubber were also used in their making. Also, Victorian women wore hoop skirts to make the gown look wider and bigger.

Again, in 1856- 1860, there was a slight decline in loud fashion trends as earthy colors like brown, olive green, yellow, grey, and black became popular.

In the 1870s, again, there was a peak in fashion as pastel colors were in trend, more decorations were made in the outfits by the designers, bodices got higher, and crinolines bustle dresses provided wide support at the back.

two vintage mannequins with victoria era fashion outfits.
Editorial credit: Sarycheva Olesia / Shutterstock.com

Bell-shaped sleeves were enormous in the 1870s. During the 1880s, collar patterns changed, the strict fashionable silhouette looks (Victorian Silhouettes) were popular, and in the 1890s, huge flowy sleeves were trending. 

Different outfits were worn for different activities like day dresses, afternoon tea gowns, sportswear, and evening gowns, which also had variations based on where it is to be worn, for instance, if it were to be worn at a concert or opera or a ball. 

Bare-shoulder evening dresses were trendy for balls, and in fact, it seems that the bare-shoulder look from the Victorian period somewhat inspires the off-shoulder tops and dresses of today’s time.

After the death of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria wore black gowns; thus, gowns started being worn among ordinary people to express sorrow and grief.

3. Features of Victorian-Style Clothes

Some important aspects of Victorian clothing era fashion for women were:

3.1. Corsets

A white corset is being worn by a woman.
By: Julio Ricco/Shutterstock

The corset was a part of Victorian women’s undergarments; these corsets gained popularity after the Victorian era.

Initially, it was used as an undergarment, but later on, on an occasional basis, women wore it as an outer garment.

Corsets caused many disorders in women, as they were very uncomfortable and excessively tight. They constrained the movement and made one look stiff. 

Later, with the evolution of fashion, the super-tightening corsets lost their shoulder straps. To focus and highlight the small waists of the ladies, boning corsets were used in long gowns.

The corsets’ function was to hold tightly on the waistline to emphasize the slim waist of the female wearing it. 

It also helped stop horizontal creasing. Although corsets successfully highlighted the waist, they had many adverse effects on women’s health due to the body’s tight lacing.

3.2. Victorian Hats

A view of victorian hats on a plain black background.
By: Trudy Wilkerson/Shutterstock

Hats also underwent an evolution during this time. Victorian women wore hats to complement their fashionable dresses and hairstyles; they had hats for formal occasions and any more relaxed normal occasions, such as morning wear, riding, and walking.

Victorian hats were made beautifully; they were extremely appealing to the eye, with their different shapes, amazing decorations, and designs. Bows, silk flowers, ribbons, feathers, and laces made hats and bonnets more beautiful.

Victorian women wore bonnets during Queen Victoria’s accession; straw and fabric bonnets were a must-wear part of women’s clothing in the mid-19th century.

 3.3. Victorian Hairstyles 

Long hair was trendy in the Victorian era simply because it was considered more feminine. Short hair was a sign of sickness, or it showed the lady had undergone treatment.

The 1870s had the most complicated and difficult-to-do hairstyles, like the Marcel wave, crimped updos, the Victorian mullet, and children’s sugar or barley curls.

A beautiful woman with a victorian hairstyle.
By: SvetlanaFedoseyeva/Shutterstock

However, the hairstyles were much simpler in the 1840-1860 period; at the end of the 1870s, bangs became popular.

4. Victorian-Era Fashion for Men

Victorian-era fashion for men was not that unique and didn’t have the variety that women’s fashion had.

In the early years of the Victorian era, men wore stove-pipe pants. Men were supposed to wear formal clothes to display rigidity and discipline.

Men’s standard formal wear suits consisted of three garments: breeches, waistcoats, and coats. They could be made of fabrics like linen, silk, and wool.

A suite of three identical pieces was known as a ditto suit. The upper-middle-class men wore Dicken’s costume, including a top hat, double-breasted vest, tailcoat, and high waist with button-on suspenders.

A man standing in a black overcoat and a stick in his hand.
By: Ysbrand Cosijn/Shutterstock

Shoes were pointed and low-heeled. The Victorian men’s accessories reflected their social status, elegance, business, and dominance.

The frock coat was a part of Victorian men’s clothing worn through the 18th -20th centuries. It is a collared knee-length overcoat buttoned to the waist.

5. Closing Thoughts

To conclude, the Victorian Era was a turning point for all the fashion trends, reflecting the changing society.

The Industrial Revolution enabled Victorian Era fashion to take its form, making it very interesting and novel.

Thus, you can still see the imprints of Victorian-era fashion on today’s trends and in shows and movies. 

Whether you are attracted to ball gowns, bell-shaped skirts, rational dress society, or Victorian costumes, the above fashion is great for every aspiring Victorian upper-class woman and young lady, no matter the occasion.

  1. To be honest, If you are a romantic you can never ever overlook the Victorian Era, be it those castles with byronic heroes or the champion of romance Mr. Darcy, with these stories one easily gets fascinated by Victorian Fashion their obsession with wigs and hats and corsets and all and If remember right the women were overtly attached to their dresses but I really think it might be fun.

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