The Victorian era marks a great change in visual arts, particularly in Victorian clothing and fashion. Victorian fashion was mainly influenced by British culture that emerged and developed all throughout Europe in the 19th century. Fashion and clothing marked one’s social status in the Victorian society.
European Women’s Fashion
Extravagance is one of the common denominators among the Victorian women. Like architecture and flower arrangements, Victorian clothing for women had always stood out to be intricate and elaborate. Following the Victorian morals, Victorian dresses wholly covered the women’s body as they are prohibited from revealing them too much, especially in public places.
Many changes occurred in the women clothing style, as the Victorian era happened to be the transitional period between feudalism to industrial capitalism. The introduction of sewing machines to the society created an impact in the fashion world as women can easily produce and reproduce their desired dresses.
In the earlier part of Victorian rule around 1840, women’s gowns were narrow with bell-shaped skirts. However, as the mid-19th century approached, a decline with the use of wide puffed sleeves and petticoats occurred as they were be replaced by the crinoline. As a class distinction, Shawls has become a part of Victorian clothing for both the upper and middle classes.
In 1867, the use of crinoline was replaced by Bustles. Later on, tea-gowns were predominant during casual gatherings at home.
As the late 19th century approached, the sewing machine was introduced in the society. This brought about a lot of changes in Victorian clothing for women. Soon enough, women had no use of crinolines and bustles. Corsets were lengthier as to emphasize the women’s bodily curves. Wearing sportswear, such as bicycling dress and tennis dress had also become trendy. As a marker of the modern era, Victorian clothing had become simpler compared to the elaborate ones during the early part of the Victorian period.
Unlike the radical changes in Victorian Fashion for women, men’s fashion was rather still. Almost stagnant as it was from the early period of the Victorian era, men’s clothing includes plain stove-pipe pants matched up with dark colored garments. Such formality was needed to maintain elegance and sobriety during working hours. Victorian men needed to appear proper, disciplined, and respectable.
As a counterpart with Victorian women’s shawl, men belonging to the upper and middle classes usually wore top hats as a distinction to the bowler hats worn by the working class.
During the 1840s, men wore tight frock coats, waistcoats or vests. A slight change occurred in 1860 as men’s neckties became broader and were tied in a bow with a stickpin. Similar to the Victorian clothing for women, by 1880s, men fashion also included sportswear like blazers for various outdoor and sports-related activities.
Victorian Clothing for Children
There was no significant difference between the Victorian children clothing and those of the adults. Children almost wore the same clothes as their parents. Similarly, they were to wear clothing as to show-off the status of their family whereas children from the upper class usually wear huge and elaborate bulky clothes, while otherwise for the lower working class.
Towards the end of the Victorian era and modern period, children soon had their own designated clothing primarily because of the introduction of the sewing machine and the inevitable change of times.
Indeed, Victorian clothing was not excluded in the many changes that happened during the Victorian era.