The era ruled by Queen Victoria of Britain is referred to as the Victorian era. It lasted roughly from the 1830s through the 1890s. Tremendous changes took place in fashion, style, fashion technology, and the methods of distribution. It was a period of technological advancement. There was the mass production of sewing machines in the 1850s. Synthetic dyes were also introduced in the market. These factors resulted in the production of various types of clothes faster and cheaper. Unlike men’s clothing, Victorian women’s clothing underwent massive changes in this era. Fashion mostly changed over the decades. So Victorian fashion is often discussed based on the decades. In this era, social class was highly defined. The outfit of each kind of person was unique and distinctive.
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Victorian Women’s Fashion
In the Victorian Era, women could not help their families in business. They had to stay at home. Their roles were somewhat more defined than before. Victorian women’s fashion expressed their position in society. There was a difference in the use of their undergarments. Upper-class women did not need to work. So they often wore a tightly laced corset over a bodice or chemisette, and along with an embroidered skirt. The petticoats used to have multiple layers. Middle-class women had similar fashion but with fewer decorations. The dresses were cumbersome due to having many layers. They were very uncomfortable. It was challenging for women to move freely in these outfits. However, these multiple layers and the fabric used represented wealth. Victorian women also wore gowns. These gowns have popularity even today.
Victorian Era Women’s Gowns
Initially, in the 1840s and 1850s, women wore gowns that were narrow and had sloping shoulders. These gowns also had low but pointed waists and bell-shaped skirts. Knee-length corsets and petticoats with multiple layers were worn under the dress. Later the size of the skirts gradually expanded. So pantalettes and crinoline were used instead of petticoats and chemise at that time as pantalettes were more suited to this new change. The gown wore by Victorian women during the day had a solid bodice. The day gowns had pagoda sleeves and a high neckline. These necklines often had either lace or tatted collar on them. The evening gowns gave the Victorian women some liberty of bearing the shoulders and upper part of the chest. These gowns had short sleeves and a low neckline. Shawl and opera-length gloves were used for these parts of the body. Sometimes a 3 to 6-inch low lace flounce was sewn on the neckline. The lace was draped with a number of horizontal bands of fabric pleats. This was the gowning style of upper and middle-class women. Soon shawls also became a part of the Victorian costume. The front of the skirts became flat by 1860.
In the 1870s, tea-gowns came into fashion for casual indoor get-togethers. By 1867 Bustles was used to hold the skirts up instead of using crinoline. The sewing machine was invented in the late 18th century, which allowed women to wear sewn clothes. The use of machines brought about a lot of changes in clothing fashion. Here you will be able to know about some main Victorian gowns.
Later, Edwardian fashion followed the trends of Victorian gowns. You can check this article if you are interested in Edwardian Dresses.
Victorian Wedding Gown
Wedding gowns were still there before the Victorian era, but it reached a new height in this era. The white wedding gown, which is most common and popular in western culture, has its root in the Victorian era. Back then, wedding gowns were relaxed and comfortable with a romantic feel. According to most historians, the white wedding gown was made famous by Queen Victoria herself, who married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1840, about 175 years ago. At that time, red and other bright-colored gowns were trendy among the brides to give the wedding a colorful look. But the young queen broke the tradition. She chose white as the gown color, but many members of the court could not approve the idea. They were bewildered when the queen decided to wear a simple orange blossom wreath with the gown instead of the royal crown. Queen Victoria was not the first queen to wear a white wedding gown, but she is given credit to make it famous.
The white color represented purity and simplicity. But it is believed that Queen Victoria had some more reasons to choose this color. The gown was only made of British-made materials. Thus she supported and promoted the British culture and economy. The gown was trimmed with handmade Honiton lace, originated from the small village of Beer, to keep the decreasing fame of the lace industry. She chose white so that the lace makers’ artistry can be depicted in the best way possible. This increased the demand for lace works on clothes. Lace makers across England were delighted to see the sudden need for their work.
Another possible theory behind choosing white is to marry the man of her love as a simple woman but not as a ruler. According to some historians, white was chosen not to express purity but to represent the status. At that, there was not any laundry or dry cleaners. It was expensive to maintain a white outfit. So the lower class and middle-class women could not wear anything white. At their wedding, they would wear the dresses they already have. Only some rich bride would wear a white wedding gown as a symbol of class and to express that she could afford to get the dress cleaned. When synthetic fibers became easily available and cheaper than satin the lower class people could afford the white wedding gown
The white Victorian wedding gown, which gained popularity in the Victorian era, is still famous. It has now become a mandatory fashion in western weddings. Though the design and style may have changed over the years, it’s popularity did not decrease.
Here’s a complete guide about Victorian wedding dresses!
Victorian Princess Gowns
In 1866 a new gown called the princess gown was introduced, which brought some changes in the gowning style. It was a one-piece gown and had several jointed panels which were fitted from shoulder to hem. In the later years of the era, this gown became slimmer and better fitting.
Victorian Tea Gowns
Tea gowns were first introduced in 1878. Not all gowns could be worn for an afternoon tea party that could include a wide range of guests of both genders beyond family and close friends. This idea and belief gave rise to tea gowns. They had characteristics of the interior gowns of the 1860s to mid-1870s. Tea gowns had high necklines, back trains, and long sleeves. They were mostly made of woolen fabrics and had nice patch pockets. The cut of the tea gown was similar to earlier styles of interior gowns, especially the princess cut. These gowns had a looser fit slightly. Often the dress matched with the decoration of her parlor room. These gowns resembled the bedroom robes. In the bustle era, the tea gown took the bustle shape. The lighter fabrics, delicate details, and the looseness of the gown made women quite inviting to their lovers.
Check out this article about Complete Victorian and Edwardian tea dress guide!
Victorian women used to wear nightgowns before going to bed at night. These gowns were mostly white. Some light-colored gowns were also available. Usually, they were not that much decorated with laces. They were made of light cotton for summer nights and heavy cotton flannel for cold winter nights. They were not tight-fitting but loose-fitting for sleeping comfortably at night. The upper-class women also wore similar nightgowns but made of expensive fabric and often had some laces added to the gowns.
Victorian Ball Gowns
e women of upper societies used to wear an evening gown at parties or balls. These evening gowns were popularly known as ball gowns. Usually, the Victorian gowns were almost always made in two colors. Vivid colors such as bright, vibrant red, apple green, purple, peacock blue, royal blue, sea green, mandarin were used alone or in combination. The color of ball gowns had softer hues. These gowns were extravagantly trimmed in contrast fabrics and were very delicate.
By 1870, ball gowns had a train which was also found in day dress. By the 1880s, women’s fashion was completely different as compared to the past. The cuirasses bodice reached up to the length of the thighs. It was like a corset, but both front and back reached well below the hips.
In 1883 a new style of bustle was introduced, which was larger than before. It had less drapery compared to the earlier and also had a slimmer fitted princess bodice having a flatter front. Sleeves had a slight leg of the mutton outline by 1889. Thus the Victorian gown fashion had a massive transformation in the Victorian era.
Check this complete guide about victorian ballgowns!
Victorian Gowns Sale
Though the origin of the Victorian gowns was in the Victorian era, their popularity remains till today. As mentioned before, the white wedding gowns that are commonly worn by western women in their wedding date back to the Victorian era. Considering the popularity of Victorian gowns, they are still prepared with a touch of modern fashion. Modern Victorian gowns have undergone massive modifications, although the basics more or less remain the same. Today’s young ladies consider these gowns as an expression of personality. They prefer to wear these gowns at various fancy parties as well as costume parties. Keeping this demand in mind, many famous textile brands have their Victorian gown outfits. The online market is not lagging. You can also buy these gowns online easily in different sizes and colors.
The Victorian era is famous for many things. Fashion is one of them. Queen Victoria herself started some fashion and styles. The boost of the textile industry and technology in this era led to the invention of different outfits. Unlike men’s fashion, the tone of Victorian women changed drastically over the decades. Gowns held a significant portion of the Victorian women’s wardrobe. They had different types of gowns for other occasions. The basic outline of these gowns was more or less the same. They were commonly named after their use. The fashion of this era, especially the gowns, is still praised by today’s women. If you want, you can buy a Victorian gown to feel the vibe of Victorian fashion.