Victorian fashion

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Victorian fashion comprises the various fashions and trends in British culture that emerged and grew in province throughout the Victorian era and the reign of Victoria, a period which would last from June 1837 to January 1901. Covering nearly two thirds of the 19th century, the 63 year reign would see numerous changes in fashion. These changes would include, but not be limited to, changes in clothing, architecture, literature, and the decorative and visual arts.

By 1907, clothing was increasingly factory-made and sold in large, fixed price department stores. Custom sewing and home sewing were still significant, but on the decline. New machinery and materials changed clothing in many ways.

The introduction of the lock-stitch sewing machine in mid-century simplified both home and boutique dressmaking, and enabled a fashion for lavish application of trim that would have been prohibitively time-consuming if done by hand. Lace machinery made lace at a fraction of the cost of the old, laborious methods.

New materials from far-flung British colonies gave rise to new types of clothing (such as rubber making gumboots and mackintoshes possible). Chemists developed new, cheap, bright dyes that displaced the old animal or vegetable dyes.

Contents

Women's Fashion

In the 1840s and 1850s, women's gowns developed narrow and sloping shoulders, low and pointed waists, and bell-shaped skirts. Corsets, a knee-length chemise, and layers of flounced petticoats were worn under the gowns. The chemise and petticoats were replaced by pantalettes and the crinoline as the size of the skirts expanded. Day dresses had a solid bodice and evening gowns had a very low neckline and were worn off the shoulder with sheer shawls and opera-length gloves.

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