Fashion Friday: Victorian Dresses

Fashion in the Victorian Era

As a reader of historical romances, I most often am interested in the early Regency era and fashions with muslin dresses gathered below the bust and featuring light and airy colors (for young maidens) and bolder colors and fabrics for those married or of a “suitable age.”

However, once again, Two Nerdy History Girls has caught my interest with the image above featuring Victorian women’s fashion of 1864. The classic silhouettes, bright colors and fabrics, and low necklines seem far less stuffy than one would imagine for the time period and are, actually, very attractive. Additionally, have you taken a closer look at the hats and bonnets? Many of them remind me of what we might find on today’s royalty! I also have come to appreciate some of the more glamourous hairstyles of the Victorian age than the Regency.

This image, originally seen here, is from Godey’s Lady’s Book and Magazine. The publication was filled with all kinds of information from fashion plates and descriptions, to biographical spotlights and educational articles ranging from crafts to female etiquette and arts and more.

A better description of the publication by Accessible Archives:

The magazine was intended to entertain, inform and educate the women of America. In addition to extensive fashion descriptions and plates, the early issues included biographical sketches, articles about mineralogy, handcrafts, female costume, the dance, equestrienne procedures, health and hygiene, recipes and remedies and the like. Each issue also contained two pages of sheet music, written essentially for the pianoforte. Gradually the periodical matured into an important literary magazine containing extensive book reviews and works by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and many other celebrated 19th century authors who regularly furnished the magazine with essays, poetry and short stories. Godey’s Lady’s Book also was a vast reservoir of handsome illustrations which included hand-colored fashion plates, mezzotints, engravings, woodcuts and, ultimately, chromolithographs.

You can view the complete book of 1864 and get an idea of what women were interested in and learning about during this time period. Happy Fashion Friday!

Victorian Lady's Magazine

An example of some of the fashion ideas and templates in Godey’s Lady’s Book and Magazine (1864) via Archives.org.