Victorian Fashions for Women explores the British styles and clothing throughout the long reign of Queen Victoria, from the late 1830s to the first years of the 20th century. Within are a superb overview of the dresses, hats, hair styles, corsetry, undergarments shoes and boots that combined to present the prevailing styles for each decade. From those who had enough money to have day and evening wear and clothes for sports and outdoor activities, to those with limited income and wardrobes or labouring folk with little more than the clothes they stood up in.
All decades are illustrated with original photographs, adverts and contemporary magazine features from the authors’ own remarkable collections, accompanied by a knowledgeable and informative text that describes the fashions, their social history context and influences reflected in the clothes of the time. Laid out in a clear and easy-to-follow chronological order, the key features of styles, decoration and accoutrements will help family historians to date family photographs and will provide a useful resource for students and costume historians or for anyone with a love of fashion and style to enjoy.
Review number five of the day. Don’t collapse everyone; I know I’ve posted a lot of reviews today, but I stack them up until I find a day to do all the reviews. Today is the day. I woke up early and I’ve had to stay up to wait for my post to be delivered. It was parcels, of meds and sweets. I needed more inhalers. This hot weather is screwing with my asthma so badly that I’m having to use them a lot more than usual. Since I’m awake and haven’t gone back to bed yet, I need to get these reviews done.
As you may know, I enjoy studying history and every area of life has something to tell us about history and society in different time periods, whether it’s food or military actions. Clothes are quite important facets of society and dress history is a growing area. I have visited the V&A museum in the past and was fascinated by the work that went into historical clothing. I also enjoy watching videos on YouTube by dress historians and reenactors, like Morgan Donner, Nicole Rudolph, Abby Cox and Bernadette Banner. It’s an unexpected turn for my interests, I know, because generally I don’t have much interest in clothes, beyond my swimming costumes and fancy underwear. It’s all about comfort for me.
Honestly, upper- and middle-class Victorian clothes look really uncomfortable! Heavy, fussy, and over-decorated. The figure was changed by adding padding and frames, rather than changing the body. Over seventy years fashions and figure changed in a variety of ways, from materials used to the type underwear worn. It really is quite interesting. This book is definitely focused on the dress of middle and upper-class women, because it is those women who could afford the clothes in fashion plates and fashion magazines. The development of fashion magazines and the production of paper patterns in magazines is also mentioned; I have quite a few modern patterns from magazines so the early history of these useful items is interesting to me. It shows that women were making their own fashionable clothes and using the new mechanical sewing machines that were starting to become available to the home sewer. It shows that high fashion was available to everyone if they had the money for material and time to sew.
I would have liked more information on working class clothing and fashions, which were covered only briefly, but I understand the limitations given the information available and the remaining material culture. The writing got a little sludgy at times but wasn’t bad.