A Coal Scuttle was a
fashionable Victorian bonnet style piece of large headwear. It was shaped like a coal scuttle of
Queen Victoria wore
widow’s weeds until 1901.
The Cage Crinoline or Artificial
Crinoline was invented in 1856.
An American called
W. S. Thomson Patented the Metal Cage Crinoline.
is French for
horsehair so the word crinoline suggesting a crin lining was used for any
that was stiffened to give shaped foundation. Strip hem linings and a sleeve
head are just two examples where crin was used. Later by 1850 the word crinoline
began to mean the whole of the beehive shaped skirt. It was then only another
step to call the later artificial or cage hooped support frame petticoats after
for mourning. Crape (always spelt with an ‘a’ to indicate mourning
crape) was the most used fabric for mourning clothes. Crape
was dull looking silk gauze like a crimped and stiff textured material
and mostly dyed the deepest of blacks, although white crape was used for
the widow's cap. Black was the chief mourning colour in the
immediate months after a death for deepest mourning.
In the Victorian era
a widow would mourn for two and a half
years, with the first year and a day in full mourning. During that time
pieces of the crape covered just about all of a garment at deepest mourning, but
the crape was partially removed to reach the period of secondary mourning which
lasted nine months. After that the crape was defunct and a widow could
wear fancier lusher fabrics or fabric trims made from black velvets and silk and
have them adorned with jet trimming, lace, fringe and ribbons. In the
final six months a period called half mourning began. Ordinary clothes
could be worn in acceptable subdued shades of grey, white or purple, violet,
pansy, heliotrope, soft mauves and of course black.
were called engageantes. Woman could
emphasize modesty by wearing freshly laundered detachable white collars and
false undersleeves. These were often made of delicate
whitework and gave an air of refinement and daintiness.
They were both
forms of stiffened supports for the rear of skirts. By 1869 the flounce frilled horsehair
tournure dress improver or bustle was the undergarment to own to
achieve the fashionable silhouette of the day.
The American Mrs. Amelia
Bloomer denounced the skirt style that needed so many petticoats, suggesting a
bifurcated garment as a solution. Six petticoats at least were
needed to hold the wide full skirts out. The petticoats used under
one skirt could weigh as much as 14 pounds, so clothes were
uncomfortably hot and heavy in summer.
Mrs. Amelia Jenks Bloomer (1818-1894), caused quite a stir when she
wrote an article for her feminist publication 'The Lily'. She
tried to promote the idea of women abandoning their petticoats for a bi-furcated
garment later known as the bloomer fashion. She suggested that woman
would find trousers like those worn by Turkish women easier to wear than
their voluminous heavy skirts. The baggy bloomer trousers she
liked reached to the ankle, were frill cuffed and worn with a simple
knee length skirt and bodice. She thought it a sensible and hygienic
option to the boned fashion bodices and long weighty skirts of the time.
The baggy trouser outfit was worn by a minority, including the
Rational Dress Reform Society. It never gained popularity until after
Mrs. Bloomer's death. Mrs. Bloomer abandoned trousers in 1857 when she
admitted she found the cage crinoline comfortable compared to the weight
of petticoats. A year after her death in 1895 some women accepted a form
of the bloomer fashion style. The trousers now called bloomers, were
adopted as suitable cycling wear for ladies.
Victoria loved going to Scotland and enjoyed wearing tartan checked
materials. This soon transferred into everyday fashion with tartan
silks being woven as well as traditional tartan woollen materials.
The Great Exhibition of 1851 was the first International Exhibition ever held.
Promoted by Prince Albert it was intended to help understanding and brotherhood
between nations and so aid peace. Set in Hyde Park it was a huge three-tiered
glass building and enclosed full-grown elm trees. Visitors were genuinely interested in the exhibits as many gave an
opportunity to see exhibits that were only ever likely to be seen on an
expensive foreign tour.
was a short coat often banded with velvet or fur trim.
It was really just like a fitted paletot and it is French for passed over.
So it was a coat that was passed over and worn on top of other clothes.
discovered aniline dyes in 1856. He did some experiments and discovered Mauveine an extract from coal
tar. Mauveine was a bright purple dye synthesized under laboratory conditions
and it revolutionized the textile industry. Perkin made a fortune from his
discovery of aniline dyes.
set up a Paris fashion house at 7 Rue de la Paix a
then unfashionable Paris district. In 1858 he made a collection of
clothes that were unsolicited designs. He showed the clothes on
live models and when people bought his original designs he became a
leading fashion design couturier of the Victorian era. Until that
time fashion details and changes were suggested by the customers.
The House of Worth became a leader of ideas for the next 30 years.
The tailor-made suit was a simple style that filtered down from the
upper classes to the working classes. Tailor made costumes were easily mass
produced, were warm, strong and hard wearing. They were an ideal garment for the
new woman who wanted to be taken more seriously, have better education and gain
the vote. They suited women who were opting to work in department stores or as
office workers as stenographers (typists) and as telephonists.
The Victorian bustle was also sometimes known as the Grecian bend.
It was first in fashion between 1870 and
1875. A typical tailor made garment of the late
Victorian era very similar in line to the cycling costume.
1884 Dr. Gustav
Jaeger, a German professor of Zoology and Physiology at the University of Stuttgart developed 'scientific' theories about
the use of hygienic dress and of wearing wool, next to the body. He published his essays on health culture as Dr.
Jaeger's Sanitary Woollen System. He wanted everyone to use wool fibres throughout the house right down to the bed sheets.
He thought pure animal fibres would prevent the retention of noxious exhalations of the body.
The Married Woman's
Property Act gave women rights to own her own property. Previously her property,
frequently inherited from her family, belonged to her husband on marriage. She
became the chattel of the man. During this era if a wife separated from her
husband she had no rights of access to see her children. A divorced woman had no
chance of acceptance in society again.
Worth's overskirt really caught on in England and contrasting
underskirts and gown linings were all revealed as the over top skirt was
divided or turned back. Other top skirts were called aprons. These apron
style tablier and they were also draped making the wearer look like a
piece of elaborate upholstery.
dress was a
protest against the contemporary fashion for bustles in various forms and restrictive
corsets. Only a very small section of the community ever wore it initially, but
it did spread to middle class intellectuals, to artistic and literary people. Aesthetic
dress was made of wool or Liberty silk or velvet fabrics.
It was cut looser and was unstructured
in the style of medieval or Renaissance garments with larger sleeves. The dress appeared loose compared with figure hugging fashion garments of the
era. The typical aesthetic lady would have red flowing hair often henna
enhanced, a pale face, green eyes and wore heelless shoes.
clothing could be bought at Arthur Liberty's shop in London. Liberty's
still exists today and is known for luxury products.
Oscar Wilde was
famously linked with the Aesthetic movement. He liked to
wear a velvet jacket, flowing tie, a wide-awake hat and in the early days of the movement often
wore much ridiculed breeches. He knew the value of speaking through
appearance as he made satirical references to this in his plays and in a lecture on
dress. He believed that flowing robes of classical lines and practical Turkish
style trousers would be the better garb for both sexes.
A bathing machine was a
room on wheels dragged into the sea by horse giving the privacy of
indoor bathing. In the Victorian age no lady would have considered bathing without its
protection. By Edwardian times ladies took to bathing from the beach and
even walking about in their bathing costumes. By 1901 mixed bathing was
Throughout the century, the walk about the town and
particularly along the seafront, was an essential part of the life of a
resort. Everyone came out to see and be seen. The rich
in their carriages, or on their horses and later in their motors. The rest
on their feet, all dressed in their finest, but with the formal etiquette of
the town now relaxed. The highlight of the seaside day visit was not morning
bathing or sitting on the beach, but the afternoon promenade.
'Uglies' were a straw
hat fashion of bonnets with brims with projecting frames of cane covered
in silk. They were used to shield a woman's
face from the sun. As sunbathing did not become fashionable until the
1920s ladies used hats
and parasols to protect their white skin from the sun's harmful rays.
The metal zip was invented in 1893.
the leg of mutton sleeves swelled to gigantic proportions and were also used on décolleté
evening dresses. The size of the sleeves was highlighted by the comparison of
the tiny sashed or belted waist against the simple gored skirt that flared out
all round to balance the massive sleeve heads.
The Casaque was a deep close fitting basque jacket that
buttoned to the neck. The item allowed for the cut of the bustles and pads of
the era and the garments ranged from high hip to three quarter length.
A Paletot was a short jacket with
set in sleeves and the Mantelet was a kind of half shawl. All the items had
allowed for the cut of the bustles and pads of the era and the garments ranged
from high hip to three quarter length.
as cloth called gabardine in 1879. He then began
making all types of gabardine clothes for field sports and items that are
today country classics. He opened a shop in London in 1891 and then the
firm spread to Paris, Berlin and New York. In its original form the trench coat was part of First World War airmen's
military uniform. Today it is a classic garment.
Lord Raglan lost an arm in the Crimean War. To make dressing easier his tailor made a
short coat with a simple diagonal sleeve seam setting that extended from the
neck to the underarm. It allowed much more mobility for Lord Raglan and so was called after him.
Butterick and later
the McCall's Pattern
Company, helped make home dressmaking more successful by the introduction of
paper patterns by.
of the period include the Houses of Worth, Redfern, Paquin, Lucile, Fortuny, Doucet, Callot Soeurs, and Poiret.
Workshops where feathers were dyed and made
into arrangements were called plumassiers.
designer touch sometimes used on the shoulders of a garment is a
decorative epaulet called a Mancheron. The Mancheron can be a
cascade of passementerie and jet or other bead fringe in the Spanish Matador
Worth Founded the First Chambre Syndicale in 1868. The
original was called Chambre Syndicale De La
Confection Et De La Couture Pour Dames Et Fillettes. The initial purpose was
intended to stop couture designs being copied. The organization has
progressed and changed its name with the times in an effort to promote French
fashion and the French Haute Couture style.
Jeans history would be nothing
without Levi Strauss. Levi Strauss is credited with inventing jeans. Levi
Strauss emigrated with his family to New York in 1847. He moved to San Francisco
in the early 1850s and about 20 years later a solvent Levi
Strauss and a Nevada tailor joined forces to patent an idea the tailor had for
putting rivets on stress points of workman's waist high overalls commonly known
as jeans. Levi Strauss chose to use the stronger denim fabric and cotton duck,
putting his own name on the product. Later the duck fabric was dropped as
consumers found denim more comfortable, particularly after washing creating the
faded bloom on the indigo blue dyeing that we all love. Eventually in the 1950s people asked
for denim jeans or just as often - Levi's jeans rather than waist overalls.
Other manufacturers began to produce jeans and other brand names such as Lee
Coopers and Wranglers also became famous. Each brand is renowned for having a
From 1895 dresses and blouses often featured very
very high dog collar styles on
necklines. This style reached high to the jaw and was made popular by the then Princess Alexandra who
had a small scar on her neck.
Haute Couture is a French
phrase for high fashion. Couture means dressmaking, sewing, or
needlework and haute means elegant or high, so the two combined imply
excellent artistry with the fashioning of garments. Haute Couture began
in the Victorian era.