Monday, October 26, 2009

Victoriana

Young Victoria

I find it interesting that many of the issues around now, that seem so new and current, were issues in the previous century and even the one before that. Take for example, fast fashion. We take it as a sign of the times, but fast fashion was shaking up the fashion world long before designers rushed to complete seasonal collections. Perhaps that's why I'm so drawn to the Victorian at the moment. Click the Read More! link to find out more about Victorian Fashion.

The Victorian era was named after Queen Victoria of England who reigned from 1837 to 1901. In the early part of the Victorian era, fashions lasted about a decade, but as communication and production were sped up, fashions soon lasted only a year or two. Before 1851, all clothes were entirely made by hand, making clothes expensive. Only the rich could afford to have a large wardrobe. But in 1851, the sewing machine was invented. Clothing was able to be made quicker and cheaper. Department stores spread. Ready made clothing was available in stores by the end of the century at prices the masses could afford. Of course, the wealthy still had their clothes custom made.

Since dresses were expensive, many of the excessive layers we associate with the time were designed to protect the dress. Undersleaves, camisoles, and attached shields protected dresses from sweat stains. Ruffles were attached to hems to pick up the worst of the dirt and mud from the streets. The ruffles could then be replaced. A plain petticoat was worn to protect skirts from a hoop skirt, with a fancier petticoat worn over for when the skirt bunched up.

Because dresses were so expensive, a woman did what she could to protect them. Decorative undersleeves could be slipped under the dress sleeve to just above the elbow to protect hems. Fancier gowns which didn't allow for a camisole, had shields sewn into the bodice to protect the material from perspiration stains. Ruffles were sewn into the hems of outdoor dresses. Even with the hem of the dress in front, they fell about 1/8th of an inch below the hem in back. The ruffle picked up the worst of the mud and dirt from the street, and could be replaced much easier than the whole skirt.

The wealthy, on the other hand, didn't have as many qualms about replacing their frocks. In 1858 Charles Worth made a collection of designs that weren't commissioned by an particular patron. He presented his collection on live models, and then people bought is designs. Until that time, fashion details and changes were suggested by the customers. He was a big hit.


Disposable fashion was also popular with the wealthy. Lovly dresses made from fragile materials were made, intended to be used only once or twice and then tossed. Excessive trims and decorations were used on dresses, which was also quite wasteful. Then as today, conspicous consumption and waste were seen as marks of great wealth and status. Yes, those wealthy Victorians were pimpin'.

It seems fitting the Victorian period is the start of the modern world, at least in my mind. Perhaps that's also why the steam punk style seems to be becoming increasingly popular.

Young Victoria2

This dress was inspired by the Victorian Period and lolita dress. It's actually two pieces: an overdress and an underskirt.

Young Victoria Back

The underskirt has three rows of ruffles down the back, but only one ruffle in the front along the hem. I do have enough fabric left to make another of these for my shop, but it seems I won't add anything to the shop until the end of the semester. If you'd really like this dress though custom made to your size, just send me an e-mail, comment, or message.

References and Further Reading (& looking):

Dressing the Victorian Woman

Fashion Era.com: Early Victorian Costume History

Victorian Fashion

Long live Queen Victoria,

Ivy Frozen

2 comments:

BeesKnees said...

Wow, did you completely draft the pattern for that yourself? It's lovely.
I can't get away with wearing lolita type dresses - I already look pretty young for my age and when I wear something like that I look like I'm 12 - which I guess is kind of the point lol.

☮My Socks ☮Never Match☮ said...

WOW! Ur whole outfit is just amazing! lol. Super super pretty :D