Friday, October 24, 2008

Mid to Late Victorian Fashions - 1860 - 1901

After 1860 there were 3 big changes in Fashion: The invention of the sewing machine, Synthetic dyes would allow more intense colors and that the crinolines shirt flattened in the front and moved and softer towards the back. Charles Worth thought the crinoline skirt unattractive. He is associated with a manipulation of this style resulting the shape soon changed to a new trained, softer bustled version, which only the really rich found practical.
1870s fashion in European and European-influenced clothing is characterized by a gradual return to a narrow silhouette after the full-skirted fashions of the 1850s and 1860s.

By 1870, fullness in the skirt had moved to the rear, where elaborate draping was held in place by tapes and supported by a bustle. This fashion required an underskirt, which was heavily trimmed with pleats, rouching, and frills. This fashion was short-lived (though the bustle would return again in the mid-1880s), and was succeeded by a tight-fitting silhouette with fullness as low as the knees: the cuirass bodice, a form-fitting, long-waisted, boned bodice that reached below the hips, and the princess sheath dress.
Daytime dresses had high necklines that were either closed, squared, or V-shaped. Sleeves of day dresses were narrow throughout the period, with a tendency to flare slightly at the wrist early on. Women often draped overskirts to produce an apronlike effect from the front.
Evening dresses had low necklines and very short, off-the-shoulder sleeves, and were worn with short (later mid-length) gloves. Other characteristic fashions included a velvet ribbon tied high around the neck and trailing behind for evening (the origin of the modern choker necklace).
1880- As in the previous decade, emphasis remained on the back of the skirt, with fullness gradually rising from behind the knees to just below the waist. The fullness over the buttocks was balanced by a fuller, lower bosom, achieved by rigid corseting, creating an S-shaped silhouette.
Skirts were looped, draped, or tied up in various ways, and worn over matching or contrasting underskirts. The polonaise was a revival style based on a fashion of the 1780s, with a fitted, cutaway overdress caught up and draped over an underskirt. Long, jacket-like fitted bodices called basques were also popular for daywear.
Evening gowns were sleeveless and low-necked (except for matrons), and were worn with long over the elbow or shoulder length gloves of fine kid leather or suede.
Choker necklaces and jeweled collars were fashionable under the influence of Alexandra, Princess of Wales, who wore this fashion to disguise a scar on her neck.
Fashionable women's clothing styles shed some of the extravagances of previous decades (so that skirts were neither crinolined as in the 1850s, nor protrudingly bustled in back as in the late 1860s and mid-1880s, nor tight as in the late 1870s), but corseting continued unmitigated, or even slightly increased in severity. Early 1890s dresses consisted of a tight bodice with the skirt gathered at the waist and falling more naturally over the hips and undergarments than in previous years.

The mid 1890s introduced leg o'mutton sleeves, which grew in size each year until they disappeared in about 1896. During the same period of the mid '90s, skirts took on an A-line silhouette that was almost bell-like. The late 1890s returned to the tighter sleeves often with small puffs or ruffles capping the shoulder but fitted to the wrist. Skirts took on a trumpet shape, fitting more closely over the hip and flaring just above the knee. Corsets in the 1890s helped define the hourglass figure as immortalized by artist Charles Dana Gibson. In the very late 1890s the corset elongated, giving the women a slight S-curve silhouette that would be popular well into the Edwardian era.

Michelle Artist's Workshop
Thnx to Wikipedia and Washington University.

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