Victorian Era Women's Fashions

Women's Fashion was Very Trendy During the 19th Century Victorian Era

Victorian fashions are comprised of the various fashion and trends in British culture that emerged and were produced throughout the reign of Queen Victoria, otherwise known as the Victorian era. Her reign and this era were from June 1837 to January 1901. Covering nearly two thirds of the 19th century, there would be many changes in fashion during these 63 years of the 19th century. Other than fashion, these changes were also noted in architecture, literature, and the decorative or visual arts.

This website primarily covers fashion changes in women's clothing for the 1880's to 1900s, although there is information included for other decades during the Victorian era.

The intro photo of a woman in a corset and illustrations in this website are from mail order catalogs in the 1800's and all of these images are in the author's personal collection. Any images 1923 or prior are in the Public Domain.

This is Why I Love Old Catalogs!

I grew up in a time where there were plenty of catalogs lying around the house. Mostly, Sears and JC Penney were the common ones but we had a few others. These were a great source of entertainment for the whole family. Little boys could see the new toys, little girls could dream of their ideal wedding dress, Dad could find that favorite tool and Mom could either dream about upgrading her appliances or trying a new fashion. Our neighbor, believe it or not, still had an outhouse and you could always find a catalog laying in there. In later years, people read the catalogs just like we have reading material in bathrooms today. In the older days, there was no toilet paper and the pages were ripped out as needed. These old catalog depictions in this site, depict times when none of us were around. You can browse through these photos wondering how you would look in these clothes or imagine how uncomfortable the people that actually wore them were! I hope you enjoy this and leave me TONS of comments.

Thank you for visiting.

A Huge Compilation of more Victorian Fashions

Victorian Fashions and Costumes from Harper's Bazar, 1867-1898 (Dover Fashion and Costumes)
Victorian Fashions and Costumes from Harper's Bazar, 1867-1898 (Dover Fashion and Costumes)

If you love Victorian fashion, you will love this compilation of designs from the mid to late 1800's.

This book not only shows the fashion, but gives detailed explanations on why they were designed the way they were.

a fascinating glimpse at this period of time.


Victorian Women's Dresses and Blouses

benjamin franklin
benjamin franklin

Benjamin Franklin - The Father of Mail Order

Benjamin Franklin has been attributed to many inventions and things that we use daily but did you know that he actually invented "mail order?"

Franklin invented the first catalog, which sold educational and scientific books. With his books, he also developed the first guarantee known to mail order. He said that the purchaser would be guaranteed a product by mail, that would be as good as if Franklin were there to give it to you himself!

It wasn't until over 100 years later that others, such as Aaron Montgomery ward developed the catalogues that we see today.

With his invention, Franklin can be credited with the hundreds of $billions that are purchased today using catalogues and mail order through online merchants. More importantly, his meager mail order catalog has resulted in a growth today, of almost 11 million jobs that are related to advertising for mail order business.

Creative Commons Photo Credit


Women's Jewelry in the Victorian Era

Although clothing was more complex and decorative, women tended to minimize jewelry in the 1800's. To compliment clothing, feminine necklaces and jeweled hair combs were worn. Their inspiration was from Greek styles.

Victorian Women's Nightgowns


Victorian Women's Aprons


You Don't Need to be on the Gold Standard to Buy from Amazon

Check out Amazon's fantastic Victorian era items!

Victorian Women's Coats


Victorian Women's Hosiery and Stockings


Victorian Women's Lingerie


Myths of the Corset

From the 1800's to early 1900s, the majority of women in Europe and in North America wore coresets. Even though they were worn, the tightness of them was not as legendary as is believed in popular culture. There really wasn't a common 17 inch waist and most were sold to women that wanted waist sizes from 18 to around 30 inches. However, most were not skinny-minnies and corsets did go up to 42 inches. Another popular myth is that numerous health issues occurred. This was not true.

Victorian Corsets and Foundations


Sewing Machines and Victorian Fashion

Sewing machines were not invented until the middle of the 19th century and this simplified dressmaking, especially for those who wanted to make them at home. The addition of much trim in that era was due to the fact that is was much easier to do with a machine. The production of lace was also increased and could be done much less costly. Therefore, the Victorian Era produced clothing designs that were simplified in earlier eras.

Victorian Trouseau and Bridal Sets


This was New Clothing?

The Victorian Era was a Boon to clothing designers. New fashions emerged that were inspired by other areas in the British Empire. New clothing boots, which contained rubber and synthetic dyes were discovered and produced, replacing the dull colors that were colored with vegetable and animals dyes.

The Gay 90's

The late Victorian decade of the 1890’s showed a simplification of clothing including less use of crinoline & bustles. Clothing was not as tight as in previous decades. The corset was still used but it was longer & gave women an “S” curve silhouette. The skirts trumpeted & fitted close to the hip, giving a wasp-waist illusion & flared out above the knees. High necks & puffed-out sleeves were becoming popular & sportswear dresses for bicycling, tennis & more flatter

Victorian Beauty Aids


Victorian Women's Hats


Victorian Women's Bathing Suits


Victorian Women's Wigs and Hair Pieces


Victorian Women's Shoes


Dewey's Invisible Dress Elevator


More by this Author

Do You Like Victorian Fashions or Did You Like This Website? 70 comments

anonymous 5 years ago

Boy I am glad I did not grow up in that era...way too much clothing to have to put on!!

victorianpassage profile image

victorianpassage 5 years ago

Enjoyed all the images you have here! Thanks for sharing them. =)

Lady Lorelei profile image

Lady Lorelei 5 years ago from Canada

Absolutely amazing. You have done a beautiful job on this trendy fashion of the olden day article. Beautiful and blessed.

anonymous 5 years ago

Wonderful lens! Fun, too. I love to look at vintage fashions from different ages. Great job here!

victorianpassage profile image

victorianpassage 5 years ago

Yes and Yes hehe. Loved the lens! I love the old time bathing suits!

ChrisDay LM profile image

ChrisDay LM 5 years ago

Nice! Lensrolled to my Victorian Era quiz.

puerdycat lm profile image

puerdycat lm 5 years ago

Lovely. like-fave-roll to my dress-design-made-simple

Beepopalula 5 years ago

Lovely fashion ! So elegant and beautiful ! Love your lens !

paperfacets profile image

paperfacets 5 years ago from La Verne, CA

Maybe No.31 the gem bustle would go with the steampunk look?

KANEsUgAr profile image

KANEsUgAr 5 years ago

Crazy fashion, those poor women were probably only comfortable while in bed.

dragonsix profile image

dragonsix 5 years ago

Wow! What a lens! This is the type of history I like, the way people lived.

Blonde Blythe profile image

Blonde Blythe 5 years ago

Wonderful lens! I really enjoyed it! :)

chezchazz profile image

chezchazz 5 years ago from New York

Great lens. Blessed on the Squid Angels Epic Back To School Bus Trip Quest. Your lens will be featured on âWing-ing it on Squidoo,â our lensography of some of the best Squidoo has to offer, as soon as the quest has been completed.

anonymous 5 years ago

I am not a big fan of the Victorian Age Fashion but really liked the way you have put together this Lens. Two Thumbs Up for the great effort!

Lindas11 profile image

Lindas11 5 years ago

What Brilliant Lens, packed full of great info. Nice one

sheriangell profile image

sheriangell 5 years ago

I really loved looking at all of the Victorian goodies you have featured here. I think it's kind of funny that the 17" waist is a bit of a myth while most corsets were between 18" - 30" 18" would be so much more comfortable than 17"! That bridal gown towards the top of the lens is lovely. Blessed by a Squid Angel today.

aesta1 profile image

aesta1 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

This is a wonderful trip to the fashion world of the Victorian women. What a well put together lens. Blessed.

flycatcherrr profile image

flycatcherrr 5 years ago

Ha, fun lens! We can all feel pretty lucky today to sit around in stretch fleece and jeans, I guess.

jimmyworldstar 5 years ago

Wow everything back then was very elaborate and complex. They didn't even have separate underwear! I could imagine it taking a long time just to get dressed and undressed. And it must've been awful on hot summer days. Is there anything about Victorian fashion for men?

Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

Kailua-KonaGirl 5 years ago from New York

I love everything Victorian and these catalog pages from the time are wonderful. *Squid Angel Blessed* and I've added your link to My Squid Angel Wings to be featured in the "Fashion & Beauty » Retro Fashions " neighborhood. In fact you are the first in this category. Well done.

CruiseReady profile image

CruiseReady 5 years ago from East Central Florida

I can't help but wonder how uncomfortable sitting while wearing a bustle must have been.

ClassyGals profile image

ClassyGals 5 years ago from Pittsburgh

I didn't like this lens, I loved it! Beautifully done. Angel Blessings**

Helene-Malmsio 5 years ago

I'll never complain about my clothes being uncomfortable again!

mariaamoroso profile image

mariaamoroso 5 years ago from Sweden

Poor girls. I wonder if they could breathe? but the pictures are awesome and the lens very very nice.

JoshK47 5 years ago

Wonderful page - thanks for sharing!

TreasuresBrenda profile image

TreasuresBrenda 5 years ago from Canada

It's always interesting to learn about what people used to wear.

anonymous 4 years ago

beautiful lens...........

Rangoon House profile image

Rangoon House 4 years ago from Australia

Just gorgeous. What wonderful information.

miaponzo 4 years ago

What a wonderful lens!!!! Blessed!

Lauriej1 profile image

Lauriej1 4 years ago

Great lens! I wish we could get away with some of these fashions today! :)

im1337mi 4 years ago

Super cool, thanks for sharing.

MrsPotts profile image

MrsPotts 4 years ago

This was a really interesting read! I love the old catalog pictures and didn't know the bustle helped support heavy fabrics. I always thought it was just a bad fashion idea. Thank you for creating a fun lens. :-)

Gypzeerose profile image

Gypzeerose 4 years ago

Really, really great lens. I love the Victorian times, one of my dreams is to spend Christmas in London, enjoying the Dickens Faires there. I learned a lot from this lens. BTW, Thanks for mentioning that the photos are public domain, - I think sometimes lensmasters use photos they should not (innocently usually) and it is good to get a little instruction about it.

Gypzeerose profile image

Gypzeerose 4 years ago

Oh and I forgot - sprinkled with angel dust for the high quality!

Lady Lorelei profile image

Lady Lorelei 4 years ago from Canada

How very different are the fashions of yesteryear. Victorian are indeed unique fashions compared with those of today. I definitely would not need the bustle lol.

anonymous 4 years ago

I felt like a Victorian lady dreaming of these wonderful fashions for myself and am glad that some pages did survive the outhouse! A delightful presentations of things that dreams were made of, adding a bit more dust here!...*

WriterJanis2 profile image

WriterJanis2 4 years ago

Gorgeous examples. Adding more fairy dust. :-)

Seasons Greetings profile image

Seasons Greetings 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

My friend who runs will enjoy this post. You would likely enjoy her site too. She loves vintage lingerie.

WhiteOak50 profile image

WhiteOak50 4 years ago

I was letting you know that I have featured this page on my: The Victorian Era lens. This is a beautifully done page so of course I had to drop off a sprinkle of "Victorian Angel Dust".

MelonyVaughan profile image

MelonyVaughan 4 years ago

Well-researched and beautifully-presented lens!

KarenCookieJar 4 years ago

I really love old fashioned clothing, neat images and information!

Rangoon House profile image

Rangoon House 4 years ago from Australia

I love Victorian fashions and love this website. I have been here before, but had to sneak another look at the exquisite detail. I especially marvel at the attention that went into undergarments and sleepwear - just devine. Blessings.

LaraineRoses profile image

LaraineRoses 4 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

I think that I was born in the wrong era. I love Victorian fashions: the dresses, lace, lace, and more lace and the hats!! beautiful!! Except for the bustle .. I never did think that was a great design. This gets an angel blessing and wish I could give it more. Ah-ha just maybe ... it will be a surprise.

Demaw profile image

Demaw 4 years ago

I like looking at the fashions but would find them very restrictive to wear.

Wedding Mom profile image

Wedding Mom 4 years ago

Great lens. Victorian fashion is so classy.

anonymous 4 years ago

I love the Victorian Trouseau and Bridal Sets!

McBub-Squidoo profile image

McBub-Squidoo 4 years ago

Thanks for let me know Benjamin Franklin is the father of mail order.

anilsaini 4 years ago

wow!!! you have done a good research...thanks for providing here

tvyps profile image

tvyps 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

@anilsaini: Thanks for the visit!

anonymous 4 years ago

Wonderful Victorian fashions. Hard to believe the prices of the items you have depicted here.

tvyps profile image

tvyps 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

@anonymous: I love old catalogs and the prices in them. It is interesting to see what things were worth then...but also, the pay was much less in contrast.

leonasharon 4 years ago

yes loved it.Thanks for sharing your knowledge

esvoytko lm profile image

esvoytko lm 4 years ago

These images are great!

tvyps profile image

tvyps 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

@esvoytko lm: Thanks for the visit!

Hypersapien2 profile image

Hypersapien2 4 years ago from U.S.

The fashions during that period look very interesting.

tvyps profile image

tvyps 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

@Hypersapien2: I love looking at old images like these! Thanks for the visit!

georgeac lm profile image

georgeac lm 4 years ago

Well well written lens, great work.

tvyps profile image

tvyps 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

@georgeac lm: Thank you for the compliment and visit!

Diva2Mom profile image

Diva2Mom 4 years ago

I love, love this lens ! I am also fascinated with the great sophistication and elegance of the Victorian Fashion. It's so classic, and there's something unique about it when it comes to making women stand out in the sense of Femininity and grace, which I truly like and appreciate so much. I would love to go back to this generation and be able to experience the pleasure of wearing these Victorian Fashions and feminine clothing and accessories. SO BEAUTIFUL, and REAL CLASSY. Fabulous lens! God bless.

tvyps profile image

tvyps 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

@Diva2Mom: I want to live in the 50's,. although I don't see myself reading the paper in my suit and tie like Ward Cleaver. ha!

Rangoon House profile image

Rangoon House 4 years ago from Australia

I have been here so many times before and am still drawn to visit again. This time I can leave blessings, which are truly due.

Ardyn25 profile image

Ardyn25 4 years ago

I'm so glad I wondered over, I love old catalogs and the Victorian Fashions.

tvyps profile image

tvyps 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

@Ardyn25: Thank you for the visits. I like them very much also!

AstroGremlin profile image

AstroGremlin 4 years ago

I really like the prices! The bustle looks like a great storage device. Oh, for the Victorian times.

Art Inspired profile image

Art Inspired 4 years ago

Wonderful write up about Victorian fashions.

Board-Game-Brooke profile image

Board-Game-Brooke 4 years ago from US/TN

I love the Victorian look, shoes especially.

tvyps profile image

tvyps 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

@Board-Game-Brooke: Thank you for visiting!

Aunt-Mollie 3 years ago

I love this dresses. But, I never understood how they took care of clothing like this without dry cleaning!

tvyps profile image

tvyps 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

@Aunt-Mollie: That is a good point...and you know that they had issues with body odor, especially with all those clothes. I see those old westerns and think that they don't have to look for him coming, they can smell him. ha! Thanks for the visit.

Meganhere profile image

Meganhere 3 years ago

Interesting lens. Glad I wasn't a woman back then.

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