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Women's Victorian Fashion Illustrations

Updated on December 19, 2012

Fashion Illustrations of Women from the Victorian Era

Fashion art has always been a fascination of mine, as is all art and art forms. Especially compelling and interesting are fashion illustrations from the past, and in this article we'll look at women's fashion illustrations from the Victorian era.

Even if you're not sure about the period of time represented by what is called the Victorian era, that won't keep you from recognizing and identifying the women's' apparel from this period in history. It's very attractive and familiar once you see it for what it is, and the illustrations are fantastic, as you'll see below.

A secondary element related to fashion illustrations from the period is the accompanying décor of rooms and the furniture that populated them. To me this is just as interesting as the fashion illustrations themselves, as they go and belong together.

Some of the illustrations included are black and white; others in color; and still others a combination of black and white and color.

The colors from that period are vibrant if not flashy, as they mirrored the times the illustrations were done in. Even so, they are beautiful works of are giving us a snapshot in history of how women dressed. That's never a boring subject. Just ask one and see!

Victorian Fashion Illustration of Woman in Private Room

While the people of the Victorian times, even the wealthy, didn't have near what even many of the poor in our society have today (amenities), there is one thing the women of that time did have, and that was a private place to get ready for whatever the day would bring.

That meant, as this terrific illustration shows, a place for getting dressed and putting on accessories and makeup.

This room shows what a fairly typical woman of the higher class would have in regard to a place to make herself up.

As mentioned above, this is a good example of how illustrators include the décor of the day in their fashion illustrations at time. It's fantastic, and those drapes, mirror and what appears to be lace on the table are fantastic, as is the chair.

Did you also notice the carpeting, candelabra and table the flowers are sitting on. What an amazing picture of the types of items used to decorate a woman's room.


Fashion Illustrations of Women of Higher Means

This group of ladies and their fashion reflect women of higher means in my estimation, as it goes a step or two beyond the quality of the dress worn by the woman above.

Having said that, it also reminds me of fashion shows today where it's unlikely you'll see many women actually wearing some of the outrageous and gawdy outfits displayed on the runway. I think this could be a nod towards that type of experience with these dresses as well.

Now women would have worn these to very special events, but for everyday use it's highly unlikely.

What's also interesting is the Asian or Middle Eastern fashion of the woman on the right. That's very different for the period.

As for the other two outfits, they are still wonderful illustrations that do reveal what was worn at high-fashion events of that day. Those puffy sleeves sure make a statement, and would I think in any time in history.


Victorian Women Out for a Walk

Next we have what I think if more realistic as to everyday fashion of women of means in the Victorian era. They are stylish and pretty, and the accessories, including the hats are very cute and appropriate for that time in history.

Notice how they're more tight to the body than the extravagant gowns worn by the ladies above.

One of my favorite things is the hats and accessories women work and carried then. These are terrific. I'm glad the woman on the right was drawn with a side view so it could be seen more clearly. And those umbrellas are wonderful, as you can see from the open umbrella carried by the woman on the left.

There is sure a compelling beauty of the fashion worn in those days, as the streamlined tops and slightly puffy and widening bottom of the dresses reveal.


Group of Victorian Women in Social Setting

Here is an example of Victorian fashion that is illustrated using color and black and white, or I suppose more accurately - tan and white.

As a work of art I really like this style, with some parts of the dresses blending in with the color of the surrounding walls in the room.

It's very effective in highlighting what must have surely been the part of their clothing that was trying to be marketed. Note the bows on the two ladies on each end of the picture to see what I mean.

The one on the far left looks a little odd with the mostly green and red bow, seeming to somewhat clash with the rest of the illustration. It makes me wonder if it was added later.

What's amazing about this illustration is the surrounding furniture and items used to decorate the room. The most obvious is the fixture right to the front left with the glass fish bowl on top.

The mirror, painting and chair back in the rear all give a glimpse into a fascinating historical period. Like was mentioned, sometimes the furnishings and décor are a compelling as the fashion. It just can't be separated.


Black and White Illustration of Victorian Women

Finally there is another amazing illustration displaying women's fashion from the Victorian era. This time one that is black and white, which to me is sometimes preferable because it showcases the detail better than color pictures. You can easily see that here in contrast to the above illustration.

The above illustration has great detail, specifically with the woman on the right, but it falls short, overall, of the amazing detail of the dresses these ladies are wearing.

I'm not 100 percent sure, but the ladies below seem to be a little bit younger than the women above, which could be the reason they seem to be wearing dresses that are a little narrower and symmetrical than those above. Since I'm not familiar enough with those fashion nuances of the Victorian era, it's not a surety that it's the reasoning behind the slight difference in looks.

With the exception, again, of the woman on the right above, the dresses below are all also a little lower on the shoulders and front than the women above, suggesting a possible age difference. Either way they all look fantastic and are a terrific example of the way women dressed back then.

women's victorian fashion
women's victorian fashion | Source

Illustrated Women's Fashion from the Victorian Era

Not only was the fashion from Victorian times gorgeous and unique, but the art illustrating the dresses was also fantastic.

It's great that the medium used for women's fashion in those days - as far as marketing goes - was done primarily through illustrating the dresses and accessories. That has left us a wonderful collection of images which help us to imagine and know how the people that could afford it from that period of time dressed and lived.


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