Women's Fashion and Etiquette
During the Victorian Era
The dresses of the upper classes were very colorful and lavish. Women of lower classes wore dresses that were plain in terms of looks but the structure of the dress was usually the same.
The waistlines of these dresses were often higher than the natural waistline and were achieved through the use of corsets. Young women would often try to have a waist what corresponded with their age. An eighteen-year-old would try for a waist of eighteen or seventeen inches.
The skirts were supported by several layers of petticoats and steel hoops. The style of skirt changed often during this period. During the early parts of the era the skirts were fuller and bell shaped. As time progressed the skirts began to become slimmer and include a bustle.
Dresses worn during the day were slightly different than those worn for evening activities. These dresses had longer sleeves than those that were worn to a ball or to the theater. Often times the dresses would be tamer in terms of accessories and colors.
Dresses worn to balls or to the theater were much more lavish than those worn during the day. Short, puffy, sleeves and long gloves were staples of a typical evening dress. Sleeves often rested below the shoulders and the necklines were deeper than that of a day dress. Skirts were larger and corsets were pulled slightly tighter.
Hair and Accessories
When walking in the streets or in a public space a woman's hands were to be covered with a pair of gloves. When wearing a short sleeve dress the gloves often went up past the elbow.
Women were taught to always curtsy when introduced to someone and to never turn their backs during conversation. They often hid their emotions during conversation and would always be polite, even if annoyed. They were taught to converse well and be socially adept. Women were never to be alone with a man unless the two were married.
Grooming was of the utmost importance. A woman never came to breakfast in pajamas and always kept her hair out of her face. Women were expected to never wear too much make up or perfume; little to none was preferred.
The main reason for such strict etiquette was to increase a woman's marriageability. A woman with exceptional manners and poise were considered to be the most desired in society.
Nunn, Joan. "Victorian Women's Fashion, 1850-1900: Dress Bodies, Jackets, and Blouses." The Victorian Web. Storyspace. 13 Mar. 2011. Web. 11 Mar. 2015
Price, Praxton. "Victorian Dress an Victorian Style Clothing." Victorian Children. Wordpress. 8 Jun. 2013. Web. 13 Mar. 2015
S, Angel. "Victorian Era Grief." All Thing Victorian. Network Solutions. N.D. Web. 13 Mar. 2015
"Victorian Etiquette." Elegant Woman. Site Build It. 13 Mar. 2015. Web. 17 Mar. 2015