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Victorian Fashion: a Middle Class Makeover

Victorian Fashion: a Middle Class Makeover

By Jamie Cantoni

Undergraduate Thesis, Western Connecticut State University, 2008

Abstract: The Victorian Era roughly denotes the period of time that Queen Victoria reigned over Britain, 1837-1901. It addition to its great length of time, the Victorian era was very complex. The era rapidly changed and developed, held many paradoxes and accomplished great expansion of wealth, power and culture. The expansion of culture can easily be understood by the fashions of the era as clothing and technology were closely entwined. The fashions of the Victorian era can be categorized into three periods: the Early Victorian 1830-1850, the Middle Victorian 1850-1870 and the Late Victorian 1870-1900. The early era denoted the change from regency fashions, shift dresses gathered in an empire waist below the breast in fabrics such as chiffon, that favored lithe figures for women and extreme tailoring and ornate accessories for men. To the fashions that would come to be known as Victorian fashions, corseted waists and full skirts for women and more generic fits with a diminution in accessories for men. The middle era was marked by the influence of middle class values and application of present technology. During the late era Victorians utilized the improvements from the middle era to create variations and embellishments on the existing fashions. As well as apply technologies from the middle era to different aspects of fashion.





Introduction: The Victorian Era roughly denotes the period of time that Queen Victoria reigned over Britain, 1837-1901. It addition to its great length of time, the Victorian era was very complex. The era rapidly changed and developed, held many paradoxes and accomplished great expansion of wealth, power and culture. The expansion of culture can easily be understood by the fashions of the era as clothing and technology were closely entwined. The fashions of the Victorian era can be categorized into three periods: the Early Victorian 1830-1850, the Middle Victorian 1850-1870 and the Late Victorian 1870-1900.

The early era denoted the change from regency fashions, shift dresses gathered in an empire waist below the breast in fabrics such as chiffon, that favored lithe figures for women and extreme tailoring and ornate accessories for men. To the fashions that would come to be known as Victorian fashions, corseted waists and full skirts for women and more generic fits with a diminution in accessories for men. The middle era was marked by the influence of middle class values and application of present technology. During the late era Victorians utilized the improvements from the middle era to create variations and embellishments on the existing fashions. As well as apply technologies from the middle era to different aspects of fashion.

Click here to read this thesis from Western Connecticut State University

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