The victorian era, in a nutshell, is characterized by modesty and frills. Lots of frills. Looking at top designers like Louis Vuitton and Alexander McQueen, these traits have been key inspiration for some of their romantique victorian fashion pieces of recent years. High necks and frilly skirts are undoubtedly staples of the trend, aiming to emulate the flamboyant fashion of the well-to-do in victorian society. In this post, we’ll be exploring the key characteristics of victorian fashion style and a bit about the history behind them.
The victorian color palette in women’s fashion was as rich as possible. Royal blue satin, sumptuous reds and graceful whites are all typical of the period. Colorful dyes and exotic materials were expensive, making them highly sought-after by the victorian upper classes. Daywear, on the other hand, was often plain. Black became a cornerstone of the period after Queen Victoria’s husband, Albert, died and she carried out the rest of her days in mourning clothes and coats were designed in an inconspicuous black.
Collars were enjoying a phase of flamboyance that they wouldn’t see again until the bold shirts of the 1970s. Collars would frequently mirror the frills found on women’s skirts, often as courageous and extravagant. At their most flamboyant, collars would drape across a woman’s shoulders, lengthening at the front and tied into a loose bow. However, at the other end of the spectrum, collars would cling to their wearer’s neck, crowned with a thin line of lace. This style made women’s necks seem longer, radiating elegance and poise.
In other instances, women’s collars were simply nonexistent. The racier designs had square-cut necklines that dipped coquettishly towards the cleavage. This range of necklines typical of the era represents the infamous victorian double standard. Women were either considered innocent and pure or the total opposite, and clothing was a huge part of deciphering between the two.
Dramatic sleeves are a big part of the victorian fashion style. Victorian sleeves were – of course – heavily frilled from the forearm down. This was also a prime time for big, puffy sleeves at the