In England, the Victorian Era is commonly noted as a time period between 1837 and 1901. This era is named after Queen Victoria, England’s longest ruling monarch to date. These were times of much political and social changes. In America, we were experiencing a similar era. With the coming of the Industrial Revolution, both countries experienced a wave of new inventions, such as the sewing machine and fabric loom. It also became commonplace for people to have electricity and telephones in their homes.
Clothing styles were often fancy and floral. When we think of this era, we often associate the home decorating with much frill and excess. This is quite true. Homes often had many photograph frames strewn over many end tables and on the walls. Clothing for ladies and children often featured floral weaves and lace. An era of excess, the Victorian era is remembered by such clothing styles and home decoration.
Children still wore dressing gowns until potty trained, often making it difficult to distinguish between boy and girl in old photographs. For ladies, the corset was still considered a necessary item of clothing. Corsets were designed to be laced tightly and give the appearance of a rounded and full bosom. Of course, a ladies’ waist was still desired to be a tiny as possible. There are reports of some ladies having a 19″ waist measurement. Hats, often elaborately decorated, were in style indoors and outdoors. Men still wore the white shirt with a starched collar, and neutral colored trousers. The vest was considered a necessary clothing item. Men also wore a derby or bowler hat, and sometimes carried a walking cane. Ladies often carried a walking cane, as well.
The Victorian era styles are still evident in America today. Although ladies no longer wear the corset, lacy and floral clothing is still seen. Hats for men and ladies are still worn, but most often reserved for formal occasions. Men now wear colored shirts and trousers, and men and ladies seldom carry a walking cane for style purposes. This great era of excess in clothing and home decor remains one of the most well remembered in American and English histories.
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