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Dating victorian costume

High fastening and tight fitting frock coats were also very fashionable; though a new style called the sack coat (a thigh-length, loosely fitted jacket) became popular.

The bowler hat was invented around 1850, but was generally seen as a working class hat, while top-hats were favoured by the upper classes.

They also wore tight trousers and waistcoats, with high upstanding collars and neckties tied around them. Tiered cape-jackets were fashionable, as were paisley patterned shawls.

Deep bonnets were worn and hair was swept into buns or side coils from a centre parting.

Hair was worn high on top of the head, in tight curls.

Hats were small or wide with lots of trimming, but generally worn squarely on top of the head.

Neckties were either the knotted 'four in hand', or versions of the bow-tie tied around the collar.

In the early part of the decade, women wore tight bodices with high collars and narrow sleeves, much as they had done in the previous decade.

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Paisley or crochet shawls were fashionable accessories, as were linen caps with lace frills for indoor wear, and large bonnets for outdoors. Very fashionable men sported low, tightly cinched waists, with rounded chests and flared frock-coats that gave them a rather hour-glass figure inspired by Prince Albert. In the 1850s, women's skirts were domed and bell-shaped, supported by crinoline petticoats. Long bloomers and pantaloons trimmed with lace were popular.At the beginning of the decade the emphasis was at the back of the skirt, featuring ruching, flouncing, and embellishments such as bows and thick, rich fabrics and trims.The middle of the decade saw a brief revival of the bustle, which was so exaggerated that the derriere protruded horizontally from the small of the back. Hair was worn in tight, close curls on the top of the head.The waist was lower in the 1870s than the 1860s, with an elongated and tight bodice and a flat fronted skirt. Hair was dressed high at the back with complicated twists and rolls, falling to the shoulders, adorned with ribbons, bands and decorative combs.Hats were very small and tilted forward to the forehead.Later in the decade wider brimmed 'picture hats' were also worn, though still tilted forwards.Coats and jackets were semi-fitted and thigh-length.1860s women's dress featured tight bodices with high necks and buttoned fronts.White lace was popular for collars and cuffs, as were low sloping shoulders that flared out into wide sleeves.From about 1893 however, sleeves started expanding into a leg-of-mutton shape, which was tight at the lower arm and puffed out at the upper arm.Wide shoulders were fashionable and horizontal decoration on the bodice further exaggerated the line. Masculine styles and tailoring were increasingly popular, and women sometimes sported a shirt collar and tie, particularly when playing golf or out walking.


  1. Dating old photographs by analysing fashion garments, hats, jewellery and accessories. Hints and tips on analyzing costume from pictures.

  2. My favorite pantelets are shown here dating from the 1870's, they are made of cotton lawn a filmy, light-weight material that feels a bit like wearing a cloud, and decorated. 1890's Tea Gown. In the Victorian era, the term "dress" technically denoted a two-piece ensemble, in which the bodice was separate from the skirt.

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