Victorian Fashion compromise the various fashions and trends in British culture that emerged and developed in the United Kingdom and the British Empire throughout the Victorian era, roughly from the 1830s through the first decade of the 1900s. The period saw many changes in fashion, including changes in styles, fashion technology and the methods of distribution. Various movement in architecture, literature, and the decorative and visual arts as well as a changing perception of the traditional gender roles also influenced fashion .
Under Queen Victoria’s rule, England enjoyed a period of economic growth along with technological advancement. Mass production of sewing machines in the 1850s as well as the advent of synthetic dyes introduced major changes in fashion.Clothing could be made quicker and more cheaply. Advancement in printing and proliferation of fashion magazines allowed the masses to participate in the evolving trends of high fashion, opening the market of mass consumption and advertising. By 1905, clothing was increasingly factory made and often sold in large, fixed-price department stores, spurring a new age of consumerism with the rising middle class who benefited from the industrial revolution.
During the Victorian era, a woman’s place was at home. Unlike in the earlier centuries when woman could help their husbands and brothers in family businesses, in the nineteenth century, the gender roles became more defined than ever. Their dress styles reflected their lifestyle. Victorian Fashion was not intended to be utilitarian.
Clothes were seen as an expression of women’s place in the society and where hence, differentiated in terms of social class, Upper class women,who did not need to work, often wore a tightly laced corset over a bodice or chemisette, and paired them with a skirt adorned with numerous embroideries and trims, over layers of petticoats. Middle class women exhibited similar dress styles, however the decorations were not as extravagant. The layering of these garments make them very heavy. Corsets were also stiff and restricted movement. Although the clothes were not comfortable, the type of fabrics and the in-numerous layers were worn as a symbol of wealth.
Bertha neckline 1850s
Neckline Bertha is the low shoulder neck-line worn by women during the Victorian era. The cut exposed a woman’s shoulders and it sometimes was trimmed over with a three to six inch deep lace flounce, or the bodice has neckline draped with several horizontal bands of fabric pleats. However, the exposure of neck-line was only restricted to the upper and middle class, working class women during the time period were not allowed to reveal so much flesh. The decollete style made shawls to become an essential feature of dresses. Corsets lost their shoulder traps and fashion was to produce two bodices, one closed decolletage for day and one decollete for evening.
Boning corsets were used in women’s gowns for emphasizing the small waist of the female body. They function as an undergarment which can be adjusted to bound tightly around the waist, hold and train a person’s waistline, so to slim and conform it to a fashionable silhouette. It also helped stop the bodice from horizontal creasing. With the corset, a very small tight fitting waist would be shown. Yet,corsets have been blamed for causing lots of diseases because of the tight waist bound. Conditions examples were curvature of the spine, deformities of the ribs and birth defects. As a result, people started to oppose the use of corsets in later times.