Early Victorian era

December 17, 2009

1850-1870
Early Victorian
Crinoline Period
Second Empire Costume

The Victorian period is so named for Queen Victoria who ruled the British Empire from 1837 to 1901. A very long reign. See http://www.pbs.org/empires/victoria for more information on her life and the British Empire. She was married to Prince Albert and had eleven children. Prince Albert dies in 1861 and Victoria goes into mourning for the rest of her life. The dark colors of the mourning dress set the maroon and dark hues we associate with the later Victorian periods.

It is a period associated with strict moral and social codes of behavior and dress, yet filled
with wealthy men having mistresses openly. The image that society saw was
tremendously important.

In France the Second Empire was under the rule (1852-1870) of Napoleon III and his wife Eugenie. Both of these couples (Victoria and Albert and Napoleon and Eugenie) were important inspirations for the fashion trends. http://www.En.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_French_Empire Napoleon III was as ambitious as his uncle. Like Louis XIV and Napoleon I, he used the textile industry to further the French economy. Charles Frederick Worth (considered the first couturier) came to Napoleon and Eugenie with his designs. Worth had many connections in the textile industry and convinced Napoleon that he would use those connections in his designs. Needless to say, when Eugenie wore a Worth gown the rest of the society fell in as well.

In the U.S. the most dominant event was the Civil War which starts in 1661 and ends in
1865. It took its toll on the resources of the country. http://www.historyplace.com/civilwar

Technology is bursting: electricity, photography, steam power, telegraph, telephone,
aniline dyes, and sewing machines. The technological changes between 1850 and 1900
are astounding. The rapid pace of these changes parallels the rapid changes in fashion.

Women’s Clothing
The Early Victorian, Crinoline, or Second Empire costume is what you should envision.
Think of the movie Gone with the Wind. It is a narrow shoulder look, small waist, and
extremely large hem sweep with a supporting hoop or crinoline underneath the dress.

In the Romantic period the sleeves were full at the biceps, that fullness moved down the
arm and opened into a funnel like shape called pagoda sleeves. In Figure 4 note the
striped trim on the bicep portion of the sleeve and the striped trim on the open funnel
portion of the sleeve. This sleeve is often worn with a full sleeve (gathered at the wrist)
under it.

The circular hoop or cage was an intricate device. Some folded up, some tilted, there
were cords attached so one could pull adjust easily. The Thompson cage was one that
was not circular but extended in the back. It put more attention to the back of the
garment and gradually leads to the bustle.

Hairstyles
The hairstyles changed from the Apollo knot to more sever styles, parted in the middle
and often pulled back into a bun. However, softness was added by having long curls
(Shirley Temple style) hanging from the sides of the head.

Bloomer Costume
In the midst of the exaggerated hem sweeps of the skirts, tightly corseted waists, and tight
bodices came a call for dress reform. Over the past two centuries there was an outcry of
justice for the working classes and now, it seems, it was the start of an outcry for
woman’s rights. There were several magazines for women and one such magazine, Lily,
featured a costume that would be practical for women and still stylish. It was called the
Bloomer Costume (Figure 21) due to the woman, Amelia Bloomer, who was the editor
and occasionally wore the costume. The costume was NOT universally worn, however.
Later on, it would be used as a bathing costume.

Men’s Wear
The clothing for men did not change very much during the last 50 years of the 19th
century. The curved waistline of the Romantic period straightened out into a boxy look
and the men generally wore longer jackets that were even in the front and back. They
looked more like today’s suits.

Often the jacket and pants did not match. When they did match as in figure 25 they were
called ditto suits.
Hats worn were top hats, Figure 24, or bowlers, Figures 25. Canes were still important
male accessories.

While facial hair was very common, men were clean shaven, had moustaches, beards,
and a natural looking hairstyle. In Figure 26 you can see a white shirt, white brocaded
waistcoat, and purple jacket. The collar stands up with the help of a black tie.

Children
The children wore similar clothing to the adults, but with much more freedom than they
had in the 16th and 17th centuries. The skirts and knickers were short for the children and
got longer as they got older. Figure 27 shows a young girl with a shorter skirt than her
mother but still with the tiny waist and full hem.

Movies: Gone with the Wind
Little Women
The Piano
Great Expectations

Discussion:

During the Early Victorian period, technology boomed more than ever. Technological advances in electricity, photography to capture the moments (also use of documentation and primary source), Steam power, telegraphs and telephones as a means of communication, and last but definitely not the least is the sewing machines. Before the sewing machine was invented, most of the sewing was done by hand. During the Civil war, the use of a sewing machine was demonstrated and soon became the epitome of the RTW business. Without the sewing machine, it would have been impossible for designers to produce large quantities of clothing for the American growing population. Not only did the sewing machine save time and effort, it made certain garments popular because it was already made. The invention of the sewing machine made it easy for the work of an individual designer to make a certain type of garment. An example of the use of technical advances came the Crinoline cage. Crinoline is a stiff like type of fabric used mostly in petticoats for women’s skirts. The cage was made so that the women’s skirts would stay in place and hold out. Still during this period, corsets were still in, but the Crinoline cages were considered undergarments as well and was used for the shaping of the full skirt. This made it easy for women to move more freely under their garments.

Technology today is still an important aspect in fashion. Sewing machines are more advanced and used widely in garment factories. But what happens when you mix a unique designer and the use of technology within a garment? Designer Hussein Chalayan fused both fashion and technology into one during a spring/summer collection in 2007. He took bits and pieces of garments from different eras and decades and “cross pollinated” certain garments together. He looked at what elements he could use from one era and somehow incorporated it into another era to make the garment piece look unique. Hussein definitely showed a futuristic type feel and encapsulated evolution within the garments he presented. Here in the picture, Hussein turned a simple dress into a Victorian dress making it look like she has a crinoline-like cage underneath.Technology is definitely still advancing today, and garments are getting more and more complex as time progresses. As much as we say history repeats itself, fashion is taking a different tone with designers and their unique ideas with combining fashion from the past and making it their own with a more modern day twist for the future.

During the Early Victorian period, technology boomed more than ever. Technological advances in electricity, photography to capture the moments (also use of documentation and primary source), Steam power, telegraphs and telephones as a means of communication, and last but definitely not the least is the sewing machines. Before the sewing machine was invented, most of the sewing was done by hand. During the Civil war, the use of a sewing machine was demonstrated and soon became the epitome of the RTW business. Without the sewing machine, it would have been impossible for designers to produce large quantities of clothing for the American growing population. Not only did the sewing machine save time and effort, it made certain garments popular because it was already made. The invention of the sewing machine made it easy for the work of an individual designer to make a certain type of garment. An example of the use of technical advances came the Crinoline cage. Crinoline is a stiff like type of fabric used mostly in petticoats for women’s skirts. The cage was made so that the women’s skirts would stay in place and hold out. Still during this period, corsets were still in, but the Crinoline cages were considered undergarments as well and was used for the shaping of the full skirt. This made it easy for women to move more freely under their garments.


Technology today is still an important aspect in fashion. Sewing machines are more advanced and used widely in garment factories. But what happens when you mix a unique designer and the use of technology within a garment? Designer Hussein Chalayan fused both fashion and technology into one during a spring/summer collection in 2007. He took bits and pieces of garments from different eras and decades and “cross pollinated” certain garments together. He looked at what elements he could use from one era and somehow incorporated it into another era to make the garment piece look unique. Hussein definitely showed a futuristic type feel and encapsulated evolution within the garments he presented. Here in the picture, Hussein turned a simple dress into a Victorian dress making it look like she has a crinoline-like cage underneath.Technology is definitely still advancing today, and garments are getting more and more complex as time progresses. As much as we say history repeats itself, fashion is taking a different tone with designers and their unique ideas with combining fashion from the past and making it their own with a more modern day twist for the future.

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