Researching the past

A Look into Fashion of the 1850s: Ladies

A mid-Victorian lady would have many outfits for many occasions, such as calling on friends, attending dinners, balls or maybe just lounging around the house. And of course if the lady was in mourning, she’d have to don black (although there are a complex set of rules around mourning depending upon the relationship between the mourner and the deceased).


But no matter what the occasion, her outfit would always consist of many layers of clothes, including complex undergarments in order to achieve the desired silhouette of the period, which called for a narrow waist and full skirts, accentuating the feminine form (not that any man could get close to her for her enormous skirts).

Further reading

  • [Anon]. 1857. 'Under the Mistletoe' [Cartoon]. Punch, 3 January, p.10.
  • Laver, J. 1973. A Concise History of Costume. [no place]: Thames and Hudson
  • Matthews, M. 2018. A Victorian Lady's Guide to Fashion and Beauty. Barnsley: Pen and Sword
  • Shrimpton, J. 2016. Victorian Fashion. Oxford: Shire Publications
  • The Victorian Web. 2020. Women's Undergarments in Victorian England, 1850-1900. [Online]. [Accessed 25th October 2020]. Available from:


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