Some Thoughts on 1850s Victorian Fashion as featured in the Finishing School Books (Special Extras)

The Finishing School books go from 1851 ~ 1854, Fashionable Reader.

The silhouette itself remained basically unchanged throughout this time period. It wasn’t until the cage crinoline was introduced, after the final Finishing School book, that things moved quickly into new avenues.

I thought you might like to see a sample of 1850s dresses specific to this series.

1850  The Metropolitan Museum of Art


The tucked front and elaborate ruching was a hallmark of earlier dresses from the 1840s. As the period wore on, the front became smoother and shawl collars more popular, like so…

1850-1853  Musée Galliera de la Mode de la Ville de Paris


The sloped shoulder remained popular throughout this time period. Broad shoulders on women were considered unseemly, possibly because they were a mark of physical fitness and manual labor. (Can have THAT in hte upper crust. No no no.)

Day Dress  1850s  The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


That said, pagoda sleeves remained relatively popular, as the inverted triangle shape of the bodice, width of the sleeve and width of the dress all were thought to give the illusion of a smaller waist.

1852-1854  The Metropolitan Museum of Art


One of the reasons I chose this time period is that this style of dress is ideal for hidden skirt pockets full of stuff, not to mention devices up sleeves. There are ways to adapt these ridiculous dresses to espionage that fall away as the Victorian Era progresses.

1850 Waistcoat  1850s  The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


Very very Sophronia…

via steampunksteampunk tumblr


This post originally appeared in Retro Rack.

Yours in multiple petticoats,

Miss Gail

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