Early Victorian England, 1830-1865 - Vol. 1

By G. M. Young | Go to book overview

COSTUME

THE illustrations of costume have been selected to show the general development rather than the details of fashion. Following on the high-waisted and straight-hanging style of the early nineteenth century (revived as a picture-frock by Kate Greenaway), the waist is lowered and the frock belled. (Mrs. Richardson has with much probability suggested that the re-elaboration of costume reflects the revulsion from the Republican-antique to the Renaissance-Bourbon at the Restoration. Something also must be allowed for the pageantry of the time, largely inspired by Scott, and the taste for fancydress balls.) The beginning is seen in Plate 5 ( 1830) and carried farther in Plate 6 (1835). Plate 8 shows the quiet style of the early forties: the skirt here is naturally full, not padded. Plate 9 shows the high style of 1844. The skirt now comes to be supported on masses of petticoats bunched at the waist, an arrangement which made the crinoline (Plate 10, 1855: Plate 17, 1860) a physical and mechanical necessity. By 1861 the outdoor mind (archery, croquet) is beginning to make itself felt in the tailor-made coat covering a crinoline line (Plate 20). Then (Plates 18, 22; 1860-6) the inflated skirt subsides by way of the flounce, the polonaise, and the bustle, into the more manageable style required by the greater freedom and activity of late Victorian life. The old lady of Plate 19 is wearing the pre-crinoline bunched skirt.

But as women's fashions were mostly derived from France they are not historically of much interest in England, which did on the other hand set the fashion in men's wear. By 1830 the use of black for professional and business wear was established; but for sport, travel, and social occasions a great variety of colour, green, brown, blue, was still permitted. At the Waterbrook dinner, only Uriah Heep seems to be in black, and the standard late Victorian evening dress, black and white with a tie of moderate dimensions, would in the thirties have been taken for the garb of a waiter, an usher, or a Westminster boy.

In 1830 black breeches were still worn by the older men (Plate 3) and, for Sunday wear, the fashion persisted among the yeomanry till the fifties. But trousers (with a flap

-xiv-

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Early Victorian England, 1830-1865 - Vol. 1
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • List of Illustrations viii
  • Costume xiv
  • Chronological Table xvii
  • I - Work and Wages 1
  • II - Homes and Habits 77
  • III - Town Life 153
  • IV - Life in the New Towns 225
  • V - Country Life and Sport 245
  • VI - The Navy 297
  • VII - The Army 345
  • VIII - The Mercantile Marine, 1830-65 377
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