Fashion of the Victorian Era
Fashion during the Victorian Era was eccentric, ornamented, and elaborate. Queen Victoria’s influence began in the 1830’s and continued through the early 1900’s. The women of the Bringhurst family were certainly impacted by this and tailored their dress to the most elaborate fashions of the time. The accessories during the time period are truly exquisite.
Hats became larger and were the most important accessory among women during this time period. They were used primarily as protection from the sun but eventually became known as a symbol of class and authority. Hats were an essential part of a woman’s appearance and, therefore, were worn whenever a woman left the house. Typically, they were made of velvet, satin, or cotton and had a wire base to form their shape. They were commonly adorned with pompous decorations including straw braids, feathers, ribbons, artificial flowers, twisted fabric, fruits, veils, and often, stuffed birds. Hats that lacked these embellishments were balanced with extremely wide brims. Hat pins became popular in the late part of the turn of the century. These were used to fasten the hat to the head by sticking it through the hat from the outside to catch the hair on the inside. Just like the hats, the hat pins were also an indication of class. Average women had only a few, simple pins to be used with multiple hats and outfits. Wealthy women had a full collection kept in their ‘hat pin holder’.
Shoes were also a notable accessory during this time period. It wasn’t until the 19th century that shoes were made with a right foot and a left foot, rather than one interchangeable size. Further into the century, boots were becoming acceptable and popular for women to wear. They were generally made of leather and almost always had a heel and a pointed or squared toe. These boots were fairly pricy for the time period and, again, represented women of a higher class, such as the Bringhurst family.
Other common accessories of the turn of the century were shawls, cloaks, mantles, scarves, and small aprons. Gloves were also very popular, as was the parasol—women were constantly trying to protect themselves from the sun. In terms of jewelry, large brooches were worn at the throat and earrings of different sizes could be found as well.
R, C. N. “Fashion.” Web log post. Victorian Era. Victorian Era, 27 Jan. 2011. Web. 30 Oct. 2011. <http://victorianeracnr.blogspot.com/>.
Lisa. “Mid & Late 1910s Fashion.” Lisa’s Nostalgia Cafe. Lisa’s Web World, Aug. 2000. Web. 30 Oct. 2011. <http://lisanostalgia1.tripod.com/10sfashion2.html>.
-Katherine Meinhardt, April Mezzardi, Kaitlin Cunningham, Adelaide Freeman