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Fashion In The 19th Century

by Himanshi Sharma

17 February 2023

Fashion is something inevitable and had existed always. A fashion of a particular era not only tells us about the clothes people wore but also help us identify their life style, the climatic conditions and even politics of that particular era. 

The fashion in the 19th century can not only be described as beautiful but also as extraordinary and mind blowing. We all might have watched period dramas or movies such as the Jane Austen’s classic “Pride and Prejudice” and the famous “Bridgerton” show on Netflix. The clothing of the casts on this show gives us an idea about the fashion in the 19th century. Now, let us see them in detail.

The 19th century can be divided into two eras namely the pre-Victorian era or early era (1800-1839) and the Victorian era (1840-1899)


Early era (1800-1839):

Women’s Fashion:  

The most notable and popular fashion or trend in the era are the empire waist, low square neck, and skirts which or either plain or in folds. This era women preferred mostly pastel colors and white was predominant among them. The works on their dress are mostly subtle such as small frills or embroidery at the borders. The skirts are made in a way that helps them to move quickly. They used Cotton and other similar fabric for their dress.


Corsets are not preferred and they are replaced by jackets and shawls which matched their attire. The women mostly used these shawls during winter season. The fabrics used are cashmere, muslin and other ones. The cloak was most famous and almost every woman of the century owned a cloak.

The women had put their hair in short curls, which are inspired, from the Greeks and Romans.

What is empire waist?

It is a waistline, which is present just below the bust. That is the waist is raised around two to 3 inches from the actual waistline.

Men’s Fashion:

Men in the 18th century used to wear jewelries and wigs, which are gone on this era. Even the skirts and puffed trousers were avoided. Men shifted to tight trousers that are up to the length of their knee. They started wearing coats with padded shoulders. The coats were reduced to be around the length of their waists, which is a change from the previous long ones.


Victorian era (1840-1899):

Women’s fashion: 

In this period, the corsets are back along with the multiple layering of the women’s skirt. The clothing is heavy which made it hard for the women to move quickly once again. The dresses are very long that they touched the floors. The neckline was broad, deep and shoulder revealing. They had a natural waistline and a “V” pointed bodice right below it. The sleeves are made to be big, puffy and balloon like.

The women also wore shawls, capes around their shoulders. Bonnets and hats are also famous during this era. Another famous accessory of this era is the ballerina type shoes of the women. 

The women started portioning their hair in the middle or side. They also put them in a bun in the back or near the ears with one or two curls hanging on their face.

Men’s fashion: 

There are only minor changes and a bit addition in this period when compared to the previous one. Men started wearing different colored coats and trousers. The coats are of dark colors whereas the trousers are of mild colors. The shirts are mostly white. They started wearing full-length trousers. The lengths of the coats are increased up to their knees. Vests and Jackets are also introduced.


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