25 June 2008

Victorian Inspirations

So this is the top I'm wearing today, apologies for the wet hair, I took this photograph after a shower! I was going for a bit of a nautical theme, and over breakfast my older brother said 'You really were born in the wrong century, you look like a Victorian sailor'. Now that got me thinking quite a bit, Victorian London has always appealed to me, I guess I have this unrealistic romantic vision of it. I draw a lot of inspiration style wise from the Victorian era, however oddly enough, this usual means the upper classes - I love the unique tailoring and exquisite details that they would have worn on a daily basis. They had amazing clothing and beautiful style, yet to them it was not exactly dressing up, it was wearing what was normal!

'Victorian Fashion' is a term that technically applies to fashion from the Victorian period (1837-1901) of Britain, normally from the London area. However the term can be loosely applied to the general stylistic trends of Britain and the colonies, and inevitably the influences these trends and fashions had in mainland Europe. Although fashions, womens' trends in particular, underwent major changes throughout this period, the overriding influences were generally the same. Orientalism had a huge impact, imported from the colonies, these styles were seen as sexually abundant and almost with a wistful air. The Pre-Raphaelites also had an impact with the Gothic Revival, which they promoted so heavily. Towards the later end of the Victorian era (1868 onwards) Aetheticism played a large role, along with the Artistic Dress movement, favouring old style romantic clothing, with billowing gowns and puffed sleeves.

What appeals so greatly to me is the fact that the clothing was far more personal than it is today. Although factories were producing reams of cloth and textiles, ready-to-wear garments were nowhere to be seen. Clothing and accessories were all tailor made to exact specifications depending on the respective clients. Those that could not afford this luxury either made their own clothing at home or bought second hand clothing and adjusted the measurements accordingly. Today's market is full of consumers trying to find the perfect fit, whether it be for jeans or a bespoke suit, and they are willing to pay high amounts for it. I find it strange how today this is seen as the height of luxury, yet in the Victorian times, nearly everybody had custom made clothing, whether directly made if they were rich, or altered if they were not so well off. Weird how times change, right?

Portrait (1810) - Unknown

Sympathy (1878) - Riviere

Mrs Ernest Moon (1888) - Sir William Blake Richmond

Miss Cicely Alexander (1872) - Whistler

F.G. Stephens (1847) - William Holman Hunt

Broken Vows (1856) - Calderon

Au Bal - Marguerite de Conflans en Toilette de Bal (1870) - Manet
Images courtesy of Tate Britain and National Gallery (London)

Currently playing: Man Up ft. Bi Rain - Omarion / Cosy In The Rocket - Psapp



  1. Edna Mode would be proud

  2. That time was so romantic. You do kind of look like a victorian sailor!

  3. Thank you for the history lesson. I think it's good to take on inspiration from the past rather than constantly try to keep up with what's new.

  4. thank you (:
    awesome skull scarf BTW!!

  5. Oh my, so wonderfully written. You really have a knack for this. That Whistler painting is SO absolutely beautiful, look at how great that dress is - so. much. detail.

    I hope you're well, bb! (Thank you for the kind words, too - xo)

  6. Very educational and informative post. Love it.

  7. I am wearing a similarly nautical top as I type! I truly love how much thought you put into your blogs. Magazines would be smart to employ you to write your take on fashion.
    And thank you for the comments on my blog!