Thursday, August 21, 2008

How to Dress Your Victorian Female Character - Part 2


It's worth noting that during Victorian times, a Lady never referred to her legs. Petticoats and other undergarments were worn to hide the shape of a woman's legs. Does your Lady wear stockings gathered at the knee? What kind of garter holds her stockings in place? Are they made from rich silk fabrics with woven patterns or embroidered motifs? Or are they plain, ribbed, or fancy knit stockings?

  • Garters: An article of clothing used to hold up stockings—garters evolved over time so be sure to dress your fantasy character appropriately. The first garters tied around the leg, the next garters slipped onto the leg, and then elastic garters were invented. By the end of the century, a strap sewn to the bottom of the corset worked like a suspender to secure the stockings. What garter is appropriate for your character's period?

Other Underwear

  • Crinolines: A skirt made of coarse stiff fabric like cotton or horsehair worn over the petticoat and then covered by a decorative petticoat

  • Bustles: A pad, cushion, or framework worn under the back of a woman's skirt to expand, support, and display the full cut and drape of a dress. It was worn over the petticoat and then covered by a decorative petticoat.

  • Corset covers: Protected the dress and corset from perspiration. This garment originated as the separate bodice for the petticoat. This waist length garment opened at the front.

The Victorian Skirt or Dress

Victorian Ladies were women of fashion. Over the basic dress, they wore a variety of matching draperies and overskirts which fell in graceful folds to embellish the dress. The basic dress sometimes came in two pieces, a matching bodice and skirt. Other dresses were sewn as a single garment with a fitted seam at the waist. Another popular fashion used consistently in writing fantasy is the one-piece princess dress with no waist seam. Dress style varied with fashion.

Dress Accessories

Ladies made a fashion statement by completing their look with matching accessories. Other items you'll want to add and research include collars, under-sleeves and cuffs.

Matching capes and jackets added a bit of flare to the basic dress. Sometimes these matching capes and jackets were made to be worn indoors. Other outwear includes things like cloaks, shawls and mantles.

Shoes and Boots

Shoe fashion for indoors included flat slippers in the first half of the nineteenth century. For outdoors, Ladies wore short boots with flat heels. During the second half of the century footwear developed heels and boots became taller.

Head Coverings

  • Caps: In the early Victorian period, caps were worn indoors by married and older Ladies.
  • Decorative hair-nets
  • Bonnets: Worn outdoors over indoor caps.
  • Hats: Stylish hats were worn without the indoor cap.

Other Victorian Accessories

To complete your character's wardrobe you'll add other Victorian Accessories. The following list will aid in your research to complete the look:

Gloves, flat purses, walking stick parasols, pleated folding fans, jewelry and more.

Now that you have the basics to get started, visit sites like the Victorian Fashion Timeline for more information.

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