The Victoria & Albert Museum writes of 1870s women’s dress:
“1870s women’s fashion placed an emphasis on the back of the skirt, with long trains and fabric draped up into bustles with an abundance of flounces and ruching. The waist was lower in the 1870s than the 1860s, with an elongated and tight bodice and a flat fronted skirt. Low, square necklines were fashionable. Hair was dressed high at the back with complicated twists and rolls, falling to the shoulders, adorned with ribbons, bands and decorative combs. Hats were very small and tilted forward to the forehead. Later in the decade wider brimmed ‘picture hats’ were also worn, though still tilted forwards.”
Wikipedia summarizes women’s fashion of the 1870s, writing:
“By 1870, fullness in the skirt had moved to the rear, where elaborately draped overskirts were held in place by tapes and supported by a bustle. This fashion required an underskirt, which was heavily trimmed with pleats, flounces, ruching, and frills. This fashion was short-lived (though the bustle would return again in the mid-1880s), and was succeeded by a tight-fitting silhouette with fullness as low as the knees: the cuirass bodice, a form-fitting, long-waisted, boned bodice that reached below the hips, and the princess sheath dress. Sleeves were very tight fitting. Square necklines were common.
Day dresses had high necklines that were either closed, squared, or V-shaped. Sleeves of morning dresses were narrow throughout the period, with a tendency to flare slightly at the wrist early on. Women often draped overskirts to produce an apron-like effect from the front.
Evening gowns had low necklines and very short, off-the-shoulder sleeves, and were worn with short (later mid-length) gloves. Other characteristic fashions included a velvet ribbon tied high around the neck and trailing behind for evening (the origin of the modern choker necklace).”
Of 1870s men, the Victoria & Albert Museum writes:
“Coats and jackets were semi-fitted and thigh-length. Generally, both jackets and waistcoats were buttoned high on the chest. Shirt collars were stiff and upstanding, with the tips turned down into wings. Hair was often worn parted in the centre, and most forms of facial hair were acceptable, though being clean shaven was rare.”
Of 1870s men, Wikipedia writes:
“Innovations in men’s fashion of the 1870s included the acceptance of patterned or figured fabrics for shirts and the general replacement of neckties tied in bow knots with the four-in-hand and later the Ascot tie.”
- “1870s in Western Fashion.” Wikipedia. Accessed August 4, 2016. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1870s_in_Western_fashion
- “History of Fashion 1840 – 1900.” Victoria & Albert Museum. Accessed July 15, 2016. http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/h/history-of-fashion-1840-1900/
- England: Queen Victoria (1837-1901)
Resources for Fashion History Research
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