Victorian Fashion through the Seasons – Autumn

Victorian Era Fashion / Source: MET Museum

Victorian Era Fashion / Source: MET Museum

Lady Autumn makes her grand entrance down the marble stair in a shining gown of bronze taffeta. A rustling train cascades in her wake, trimmed with newly fallen leaves in hues of cranberry, pumpkin, and ginger. Crowned with a golden coronet, bedecked with garnets and amber, Lady Autumn glides onto the ball room floor, exuding relaxed elegance and a hint of sandalwood perfume.

I love the turn of the seasons almost as much as I love Victorian fashion.

Granted, my home in Texas doesn’t allow me to experience the natural grandeur of all four seasons. I basically live in a state of never-ending, sweltering summer. However, I am ever determined to embrace the essence of each season as it turns elsewhere.

When September rolls around, I decorate my home with faux golden pumpkins and fall foliage. Throughout October, I sip cranberry orange tea and savor many a pumpkin scone. And as soon as November appears on the calendar, I rummage through plastic tubs tucked away in a humid garage to retrieve little-worn, yet beloved sweaters and knit berets all the while ignoring the weather man who says the day’s high temperature is seventy-nine degrees.

Ever determined, my enthusiasm for fall fashion will not be dissuaded! Therefore, in honor of the turning season, I thought it would be fun to admire a selection of Victorian Era fashions that evoke the essence of autumn. Cozy up with a warm blanket and a hot cuppa, and let the fashion show begin!

Victorian Fashion through the Seasons – Autumn

Click the photos to see more angles & close ups.

Day Dress dated 1867-1871. Designed by Depret (French). Finely crafted of pumpkin orange silk. / Source: MET Museum.

Day Dress dated 1867-1871. Designed by Depret (French). Finely crafted of pumpkin orange silk. / Source: MET Museum.

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Queen Elizabeth’s Hats on Parade

Queen Elizabeth II on July 16, 2015 in Barking, England. / Source: Max Mumby, Indigo, Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth, July 16, 2015 in Barking, England. / Source: Max Mumby, Indigo, Getty Images

When I contemplate my fashion inspirations, three things immediately spring to mind: the ever elegant Audrey Hepburn, every Victorian lady who ever donned a House of Worth gown, and Queen Elizabeth II.

Queen Elizabeth’s fashion sense is timeless. Classic and feminine. Individual and iconic. The gloves, the jewels, the perfectly coordinated monochromatic ensembles, all worn with an air of grace and poise—and one, solitary, black patent purse.

While I admire every facet of the Queen’s style, my favorite has to be her seemingly endless hat collection. One that has been honored by the highest millinery authority. That’s right, dears. In 2014, Queen Elizabeth II was inducted into The Headwear Association Hall of Fame, the oldest trade association in the fashion industry, established in 1908. Talk about major #HatGoals!

Since this month marks the Queen’s 91st birthday (April 21), I thought it would be fun to celebrate by highlighting a selection of her many millinery masterpieces. Gather round old-fashioned fashionistas, it’s time for haute couture hats to go on parade!

Queen Elizabeth’s Hats on Parade

Queen Elizabeth attending a Garden Party at Balmoral Castle on August 7, 2012. / Source: Pinterest

The Queen attending a Garden Party at Balmoral Castle on August 7, 2012. / Source: Pinterest

Queen Elizabeth attending the Trooping the Colour on June 15, 2013. / Source: Zimbo.com

Queen Elizabeth attending the Trooping the Colour on June 15, 2013. / Source: Zimbo

The first hat to march in our parade is a Diagonal Crown Hat, a style also affectionately known as the “Ski Slope” hat. This particular example is trimmed in cobalt lace that provides a brilliant contrast against the white base and echoes the color of the ensemble. Simply beautiful! Continue reading

Duchess Catherine’s Hats on Parade

The Royal Wedding

The wedding day of Prince William and Catherine Middleton on April 29, 2011 in London, England.

Back in February, I introduced you lovely readers to my hat obsession and hosted a Downton Abbey hat parade in honor of the farewell season.

Since I enjoyed that post so thoroughly and since this month marks the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s fifth wedding anniversary, I thought it a fitting time to honor one of my style inspirations—the always elegant, Catherine Middleton.

Strike up the band and unleash the ticker tape, it’s time for fancy fascinators and haute couture hats to go on parade!

 

 

Duchess Catherine’s Hats on Parade

Catherine at the 2013 Christmas Day service. Source: Chris Jackson / Getty Images Europe.

Catherine at the 2013 Christmas Day service. Source: Chris Jackson / Getty Images Europe.

The Duchess of Cambridge arrives for the Christmas Day service at Sandringham on December 25, 2013 in King's Lynn, England. Source: Chris Jackson / Getty Images

The Duchess of Cambridge arrives for the Christmas Day service at Sandringham on December 25, 2013 in King’s Lynn, England. Source: Chris Jackson / Getty Images Europe

This bow-embellished green hat by Gina Foster is a fun addition to Catherine’s tartan coat and exudes a definite Brigadoon vibe! When one dons such a hat, one can only hope to find Gene Kelly under sable skies. (If you caught the song reference, you are my people!) Continue reading

Downton Abbey Hats on Parade

Downton Abbey Hats on Parade MemeOne thing which makes me a 21st century Victorian lady is my obsession with hats! I rarely leave the house without a hat upon my head. In fact, on the rare occasion when I depart my home hatless, I feel rather odd. Like something is missing. You see, hats give me a shot of confidence and make me feel pulled together. Polished. Ready to face the world. Hats are my secret style weapon. Indeed, a truly great hat can take an already pretty ensemble and transform it into one that is marvelous and memorable.

Nothing proves this more, in my mind, than the costumes of Downton Abbey! While the gowns as a whole are quite lovely and the jewels rather sublime, the hats are the cherry on top that grab my attention, episode after episode.

Therefore, in celebration of the final season, I present to thee a selection of my favorite Downton Abbey Hats on Parade!

Lady Cora Crawley

Lady Cora Crawley / Source: Pinterest

Classic in black and cream, this hat brings to mind the horse racing scene of My Fair Lady. “Every duke and earl and peer is here. Everyone who should be here is here. What a smashing, positively dashing spectacle. The ascot opening day.” Continue reading

4 Cringe Worthy Victorian Fashion Trends

Oscar Wilde QuoteExcept for a brief period of conformity in my teens, I have never been a jeans and t-shirt girl.

My style has always veered toward the fancy, feminine, and frivolous. I own more dresses than pants, more gloves than sneakers. Family members chuckle at my interpretation of “casual wear” because it involves pearls or a cloche hat. Usually both.

This zeal for fanciness is one of the reasons I love Victorian fashion and endeavor to incorporate elements of 19th century style into my 21st century wardrobe.

However, while there’s much to admire about Victorian fashion, there were also trends which make me shudder. I’m all for dressing up. But I’m also all about comfort. To me, style should not involve pain.

Yet to the Victorians, fashion and pain often went hand and hand.

To illustrate, here are 4 Cringe Worthy Victorian Fashion Trends.

1. Corsets

Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna of Russia, 1887.

Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna of Russia, 1887.

“The fashionable size for a waist in the 1800s was alleged to be eighteen inches. A corset was the device used to attain this width or something close to it. It consisted of two halves, reinforced with whale bone, that got hooked together in the front and then laced up in back. Compressing all that flesh into a small area was not always an easy job. The corset was one reason women needed a lady’s maid—someone to stand behind them to pull the laces tight.”

~ Daniel Pool, from What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew.

19th Century Corset Advertisement

Fashion-Corset Damage

During the Victorian Era, there was a trend of “tight lacing” corsets among a portion of the fashion conscious, upper-class. Figure “B” shows an example of the deformation which could occur with repeated “tight lacing”.

As one who has suffered a rib injury and the resulting chronic pain, the mere thought of lacing on a corset literally makes me cringe. And wince. And clutch my side, uttering “By the very beard of Jules Verne, why?” Why would anyone purposely endure such a device in the name of fashion? To me this makes no sense. I shall stick to highlighting my waist with a stylish belt, thank you.

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