The Victorians were very interested in fairies and all sorts of other spooky stuff. A flower fairy costume would be a good one for a little girl, even if the costume is not everyday wear for a Victorian girl. The costume would also do good service for dressing up in other contexts or as a party dress.
A truly authentic Victorian Lady’s costume is quite complex. See below for how they dressed – it’s no wonder they needed servants and dressers to help them with their clothes! But you can get the Victorian Look much more easily today, without having to go to all the trouble that Victorian ladies had to take just to get dressed!
These included a corset, to create an hourglass figure for the fashionable Victorian lady, frilly, long legged pants and plain stockings in wool or cotton. The corset was worn over a simple white cotton under-dress that reached the thighs.
The Victorian Petticoat
Women wore petticoats to prevent their legs from showing as well as to protect themselves from the hoop and the bustle (of the early Victorian era). You can make a simple petticoat by using an old white sheet and cutting it so that it won’t show below your dress. If you use the hemmed edge of the sheet for the bottom of your petticoat, you will save yourself some work. Simply gather the sheet and attach a band to the top with simple stitches.
The Hoop Or Bustle
Hoops are generally built into an additional petticoat. They are made from wire and can be purchased relatively inexpensively online. Bustles are also constructed of wire and covered with material. They have a sash attached to wrap them around the waist to raise the dress in the back.
The Victorian Dress
Most dresses were elaborately hand sewn with rich fabrics. There are patterns available but are often quite complex and you may need to start creating your dress quite some time before the event so you may prefer to consider purchasing one that is already made. Dress colours typically were royal purples, deep blues, and vibrant pinks. They were enhanced with fine embroidery using pearls and beads and elaborate gathering.
The Victorian Accessories
No upper class Victorian female would consider leaving the house without her gloves and a bonnet. Most gloves were made of solidly covered material since the dresses themselves were so elaborate. Occasionally, they might have beads or jewels sewn onto them for classic effect. Glove stores frequently have stunning high fashion gloves for sale and you will have loads of fun shopping for this accessory.
Find a simple straw bonnet and decorate it with fabric that matches your dress. The ribbon can wrap around the base of the hat and double as a tie to secure it to your head. Flowers and feathers are always a welcome addition to any bonnet.
If you want to make your own Victorian costume, you could start by making a walking skirt. This video shows how to make and cut out the pattern, cut and sew the material and shows how it was sewn together on an old hand-turned sewing machine. The video also includes adding a pocket to the skirt.
Girl’s Flower Fairy Costume
The Victorians were known for believing in fairies. A flower fairy dress would fit well with a Victorian party theme.
For a man, there are also great Victorian costumes to choose from but it can be a lot more difficult to source these. The majority of wealthy men from that era were known for wearing calf-length frock style coats that were custom fitted along with either a waist coat or a double breasted vest.
Colours were mainly neutral but could sometimes be bright. There were of course many poor men, country lads, grooms, chimney sweeps, road sweepers, butlers, footservants and soldiers. Alternatively, you could choose to go as a professional from that era, such as a schoolmaster, lawyer, judge, Minister of Religion or even a detective!
No one is going to worry if your costume is not totally authentic, so wear what you enjoy, although wearing an authentic Victorian bathing costume or nightshirt and cap might get a little chilly!.
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