One of the things that I researched for the Impertinent Daughters series was how the fashion had changed since the Regency Era. Regency Era fashion was defined by its long, columnar shapes and high waists.
The Victorian Era had several different fashion silhouettes which have become iconic and are easily spotted: the wide skirts made by many petticoats and crinolines, and the bustles later in the century.
Many have wondered how fashion went from a statuesque ideal to volumous skirts. Well, for the two decades from Waterloo to Victoria, there was the sentimentality of the Romantic Era. Marked by puffy sleeves in the 1820s, the waist began to return to its natural state, and skirts became more bell-like.
1829 fashion plate
By the end of the decade, the shoulder line is exaggerated and the sleeves are growing wider, known as gigot. Pleating was a common technique to contain the extra volume needed for the sleeves. Daytime gowns often included wide pelerine collars made of lace. Evening gowns were now off the shoulder. Stays were still worn and many heavily startched and/or corded petticoats were required to gain the appropriate volume on the bottom.
The sleeve widths were supported by “plumpers” stuffed in the gowns. Between the wide sleeves and the wide skirts, an optical illusion is created making waists look smaller. Gowns of the era often included belts to also emphasize the waist.
1830 fashion plate
1833 fashion plate
By the end of the 1830s, sleeves could no longer grow wider and instead drooped down.
By the mid-1840s, the sleeves begin to take on an open bell or pagoda shape which would feature heavily in the 1850s and 1860s.
The Romantic Era gowns often meets with criticism in the present world. However, contemporaries of the time also noted the difficulties with the attire.
It took some time for me to come around, but now I quite like the style of the Romantic Era. What do you think?
Follow Rose’s Pinterest Board: Romantic Era fashion