At a time when even mourning had strict rules of etiquette about how and what kind of fabric women were to dress in during the Victorian Era, it’s no wonder they had a dress for every occasion of their day and even of their life.
Although this idea is not very strange for modernity, since types of clothes are applied to different environments and situations, in that period there was not a moment, other than bedtime, when women were not in long dresses full of petticoats. and held in painful corsets.
Furthermore, the very specific rules of the 19th century, as pointed out in The Ladies Book of Etiquette and Manuel of Politeness, from 1872, bordered on the disturbing. One woman even had the right dress to receive a phone call, for example, and it had to match the accessories made specifically for that moment.
(Source: Moriah Densley/Reproduction)
All this impractical fashion that hung women up to 4 kilos of fabric, made it impossible for the woman to move in the tight dresses. Nothing that happened below their waistline and the length of their arms could be controlled by them because bending down was not an option.
Although this type of clothing was the trend and the social law in force at the time, many women felt that it was also a way of oppressing and imprisoning them, so they created innovations to recover a minimum of mobility and dignity over their bodies.
This is how, for example, the crinoline came about – a beehive-shaped frame that held the skirt underneath – which not only reduced the absurd weight and refreshed the female body, but also gave space for the legs to move, although their composition was extremely flammable.
The beginning of the revolution
But that was not enough, because women still have to carry the hem of their skirts lest it get dirty and affect their social standing in an “apocalyptic” way for Victorians, drawing the ire even of their husbands.
That’s how the skirt lifter came about, in mid-1846, which was nothing more than a small clip stuck in the middle of the dress and tied around the woman’s waist. It held the hem of the dress without having to occupy the hands, allowing women to engage in all sorts of activities previously limited by the expectation of fashion and lack of mobility.
The skirt lifter was just one of the products that paved the way for a future in which fashion thought more of women as a person, not some sort of social doll that should always look flawless to others. In addition, the accessory allowed them to enjoy sports activities such as cycling.
The Industrial Revolution also played its part with the amount of capital and mass production stimulus that helped to accelerate trends that no longer lasted decades but years.