Three Reviews of Books on Victorian-Era Fashions

Discover three books that explore Victorian-era fashions. The first dives into the history of Victorian wedding dresses; the second covers the dresses of the bustle period from 1885–1887; and the third takes you on a tour of more streamlined fashion trends from 1888–1889.

Victorian-era fashions

Victorian Wedding Dress in the United States: A History through Paper Dolls
By Norma Lu Meehan and Mei Campbell
Lubbock, Texas: Texas Tech University Press, 2009. Softbound, 32 pages. $12.95. ISBN 978-0-896-72661-1.

Wedding gowns haven’t always been white, and this sweetly illustrated book illuminates that. In addition to the normal pleasure a child will find with paper dolls and their clothes, adults will be delighted by the historical content. Detailed background information on the wearer of each item along with period clothes bring these weddings to life. And the book makes at least one adult want to play with the dolls!

Victorian-era fashions

Bustle Fashions 1885–1887: 41 Patterns with Fashion Plates and Suggestions for Adaptation
By Frances Grimble
San Francisco, California: Lavolta Press, 2010. Softbound, 446 pages, $49.00. ISBN 978-0-9636517-8-5.

These high-quality dress patterns are from the height of the bustle era when the waist was flattered by a close fitting bodice, there was fullness below the waist in back, and flowing skirt “draperies” were a highlight. This book is a requisite for Victorian clothing style identification and dating and re-creation with step-by-step instructions. The patterns are from the original publications used by both amateur and professional dressmakers. A companion volume with no duplicate pattern information is Directoire Revival Fashions 1888–1889.

Victorian-era fashions

Directoire Revival Fashions 1888–1889: 57 Patterns with Fashion Plates and Suggestions for Adaptation
By Frances Grimble
San Francisco, California: Lavolta Press, 2010. Softbound, 563 pages, $51.95. ISBN 978-0-9636517-9-2.

A more deflated silhouette followed the bustle period, and this comprehensive study of women’s clothing styles reflects the changes. The patterns are drawn from the original publications and are an excellent resource for research and re-creation. Complete instructions provide practical application. A companion volume with no duplicate pattern information is Bustle Fashions 1885–1887.

Read more about Victorian needlework in our blog series by Vicki Square in “Vicki’s Vintage Vacation”, which explores the world of Weldon’s Practical Needlework.


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