Do you admire the prim and posh gents and beauties of the Victorian era? The Victorians were unfathomably bizarre folks (see their love of arsenic, the mummy unwrapping parties, bosom rings…), but boy, they sure knew how to dress! The elegantly flowing tailcoats, the spit-shined boots, the big bustles, petticoats, and bonnets…their garments made a statement while still being modest and sophisticated.
The Victorian era is long over, but if you want to dress as the Victorians did, who’s to stop you? For fans of vintage wear, here are four tips for incorporating Victorian style into your fashion while still maintaining some modern flair.
Cinch With a Corset
Corsets may seem daunting, but the truth is that people rarely wore them painfully tight. The Victorians did wear their corsets tighter than people of other eras, but that doesn’t mean you have to follow in their footsteps!
When worn correctly, corsets streamline the figure, correct posture, and provide excellent support for the back and chest. Both Victorian men and women wore them, so if you want to mimic the cinched look of the era, why not give them a try? They’re a vintage trend that’s making a resurgence in 2023, so wearing one will make you look like a cool and trendy Victorian.
Slip-On Slick Shoes
Victorian footwear was generally hard leather, with women’s footwear featuring additional ornamentation in the form of beads, pearls, or rhinestones. Both men’s and women’s boots were heeled and had button, hook, or lace embellishments to hook them to the calves.
If you want feet like the Victorian’s, cover yours up with a sturdy, heeled pair of leather boots or clogs. Avoid ones with modern metal components such as zippers, instead opting for the aforementioned button, hook, or lace attachments.
Be Boldly Modest
The Victorian form of dress was modest, as men and women covered most of their skin. But in the Victorian’s case, “modest” didn’t mean “ boring.” Women wore large, billowing skirts and bonnets larger than their heads, and their clothes featured fine details and eye-catching feminine patterns. Men showed off with tall top hats, tailored coats, and froofy ties or cravats.
Bustles aren’t the most comfortable, nor are tightly fitted men’s dress shirts and vests, but so long as you dress modestly, classily, and with a touch of big, bold color and personality, your Victorian ancestors will be proud.
Be Glam and Bejewel Yourself
The Victorians were minimalist with their jewelry, but both men and women would boast at least one piece. Women commonly wore rings, brooches, bracelets, and cameos made from materials such as gold, seed pearls, and ivory. These pieces often featured ornate designs depicting natural symbols such as roses, butterflies, snakes, and birds. Lockets and cameos held portraits of Queen Victoria or the wearer’s loved ones.
Men followed a strict dress code and didn’t wear many accessories. They wore cuff links, shirt studs, waistcoat buttons, and rings, which were usually simple and made of metal with no inset gemstones.
So, to dress like a Victorian, wear minimal jewelry but make sure the pieces you do don stand out!
By using these tips for incorporating Victorian style into your fashion, you can create fits that are blasts from the past. Whether you want to go full Victorian or do a modern-Victorian mix, we wish you the best in your historical outfit endeavors!
Dianne Pajo is a writer based out of the Chicagoland area with a passion for music, combat sports, and animals. She enjoys competing in amateur boxing and kickboxing, but in her other leisure time, you can find her performing music around the city. She is also a dog mom of 2.