Turn of the Century Fashions

Exhibit A

The Style of Victorian Era Children

As an avid lover of historical fashion, it's hard for me to choose a favourite style, a favourite era; with a single exception. Airy white cotton blouses and summer dresses, felt or woolen winter coats, decorated sailor suits, huge hats, copious amounts of lace signify my favourite style of all – the victorian era fashions for children. Viewing vintage photographs or preserved clothes from that time, the children’s and preteens’ clothes immediately attract all my attention.

Fig. 01: Colourised photograph of children; Fig. 02: 3 girls in front of a group

The differences between the garments for the adults and the children from that time may seem few to some, with the line becoming even less distinguished when reaching the preteens, but I object. There are, of course, adult-only garments, like underwear, the corsets and garters and bustled petticoats and everything that change one’s entire bodily shape, making it comically exaggerated at times, which are completely absent within children’s fashions. For a stout little girls body, a dress surely has to be fitted to those proportions, probably even baggy so she can grow into them, making the clothes more familiar to the modern eye. The most you will see is an added underskirt or petticoat, which may alter the silhouette slightly, but not to such drastic extents.

Fig. 03: A victorian school class.

I believe it is now time to also adopt this aesthetic for our own clothes. Sometimes, though not that often in my opinion, you can see them nowadays within Lolita and EGL, but with that also come the downgrades of modern fabrics and materials, colours and prints and the such. With acquiring proper period sources, I want to recreate the victorian child’s wardrobe for myself. I love wearing dresses and skirts, stockings, capes, aprons and long coats. I love their boots and puffed sleeves, the lace collars and huge ribbons. The sailor suits and massive straw boaters or bonnets. The childish proportions makes historical fashion more fun, more relaxed and proper for both leisurewear and dressing up, it looks cute and sometimes even comfortable, but not too infantile.

Fig. 04: A nanny (?) with 3 children; Fig. 05: A girl looking to be around 14-15 years old.