I few days ago I made a post in which I was discussing the attire of men during the late Victorian period. Really, this collection of images probably date to the 1870s and 1880s and could be considered mid Victorian but at some point this becomes an exercise in semantics. Since the gents have had a turn, I figured that today would be a good chance to give the Victorian ladies some profile. Sadly, there is no exciting facial hair to write about in this post. In its place we have hooped skirts and rather dour looking bonnets.
Now, I am not going to begin to pass myself off as an expert on women's clothing of the Victorian era. Through my museum career I have spent my share of time wearing a Victorian costume, but I must admit that it has always been a male costume. We do have a number of these dresses in the artifact collection at the O'Dell House Museum and I have seen enough archival photographs that I can roughly tell what decade a dress was made based on its appearance. But, if you ever want to see me pretending to be calm in the face of growing terror, make plans to visit the museum when I need to dress a mannequin in an elaborate Victorian dress. I tend to spend a great deal of time wondering where all the pieces belong.
As for this particular collection of portraits, they show a variety of women in different stages of life. While most of the dresses look dark due to the black and white photography, I would assume that at least one of the women was wearing a mourning dress. By the standards of the time, it seemed possible that one could be in official mourning much of the time.
All for now,