Dressing the Victorian Lady from the 1850s

The first garments put on by the lady of the 1850s are the Chemise, an unshaped undergarment which reaches just below the knees and has a drawstring neckline and the drawers with back button closure, open legged for convenience and calf length with scalloped, embroidered hems.

The next item is the corset which, with its back lacing, has a front busk closure, introduced in the late l840’s.

Over the Corset and Corset cover is the Under Petticoat, usually quite plain and worn as many as six at a time, depending on the season.

Next is the Hoop Petticoat, hailed as a liberator from the need for the excessive layers of under petticoats. Only a single under-petticoat was required with the hoop.

The final undergarments is the Over Petticoat, often, with an elaborately embroidered hem. It is worn over the layered under petticoats or, in the late l850’s, the hoop petticoat.

Finally, the lady dons her dress, pictured here in a Fan Front bodice with capped close fitting long sleeves and cartridge pleated, three flounced skirt. The properly attired lady is never seen in public without bonnet and gloves.

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