The Evening Dress in Victorian era - Essay Example

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The object I chose was the “Evening Dress” in the Victorian era. The Victorian period is an era that constitutes the duration from 1837 to 1901 from the rule of Queen Victoria till her death. The womens…
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Pan Lin Emily Ripley FNES158 March 3, The Evening Dress in Victorian era I attended the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Sunday March 3, The object I chose was the “Evening Dress” in the Victorian era. The Victorian period is an era that constitutes the duration from 1837 to 1901 from the rule of Queen Victoria till her death. The womens fashions during this era varied annually in a similar manner as they change in the present time. However, the crucial characteristics of female costume such as corsets, bonnets, capes, firm full-length dresses persisted regular across this period (Rix). In this paper, I am going to analyze the detail of Victorian style dress. Also, I will discuss how this particular dress reflects issues of social, culture, class, work, lifestyle, leisure and home or more during the Victoria era.
This dress was made by the Father of Haute couture, Charles Frederick Worth, during Queen Victoria reign in the year of 1882. The medium is silk. This evening dress was made elaborately and with a lot of detail. It has included a lot of important elements of Victorian style such as flounced on the cut off sleeves, neckline, bottom of the dress and the sweeper; the bow on the lower right dress and the bow design on the breast area; layers; balayeuse under the dress; cage crinoline and high waist to emphasize the shape of the women body; and no ankle showing. In addition, Charles Frederick Worth used the gauzes to created different layers and used flowers to decorate the dress to add more colors. This demonstrated that the women were conservative but still did not lose resplendent in the design.
“Fashion is a language that creates itself in clothes to interpret reality.” said by one of famous designer Karl Lagerfeld. Clothes can always reflect the society in the particular period. During Queen Victoria reign, there was no war but peace and prosperity. On the other hand, it means the improvement in technology. In the early Victoria era women have to wear a larger number of petticoats underneath, but “in 1856 they were replaced by a ‘cage crinoline’ or hooped petticoat” (Laver, Haye, and Tucker 177). Because of the technology improved women can sit down easily and walk comfortable without carrying heavy petticoats underneath.
The Victorian era evening gowns were made up of the same shape as the daytime gowns. Frequently, women had two tops for the one skirt as one was worn for day time, while the other one in the evening. There was also a significant difference in the necklines as they were highly trimmed, less conservative, and featured shorter sleeve styles. Besides, the sleeveless bodices were also popular. All the way through this period, skirts along with trains were put on for both evening and day wear (Jarrett).
During this era, the material, precise cut as well as the color of apparel exposed the social status of the wearer. The rising affluence of the day resulted in an increased complexity in higher classes women’s fashions. As mentioned afore the evening dresses similar to the day dresses were made up of various layers of diverse cloths, trimmings and shades that were worn along with both over-dresses and under-dresses. Appropriately dressed ladies also used to accessorize their clothing with bonnets and gloves. Moreover, the dress was also considered as an emblem of modesty. So the increased widespread adherence to modesty resulted in rise in Bust lines. Moreover, with the revival of popularity of formal dresses evocative of Georgian France, the waistlines fell. During the initial quarter-century, bulbous "mutton-leg" sleeves turned very fashionable and popular which were later substituted by fitted sleeves and finally bell sleeves (Eras of Elegance, Inc.).
The number of petticoats was declined in the 1850s and replaced by the crinoline which resulted in an expanded size of skirt. The evening gowns were similar to the day dresses but had a low neckline and they were put on, off the shoulder along with opera-length gloves and sheer shawls. In the 1860s decade, the skirts turned flatter from the front but more projected out from the back. The evening dress in that decade continued the tradition of low neckline but with short sleeves. These evening gowns were worn with fingerless lace or short gloves or crocheted mitts. During the 1870s, un-corseted tea gowns were brought in for informal amusing at home and progressively acquired popularity. In order to keep the skirts up from behind, bustles were introduced instead of the crinoline.
Graceful women during the period were not seen strolling without the suitable appurtenance of long gloves, symbolic fans arid flowery parasols. Esteemed events within the social calendar necessitated grandiose show of wealth and noble women were adorned with jewelry arid and go along with their husbands like sparkling symbols of achievement. Being a symbolic representation of the wealth and modesty, the evening gowns of the Victorian era reflect the prevailing peace and prosperity within the state. Moreover during this period the women were being considered as a submissive being and that was also reflected from the layered and tight attire worn by women. The dress was also associated to the modesty of a woman and therefore they had to follow the appropriate dress code in order to be categorized modest and decent. The several layered dress and perfectly designed corsets also resulted in deformations of the internal organ system. The dress was suitable for its time as it was the demand of the society and played a role in signifying feminism through the attire. The changing fashion trends during the period reflected the development in technology as more colors were introduced with the discovery of aniline dyes and the more delicacy introduced with the invention of sewing machines.
Eras of Elegance, Inc. The Victorian Era (1837-1901). 2007. Web. 9 Mar 2013.
Jarrett, Susan. “The Victorian Era- The First Bustle Period and Natural Form: 1870-1883.” History of Fashion and Dress. Jan. 2013. Web. 9 Mar. 2013.
Laver, James. Haye, Amy De La and Tucker, Andrew. Costume and Fashion: A Concise History. Thames & Hudson, 2002. Print.
Rix, Graham. “Womens Clothing during the Victorian Period.” eHOW. 2013. Web. 9 Mar. 2013. Read More
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