The author has graciously shared with readers of the Victorian Web this passage from the second edition of her Fashion in Costume, 1200-2000 (2000), published by A & C Black (Publishers) Ltd., which retains copyright. Readers wishing to obtain the book can e-mail the following address:

Gloves were still considered essential for both men and women. Men's gloves might be fairly heavy for driving but were otherwise made from fine kid in grey, brown or black, joined by natural chamois in the 1890s. White gloves with evening dress were obligatory; extra pairs might even be carried to a ball to ensure an immaculate appearance throughout the festivity. Women's gloves were short, to the wrist or a little above, until the 1880s when long gloves to the elbow and beyond were worn for evening and some three-quarter-length for day, all very snugly fitting. Light colours were usual, but black became rather fashionable in the 1880s. Mittens were rarely worn after the 1870s.

Umbrellas were used by men-and women but were more utilitarian than fashionable until the last two decades of the century, when a tightly-rolled umbrella might be carried by men in place of a cane; both sexes took pride in owning an expensive silkcovered umbrella.

Men's canes or walking sticks were lightweight with silver knobs, or might be heavier with crooked handles during the 1880s; in the 1890s it was often considered dandified or affected for a young man to carry a cane, but the custom continued until World War I. Accessories associated with cigar smoking were carried. jewelry consisted of scarf pins, gold or jewelled cufflinks and heavy gold watch-chains worn across the front of the waistcoat between the pockets, passing through a buttonhole or, after 1888, a special chain-hole. The monocle, associated by the Americans, Australians and others with the English 'dude', was worn around this period and into the next century, though rather rarely; pince-nez were also worn towards the end of the century.

Parasols in the 1860s were tiny, about 12 inches across, trimmed with lace and fringe, often with a folding handle; they varied in size between 1870 and the 1890s when they were large and long-handled, light-coloured and ruffled, or more dashing with, for instance, black lace over brilliant pink silk. Muffs, rather small and rounded in wool, velvet, sealskin and Persian lamb, were used by women throughout the period, becoming a little larger in the 1890s when fur such as sable or chinchilla might be used. Reticules of various sizes and shapes, silk, netted or beaded, were carried during the 1850s-60s and continued for evening and occasionally for day until the 1890s. Small, pretty aprons were worn for sewing or similar ladylike pursuits until the mid-1860s, but after that they became practical articles, worn by housewives, or by cooks in gingham or white linen, by parlour maids in fine cambric or linen with bibs, and by teachers, governesses or shop assistants in black sateen. Bouquet holders in gold or silver were carried at evening parties, chatelaines and chatelaine bags were hung from the waist in the 1890s, when decorative buckles or clasps often fastened the belt.

Brooches were large and heavy and varied in design; gold and pinchbeck, garnets and turquoise set with seed pearls were popular from 1865. By the 1890s they were smaller and lighter in design, as were rings which previously had been broad and rather heavy. Sets of jewelry -- bracelets, brooches and earrings, plus possibly lockets, large or small -- were worn; earrings, increasingly popular as the hair was drawn back off the ears, were large from 1865 to 1875, then smaller. Cameos were worn throughout the period, gold chains between 1865 and 1890, and in the 1890s broad 'dog collars' of diamonds or brilliants (a style highly favoured by the Princess of Wales), bangle bracelets, watches attached to an ornamented brooch and decorative hair combs or hair pins set with pearls could all form part of the fashionable woman's ensemble. [166]

Related Material


Nunn, Joan. Fashion in Costume, 1200-2000. 2nd edition. A & C Black (Publishers) Ltd; Chicago: New Amsterdam Books, 2000.

Last modified 9 December 2013