Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Clothing of the Victorian Era

Venetian Life, 1884

Rose Garlands
by Frank Topham


Fascination
by Francesco Didoni
One reason that I show the clothing of the Victorian period, was that it was the closest period to our own generation, where men and women dressed so distinctly differently. Differences in male and female clothing could be seen details such as collars, cuffs, buttons, sleeves, waists, hems, pockets, and hats. Such elements always had male and female differences. The womens clothing was most often tailored to fit the woman's body, rather than one-size fits all, or unisex.  From a distance, a man was easily distinguishd from a woman. I wish it were true, today. 



I found this skirt at Victorian Trading Company catalog, online. It was nearly $80.00, so I searched around to see how I could imitate it for $10.00.
House on the Harbor
by T.C. Chiu


I found the fabric, below, which is cotton flannel. The Victorian Trading Company skirt and this flannel fabric I bought, reflect the colors in this painting of the Victorian house, above.


I draped the fabric on the dressform, to show what I want the skirt to look like. I will make a vest to go with it, and wear it with a white cotton flannel blouse. The fabric is perfect for cooler months, yet cheerful and can be worn at home with an apron. When you want to go out, just remove the apron.


I might use a pattern similar to this Simplicity pattern, View D.  If you are a beginner, do not choose a pattern like this.  I will try to get time to post a few patterns that just have a front and back, and not a lot of pieces, for beginners.

When choosing a pattern, look at the back under "suggested fabrics" and make sure the garment was designed for WOVENS such as cottons and denims and other natural fabrics. IF you try to sew a cotton fabric , using a pattern made for STRETCH fabrics, you will not have good results.

I chose the paintings, above, to show some of the elements in women's clothing that made them so feminine and opposite of men's clothing.

This is another ensemble at Victorian Trading Company, and this is the pattern I will be using. It is an older pattern that I have had around for years. The vest will be the same fabric as the skirt.

You do not have to have very many skirts and blouses for winter. One or two will do, and you can make all the aprons you like, to put color and mood into the outfit for home.

Do not be influenced by the myths about 18th or 19th century clothing, in example, the false belief that the clothing was not adequate and that the women did not like it. On the contrary, clothing was a top priority for women, and it was very appealing and beautiful. Re-enactors have said that the clothing was a lot more comfortable than modern clothing.  If you will scroll through my previous posts on this subject of clothing, you will see quite a few paintings of women with this clothing, which was actually quite casual. In fact, the every day wear was not very fancy.  Special occasions, such as parties at home, required more elaborate trims (ruffles and lace) but daily wear was really quite simple: a skirt, an blouse, an apron.

Another myth about Victorian or Colonial clothing and anything before the 20th century, is that women were limited in their activities, while wearing these clothes. The paintings and photographs show that this is simply not true.  Women did a lot more than they do today, on the whole, wearing long skirts and dresses. They often had to walk everywhere, and they worked hard in their gardens and their homes. The 20th century progressives spread such myths in order to make the future generations despise the customs and beliefs of the previous generations. What they had to replace it, has sent fashion in a total tizzy. Look around you and see women who, like Eve, have believed the hairdressers and the clothing designers and fallen for just about anything.  Like the Emperors New Clothes, people walk around in public in things that pose for clothes.  Has anyone ever wanted to tell the truth about the clothing that is worn today?  Well, be sure to post anonymously.

69 comments:

Anonymous said...

The women in those paintings look lovely.

I try to wear skirts as much as possible as it gets to be depressing when you go out in public and most women are wearing track suits or other unisex clothing.

Anonymous said...

Cute skirt pattern! Still wearing dresses and skirts 24/7, since your second post on this subject. I can say that, because I wear long gowns to bed as well.

Thank you for your ministry. It's changed my life. And I'm starting to notice a lot more women in my community that are dressing like me. They don't rush home from church to get back in their jeans. Instead, we've all found ways to look feminine and be comfortable in women's modest clothing. I see my friends at the market, library, and garden center wearing stuff we used to only wear to church. I try to make Sunday dress more special by wearing my elegant cream, pink, and grey wool suits instead of jumpers and shirtwaistes. I would really like to make a suit with a skirt patterned like the one you show in your post. Maybe the fabric would be more plain but definitely feminine. Thank you again for your help and love.

BTW-I watched a BBC special called Victorian House. I loved the Victorian clothing and such used by a modern day family. Unfortunately, the women had very modern ideas about dress and feminism. They could not settle down and love what was offered. But the 11 year old twin girls adapted just fine. It's interesting to watch, but by the end it was like listening to a whining modern feminist in Victorian clothing. Yikes!

Anonymous said...

http://trulyvictorian.com/history/1877.html

http://www.lavendersgreen.com/Early20th.htm

http://www.old-fashionedgirl.com/orgskirt.html

Here are some great pictures. I don't know what it was like in the crinoline or giant bustle but I love the look of the 1900's skirt. The second period that is closer is the 1930's. You can look at a 1940's or 1950's outfit but the Victorian era blows them away. Don't get me wrong I love other eras even some stuff we have today but the Edwardian Era was the best.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Victorian clothing was well fitted and carefully sewn. It was the night dresses that were looser and fuller without waistlines.

Anonymous said...

Good luck making your skirt....the fabric you chose is quite pretty, & looks as though it will hang nicely.

I think someone mentioned on an earlier post about the possibility of your doing a tutorial for some simple sewing. I'm not a rank beginner, (maybe a stronger intermediate), but I certainly would be interested in any help I could get! I hope it's something you'll consider.

I remember once hearing that the people who lived in the 19th century (probably Regency era through the Victorian age) were actually quite strong due to riding horses, which requires good posture. This certainly would apply to women as well. And I think you mentioned, Mrs. Sherman, all the walking they did, load-bearing work, & activities that involved a good deal of stretching. They were not, as some would like to believe, wan & sickly. There can be no denying that there are differences in each generation, for better or worse. But I refuse to believe that the good life for women began with the advent of our own digital, "enlightened" age!

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

To answer the previous comment: It is a modern myth that the Victorians were weak and sickly and that women were not able to "do anything." Visit any Victorian era section of a cemetary, and if you can see the faded dates carved on the stone, you will find many people lived to be over a hundred years old. Hard work, lots of walking, natural food locally grown, build health.

Anonymous said...

I was taught by my Mother (as she was taught by hers) never to wear anything even slightly dressy (especially skirts and dresses) anywear other than church, weddings, or other special occasions. We had to change the moment we arrived home. I don't know why other than my mother's family was extremely poor and could not afford to replace clothing. It took me a long time to get over it and start wearing nicer, more feminine clothes on a regular basis.

Anonymous said...

Hi I already posted but i needed to post again. Lydia I really like the skirt you made and it looks just as good if not better than the $80 skirt. One style that appeals to me is the walking skirt and the shirtwaist. I think most people have misconception about victorian clothing because they see pictures like this http://www.100megspop3.com/adira/1900s.html
I looked at some photos from the 1900's and most women did not have that extreme of an S-shape. It's like catalogs now.

Anonymous said...

What an inspirational skirt you show, and the painting that shows the same colours. Beautiful!

I have a very simple skirt pattern that is only back and front with a waistband: Butterick 3262. It is *the* pattern I use continuously. It is A-line and long and adapts itself so well to a variety of fabric. I've used denim, soft cotton florals, linen-viscose blends (viscose is a breathable fabric and is actually made from cellulose/plant fibre) and corduroy. My family had not realised that I used the same pattern for, almost, my entire wardrobe!

I would love to see the skirt you are proposing to make, along with the vest. I'm sure it will look lovely.

Kind regards,
Sonya

Anonymous said...

I love the pattern and the fabric you picked to make your skirt. I too would love to see it made up.
Am enjoying the other posts about patterns as well.

I recently did a fabric search on JoAnn Fabrics.com and found thick flannel (possibly quilter's flannel) in paisley, plaid, florals, and Moroccon prints that I think would make lovely outfits if paired with a solid flannel peasant top and a vest.

The look would be similar to the Scottish women's garb from the movie "Rob Roy" with Liam Neesan and Jessica Lange. Most practical and comfortable for winter wear and nice enough to wear to town.

I did some research on Victorian/ Edwardian era garments. I found the women used to use and reuse the dress trims and buttons over and over again.
Indeed on several of my estate and garage sale trips I found old sewing baskets with these trims and buttons with bits of old fabric attached to them.

I also found that the women would remake their older clothes to make children's clothes and then into aprons such as you do and finally cut into scrabs to make quilts. The Victorians and Edwardians were very thrifty people.

Thank you for sharing and posting the photos of your outfits, artwork, and patterns. You have inspired us all.

Anonymous said...

I love the pattern and the fabric you picked to make your skirt. I too would love to see it made up.
Am enjoying the other posts about patterns as well.

I recently did a fabric search on JoAnn Fabrics.com and found thick flannel (possibly quilter's flannel) in paisley, plaid, florals, and Moroccon prints that I think would make lovely outfits if paired with a solid flannel peasant top and a vest.

The look would be similar to the Scottish women's garb from the movie "Rob Roy" with Liam Neesan and Jessica Lange. Most practical and comfortable for winter wear and nice enough to wear to town.

I did some research on Victorian/ Edwardian era garments. I found the women used to use and reuse the dress trims and buttons over and over again.
Indeed on several of my estate and garage sale trips I found old sewing baskets with these trims and buttons with bits of old fabric attached to them.

I also found that the women would remake their older clothes to make children's clothes and then into aprons such as you do and finally cut into scrabs to make quilts. The Victorians and Edwardians were very thrifty people.

Thank you for sharing and posting the photos of your outfits, artwork, and patterns. You have inspired us all.

Anonymous said...

The Emperor's New Clothes-I use that example for a lot of things. One of the things I've always thought was strange was when a women say, they can't wait to get home (from work etc) and get into their comfortable jeans. I will never understand that. Jeans are usually made with rather rough material, for starters. Also, the "tight" style of jeans can feel a bit uncomfortable in certain areas, if you ask me. Finally, if you are wearing the current low cut style, with half your bottom hanging out of the top-well you can't tell me THAT'S comfortable?

The only thing I like about pants of any kind is the warmth. I'm someone who feels cold much of the time, even in the summertime. But I'm in a decent climate so I will have to figure out a way to stay warm. I think hats might help.

Anonymous said...

One analogy I thought of. Imagine you are at a wedding, sitting in the pew. The groom is waiting at the front, looking dashing in his black tuxedo. The wedding march begins and everyone rises to watch the bride walk down the aisle. She comes through the door on her fathers' arm. Her attire? A tuxedo that matches the groom's! Ugh! The beauty and majesty of the wedding is ruined. The beauty and mystery of seeing the bride and groom together is wiped out. The bride looks like a "groom wannabe". What a clashing image! THis is what I have been thinking of lately when I think of unisex clothing today, and the thought inspires me to press on in glorifying God thought being a feminine woman.

Anonymous said...

Lady Lydia, the modern idea is to wear light-colored flowered clothing in summer and darker clothing in winter. Is this a skirt you would wear in winter too? I have sometimes wondered what your ideas are on changing colors with the seasons...

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

THis is a heavier fabric, much too warm for summer. For winter, I agree, the deep, jewel colored fabrics of teal, dark green, dark reds, burgundy, deep blues and gold, feel warmer. It makes winter feel exciting and festive.

Anonymous said...

You pose an interesting question about telling the truth about what women wear today. I visit this site often and it has opened my eyes.

I know this is a recession, but when women dress as shabbily as many do, they look very poor, as though they cannot afford even one decent outfit. I really do believe how we dress reflects on our husbands as providers and it is an embarrassment to the entire family when a mother dresses as though she does not have a cent. Even during this recession, anyone can go to a thrift store and find a decent outfit and some sort of coat to cover up in for very little.

I found my husband has a definite preference for me dressing in skirts and dresses. I used to wear jeans and immodest clothing all the time and he never said a word about it. But he never also complimented me then the way he does now. It makes me wonder how many marriages could be saved or improved if only the wife looked and behaved in a more feminine manner.

Anonymous said...

Thank you to the poster who suggested the Butterick pattern. I looked it up online and I can make this skirt with my limited sewing skills. It was a great suggestion.

Anonymous said...

I just returned home from Joann's, having put a vogue pattern#7910 on hold. It is a skirt pattern which is a basic A-line. the pattern goes on sale tomorrow for $3.99.

I looked high and low to find a pattern that might work, as I am a beginner.

Thanks for this skirt information. I was impressed that God orders our steps. He will even guide and give us help when we look to Him in all things, even in what we should wear.

Thank you for posting. I check everyday and am always inspired.

Anonymous said...

I noticed something recently as I went shopping. I clearly noticed that the worse the woman was dressed, the uglier her character was. that just strengthened my resolve to dress in a beautiful way. Funny how clothing can have such an impact on our attitude, or maybe it is vice versa. Either way, it is unbecoming. Here is a skirt I made this summer.

http://pioneerhome.blogspot.com/search/label/Dress

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:15 am. I believe the way we dress does affect our behavior. Try it with children. In my experience, dressing up a child in nice clothes to take them to church or to the symphony, or whatever, affects the way the children behave. You dress them all up and take them out with the grown-ups....they try to act big and well-behaved!

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

I do plan to do sewing tutorials, both free and some for pay. We are still having an extreme home makeover, twenty dollars at a time. That means that the house is constantly torn up, as flooring gets put in a box at a time, and as things get shuffled from one room to another. To be able to do a tutorial requires that I can find a space to do it.

I would like to address the issue of decent clothing. Poverty and Decency is what I will call it. The issue is not poverty but decency. Look at the photographs of people during the depression. Decency required that they be clothed. Today the young marxist/communists screech and cast dust in the air if I even suggest they can cover themselves up and be modest, though poor. They equate poverty with the inability to be polite or modest. You see, they say, they are too poor to wear clothes and too poor to have manners. That doesnt make any sense at all.They successfully equated bad taste and bad manners and immodesty with poverty.. But it was not so, in the old days of the depresssion. Most people standing in line for govt relief were dressed up in the last of the good clothes--their suits and formal wear, hats, gloves, the whole bit. They had clothes--just not money to pay for food. Today, it is a false poverty. It is a snobbery that says "You are a snob if you believe in modesty or decent dress." It is an intolerance of those who teach right from wrong. I will say something about the Victorians. They were called hypocrites, too. The socialists were constantly beating the social niceties and trying to destroy them and break down the family and and the nice things that made it a strong society, and in turn, a strong nation. The Victorian era Did have its share of indecency but they were smart enough to call "naked" naked! They didnt try to fool you like the Emperorers assistants, into thinking you really were dressed when you were not. Some of the painters of the era, though talented in showing the beautiful clothing of the women of the era, also painted nudes, but at least they were honest enough to call it nudity. Today they call it clothing and sell it by the barrelfulls to naive women who call it fashion.

Anonymous said...

Make no mistake: by screeching "poverty" as an excuse to dress down and dress indecently, they are saying they cannot dress well unless the government takes care of them from birth to death. Everything homes in on that, eventually.

Anonymous said...

When my girls and I are out and about, I can't help comparing our clothes to the people around us. We are always the best dressed people there, but we're not overboard. My girls are in colorful skirts, sweet sweaters or velvet jackets over bright shirts, cute scarves and caps and tights. They actually look like they could have stepped out of a Boden catalog.

And every single time I stop to think about it I realize that they are dressed almost entirely from the thrift store, with the odd homemade skirt thrown in. I doubt any of their outfits ever cost more than $10, and they look like a million bucks!

I see the other families, who I know are shopping at the cheap department stores around town, spending $10-15 on each piece of trashy clothing, and I just sigh. There isn't any reason anyone has to dress like that.

Anonymous said...

Lands End has some adorable knit dresses for big and little girls. They are soft and warm with long sleeves. They come in many patterns and colors from florals, to stripes to tiny embroidered animals, snowflakes or ice skates. They are on sale today for $14.99 with a free shipping offer. I have bought two for my daughter and I am buying another today. She wears them with plain leggings and mary jane shoes and socks. She is free to run and play but still looks pretty. These dresses are of high quality and always look good right out of the wash, no ironing needed.

Rachel said...

Oh those are lovely skirts, aren't they? I've wanted one like that for a loooong time.

Where on earth did you get that lovely large-print floral flannel? I've looked all over the place, and everything I can find is either small print, or stripes are included (I'm a new seamstress, and don't want to have to try and deal with stripes if I don't have to).

Simply lovely, ma'am...I look forward to seeing the entire ensemble!

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

The floral flannel came from JoAnnes. WIth a coupon, it cost me about ten dollars for a couple of yards for a skirt. The background is aqua, and if I can match it, will make an aqua blouse with cotton flannel.

Anonymous said...

For the person who was concerned about being warm enough in dresses & skirts in wintertime, tights are wonderfully warm.

Land's End has silk tights and wool tights (although they may be called "pants"). They require the intial investment, but I've worn them (wool tights layered over silk tights) under skirts & dresses for a year straight, and I can't imagine anything warmer or more comfortable.

Hope that helps!

Brava to all you well-dressed ladies.

Anonymous said...

The paintings that you have shared have affected me. The ones of the mothers with children are very, very beautiful. I just can't shake the beauty of them out of my mind.

I want to look like THAT to my children.

Anonymous said...

I just made a princess style dress with the cotton flannel from Joanne's. It is navy with gold thread running through it. There is no raveling and doesn't require ironing. I wore it to a wedding rehearsal dinner and got several compliments. I will definitely make a couple of skirts out of it for the winter.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Victorian waistlines: if you will check Past Patterns or other reproduction pattern companies, you will find patterns, and the way they are designed, emphasises the waist. People have criticised the focus on the waist, but the big emphasis today from designers is the rear end and the bust line, which is more kout-there and in your face than the waistline style ever was. The pioneer women coming out west did not wear fancy clothes, but their styles were still small at the waist and large amount of fabric going over the hips. The waistline was what clearly defined a woman from a man. A woman's waist was smaller than the rest of the trunk of the body. Today teh designs focus on other areas and make a woman's waist appear undefined, with the low cut pants and skirts and the cleavage baring tops. Personally I find more hypocrisy in modern women, who laugh at Victorian styles but wear outrageous feminist styles, including high, high heels, open toed shoes, nothing on their heads in the coldest of weather, no coats, and bare tummies. There is an equal amount of silly style to laugh at today. The styles of the past lasted for hundreds of years, yet the styles today last a decade or two and then off to something more senseless.

Anonymous said...

I am a novice sewer but have made myself a number of skirts (the most expensive being around $10, usually they are about 5-6 but I bought a holiday print to make one for the upcoming Christmas season) and I don't even use a pattern! A year ago I wouldn't have believed I could have such a lovely wardrobe of pretty floral skirts. Just google "gathered skirts" or simple skirts and you will find a number of tutorials that explain how to make a simple gathered skirt. I kind of combined several directions to find a method that suited me. Some of it was trial and error, but I didn't have to discard anything, some of my skirts just are made a little better as I learned what works best. Now I have it down to a science! It is so much fun to sew and choose lovely fabrics as opposed to the awful (and expensive) choices at the mall. One retailer sells skirts very similar to mine for $80!! Who can afford to buy many at that price? And I still like my fabric choices more than theirs :o) Kind regards.

Anonymous said...

A suggestion I found helpful:

I purchased a pattern for ten cents at a garage sale, of a jumper in two styles, one plain, the other with a decorative hem tuck (both are nice). I found a beautiful cotton knit shirt in the Blair catalogue, with rick-rack at the neckline and sleeves. I bought the yellow shirt. Then I went to Joann's and got some very nice royal blue fabric to make the jumper, which has buttons at the shoulders and along the side -- so I splurged a little and bought some adorable daisy buttons (a tad expensive, but they look so nice!) with yellow petals and dark blue centers -- which tied the whole outfit together remarkably well! I love my new outfit!!! So does my daughter. When I have a free minute I hope I can make her something similar (I'm expecting my fifth and am in the very early stages, so I don't feel very much like sewing right now. :-)

This is purposely nice and loose so I'll be able to wear it for some months to come, as well.....a thought for those still in childbearing years so the clothes will be wearable for more advanced stages of pregnancy. A big pleat in the front is a good idea, too.

Not exactly Victorian, but a modest clothing solution. :-)

Anonymous said...

There is a quilting shop in my area that teaches sewing.

Anonymous said...

Answering the query about colors for winter: a quote from a Sottish clothing site, Boden: "Scientific studies conducted by the Boden Institute of Wellbeing have shown that exposure to bold floral prints reduces stress in winter".

Your skirt fabric, above, is warm cotton flannel, which would never do in the hot summer months, but is just right in winter--getting neither too warm indoors, or too cold outdoors. It is the perfect fabric for winter. Go to any grocery store to the floral section and you will see winter flowers available all season. Flowers are appropriate in winter, whether in a vase or on a winter fabric.

For summer: it seems that no matter how thin the fabric, black and navy blues absorb heat and are incredibly hot, while white cottons are absolutely the best for comfort. White synthetics get too hot, and so do dark cottons. The Victorians knew something about this: they thought that white was more appropriate for summer. It would be hard to decide unless you experienced it for yourself , so the best thing to do would be try wearing warmer fabrics in winter, no matter what the color, and cool, whites in summer, or vice versa, and see how it works for you.

Anonymous said...

JoAnn fabric is having an online sale of 50% off one item using promotional code EFD325 through Nov. 21. One cut of fabric is considered one item so now may be a good time to pick something up.
If you sign up for their email, you can get special offers like this sent to you.

Anonymous said...

My husband told me recently that when he first came to the US when he was 16 he had felt disappointed. The women had looked like men. No skirts. It just proves that young men are turned off by modern women. No wonder they turn to each other; there is no lady for them to lay eyes on anymore. Recently we had two people come pick up our trash, and after some hard looking I could see both were women! Can you imagine that? How far have women let themselves down, to become garbage picker-uppers.?

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Re: The Right to Take Out the Trash

Girls, this must be what the women's liberation movement was all about: the right to dress as men and be unrecognizable from females, and the right to take out the trash for the public and be paid for it.

If it was merely the right to take out trash, well women have always taken out the trash, at home . No, there is more to it: it is about money, and it is about being equal or above men, if that is possible.

WOmen who try to be equal to men, or try to be the boss, will gain something, in their eyes, maybe status or money, but they will also lose something; the love and protection of men in society.

Rent the movie "The electric edwardians" , real film footage of the women in the Victorian styles, and see how women mingled freely amongst men, yet looked completely different.

Anonymous said...

Taylor Caldwell's article was right: if women acted like men, men would lose respect for them and have no objection to putting them to work outside the home in menial jobs that made them less feminine.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, the feminist movement seed to promise to lift women up out of the work of the home and child care, and take them to heights sublime in the "working world." They didnt explain that not everyone would get the glamorous jobs, and most women ended up working at drudge jobs, all the while claiming that housework was "drudgery." Those who tried to stem the tide of feminism warned that women would be forced to go to work, under the feminist plan, and many of them claim they are forced to drive a garbage truc and dress like men. Look at women working in any state institution, from a drivers license office to a prison, and you will see them in men's uniform.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Last two anonymouses: I agree: feminism hurt the women who were not even for feminism, in many ways. Women feel they have to work and feel they cannot depend on their husbands, and some do not have husbands who will look after their families or let their wives be home.

Anonymous said...

I just bought the Simplicity skirt pattern and plan on using it for all my long-held fabrics that I've been procrastinating about....thanks Lydia for your inspirations!

Anonymous said...

The one thing that really stood out to me in two of the paintings was that there were groups of women doing womanly things together. I suppose that is what used to happen before they all left for the workforce. I really wish we still have that today. I don't know many women today who do this sort of thing together, in fact I don't know of any. It is very sad.

Anonymous said...

Women in those pictures and paintings were most likely related, as the scenes suggest family situations. Sisters and mothers and grandmothers,daughters, participated in all kinds of home activities, together.

Anonymous said...

Lady Lydia, I love dresses and skirts and always have, even when I was a teenager (over 25 years ago) Something that really bothers me is that I am sometimes the only one at church in a skirt. It is unbelieveable to me what people wear to church and call it Sunday wear. It looks like a contest for "Sexiest Women At Church"!! I think I was born in the wrong era. By the way, when your extreme home makeover is done--may we see pictures?? Thanks for all you do Lady Lydia.

Anonymous said...

I think they trust the descriptions that say "formal," but formal wear has been corrupted to mean "sexy." Women first objected to formal wear, saying it was prom dresses, but being formal to me means dressing with dignity, not showing so much bare skin. Weddings, church, memorials, special occasions in honor of others, requires something that covers a person but does not call too much attention to how sexy they are. I like the Victorian clothing because it was so dignified.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your lovely posts. My daughter and I have been loving them!! I plan on using the Victorian Trading Co's skirt and vest for inspiration for my Christmas outfit. I'm using Simplicity 2533 for the vest and Butterick 5041 for the skirt. I've found some beautiful fabric at Wal Mart for the skirt, and will get the fabric for the vest at JoAnn's after Thanksgiving. Thanks for the inspiration, and for the encouragement that being a lady and looking like one is wonderful!!

Anonymous said...

Lydia, I just love your blog.

Anonymous said...

I was recently at a major department store and while waiting in line I glanced over at the sound of a child and saw a little boy and his mother waiting to have the little boy's picture taken. I suppose the mother had to fuss with the little boy's clothing because she squatted down and what I saw was seen by a few other ladies, too. We saw almost her entire bare backside! Her jeans were so low that when she squatted almost everything came out. I don't think she had panties on either, for where could they have been if they weren't visible? My goodness, I blushed, for both her and myself. I'm hoping my husband didn't see!

The state of clothing is appalling. How things have changed. Another mother related a story to me about her great grandmother who didn't go to church after her children came along because they didn't have the money to suitably dress the entire family for church. So she sent the children to church and stayed home herself. The story made me sad about two things, one that the lady felt too ashamed to go to church in the best clothes she had no matter how humble -- I'm glad that people don't feel so ashamed now-- and two I think people have lost all sense of shame and decency now. I've never seen such appalling things, even in church. I know the youngsters who show up in "trash" claiming it's their best will certainly not wear clothing from the ragbag for prom. Oh no! They'll have dresses and tuxes to be sure. Even if they are lower income and need help getting a prom dress and tux, they could at least go to the same people and ask for some help finding a decent, modest dress and pants for church.

Anonymous said...

When anyone thinks of it, please leave a comment alerting us of the fabric and pattern sales. Get your own brochure sent to you by signing up for it at the store, and you will have your coupons. You can also get them off the web.

To answer the lady who just wrote about the mother bending down to her child....there must be a new trend going on, because I just saw something exactly like it at a bank, only it was not a mother bending over. It was a woman sitting at an office desk, leaning forward. There was a clear view of her entire back side, and no one appreciated it. We dont have such a modern society that people are actually celebrating that sort of thing or applauding it. I blame the designers for foisting a style that does not cover a womans rear end and poses as clothing. Its a style, not clothes. They cannot wear underwear with that style, because it doesn't fit. The clothes are too tight for underwear, and too low to cover it. When the sense of style is based on what they can get off the rack, rather than their own ideas, they will follow whatever is sold, rather than looking for something better.

Shame is a good thing, and is a emotion intended to prevent us from being immodest. The goal of some designs is to remove all shame, and call it style. You've got to be "in" style and it is shame if you are not!! When will it stop? When Americans refuse to buy the slop and start taking charge of their own clothing.

Anonymous said...

There is a great book of history and many photos of the Victorian manner of dress for both ladies and men. It's called, Victorian and Edwardian Fashion: A Photographic Survey.It shows how ladies did many outdoor activities...all in long dresses or skirts....such as hiking on a glacier (!), ice skating, playing tennis and bike-riding. Then the feminist influence seeped in...with one woman in a "trouser-skirt which caused a sensation at the Auteuil races in March 1911". Also a woman showing off her ankles there in 1912. Back in 1911 there was the Women's Freedom League...with a photo of "non-militant suffragists". A large poster behind them reads: DARE TO BE FREE.
Most of the photos in this book are English and some from France. I only wish it had been centered in America,but that is a minor issue, I suppose.
It is just so pleasant to see ladies dressed beautifully, wearing hats and gloves...with long hemlines. Many of the photos were during dress occasions such as balls and parties...but it gives a good view of lady-hood even so.
Pennsylvania

Anonymous said...

it is a good thing the book was centred upon England and France, in many respects, because these two nations would have provided a baseline from which to work; what, with France and England (paris and London, to be exact) the capitals of Western fashion in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and, for the demographic who stood upon this twin foundation - France as a representative of Europe, and England as a representative of the Empire (now the Commonwealth) that included at that time Southern Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and numerous Anglo populations throughout the world. Even today, there is an Anglo population in India who hold two permanent seats in the Indian Parliament. Oh, and Canada - Can't forget Canada! :-)

We are all not from the United States :-)

I am glad non US material is receiving airtime; incidentally, as this blog is read internationally, it would be greatly welcomed if some articles could focus on the UK and Commonwealth, plus other parts of the world where femininity is under attack such as China and the Subcontinent.

Keep up the good work!

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

If you will notice, the paintings are all international, with only a small representation of U.S. artists of the 18th and 19th century.

To read more about the assault on decency in Britain, go to Darlwymple's column, and the liberated ladies in Britain link on the side.

Anonymous said...

About dressing poorly for church:
No one I know would condemn someone for wearing what they had to church because they were too poor. However, what I object to, is people who wear clothing that is INDECENT or at least disrespectful to church, not because they are poor, but because they are can well afford clothes but are following the latest style! Or because Sunday is their "day off" and they want to be "comfortable" in their grungies. That is the real problem. A lot of poor people have clothing that has no holes in it, that covers them up, and sometimes they have a more respectful attitude for the Lord and His worship service, than people who can afford to wear "Sunday best" but won't.
(Those awful scanty, tight, holes-on-purpose clothes can cost a lot, by the way.)

Anonymous said...

My husband always has wanted me to dress up in dresses. I was often reluctant until I came across your blog and realized I am not the only woman who would love to wear dresses. I had just about thought I was! Now I am happily sewing dresses, and when I think about being ashamed about what I wear in public because I might be very different from other women, my husband reminds me that I'm not the one that should be ashamed!

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with the comment that holey, trashy clothing is expensive. One trip to the mall comfirms that. You can find modest clothing at WalMart, even, if you try. For instance, right now they are carrying a line of button down shirts (Lee brand) that are made of cotton, have a regular collar and 3/4 sleeves. They are labeled as "slimming" - probably due to the flattering cut. Any woven shirt like that is going to be more "slimming" than a knit one that shows every bulge even on thin women! These shirts are not expensive and could be worn just about year 'round in many parts of the country. Worn with a simple skirt (easily made or found in a thrift store), stockings and inexpensive flat shoes, you have a modest outfit that looks better than what many wear to church every weekend where I live. They have such shoes at WalMart, and even a basic boot that looks very comfortable for a low price. The argument that one is too poor to dress modestly just does not hold up. And the argument that more expensive equals better quality often does not hold true anymore, either. You can pay a lot for trendy trash made of a synthetic fiber that falls apart on the fourth wash!

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Choosing clothing is a matter of spiritual and moral values, not a matter of money.I grew up very poor, and we were still guided by good sense from our parents, when we picked through the rummage sales of used clothing. You could get anything for ten cents but not all of it was appropriate, even in those days. I learned to love the Victorian style, and could spot it a mile away: pearl buttons, long length and full skirts, pretty colors and fancy fabrics. Poor people do not necessarily glory in looking poor --we tended to look for the things that made us look rich.

Anonymous said...

The article "Sunday's Breast", in the Modesty Matters section, reported an experience a man had , trying to overcome sin. He was invited to a church, and came face to face with more than he expected. You think that at least when you go to church, you can get away from the world and the flaunting of bare rears and frontages, but this man said it looked like women who were more used to being in a bar than being in a church. You can say "at least they are in church," but if, year after year, the reject the principles of modest dressing, and intentionally flaunt their wares in church, they are not getting the message. Has anyone come upon a solution to this? I mean, how do you teach them what is right? My experience has been that if I say anything, they threaten to "quit church." This makes me think there is something very militant about the bare-breast and bare-rear movement.

Anonymous said...

In every church I've ever attended, everyone is very gracious to these bare women. They dont like it but they dont say anything and act like they dont even see it! That is the only way to work with them. The bare ladies only want to be in style. Style is more important to them than modesty. They understand the scriptures in a twisted way. They have spiritual dyslexia, where they get the words mixed up to mean that modesty is just what you want it to be in your mind. What it shows on your body has nothing to do with it because its how you feel about it that counts. Thats their reasoning.

Anonymous said...

The bare-bottomed, bare-breasted ladies are really there to convert YOU to their way of dressing. It is indeed, "militant", as it is a kind of in-your-face immodesty. I wish there were more articles dealing with this.

Anonymous said...

a thought on dressing nicely for church, a few years back in my own church (i was in my early twenties and attended alone,because my family is not religious) i noticed that a lot of girls in their teens to twenties would arrive in teensy short skirts or even jeans (and this was WITH their parents, who obviously saw them walk out the door in that!) i had a very strict 'dress code' for church... skirt (below the knee, very 50s style) dress top or sweater, mary janes, nice thick tights in the winter. my hair is long and curly and i left it down, unless it was a communion day, where it got in the way so i would clip it back. one day after i'd been there for about two months, an older lady (whose husband was an elder in the church) approached me (i always sat by myself) and said 'sweetie, come sit with our family. i just love seeing a young lady who actually LOOKS LIKE a young lady' i sat with that family until i moved away from the area, and they were very kind to me. i'm NOT saying that people are only nice to you if you 'look pretty' but clearly i was giving off a welcoming aire by looking pretty and decent, and it's just contagious! now, i don't wear skirts all the time i admit, but that lesson has stuck with me, and led me to adopt much more modest and feminine dress. and gee, after i made it a point to dress like that everyday, surprise surprise a wonderful, kind, strong young man (not like most i seemed to meet before) happened to notice me... happily ever after anyone? ~S.

Anonymous said...

I would like to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. One thing I am thankful for is this blog and the inspiration it contains.

I am getting ready for Thanksgiving today wearing a home-sewn dress. It took a few tries, but I finished a jumper from New Look pattern 6352. It is made of a purple floral cotton and it is so comfortable! You are right about dresses like this being ideal for homemakers. I don't have a dining room, so I was inspired by your writings to do something to make the dining area of my kitchen nice for Thanksgiving. I decided to make a "Victorian tea room" theme and used things I already owned to accomplish this. It looks lovely and I feel I owe you a debt of gratitude for your inspiration this season.

Anonymous said...

Naturally, clothing attracts people of like-values, and this is why sometimes a really nice Christian girl, who has adopted the wacky clothes of the corrupt designers, attracts the wrong kind of guy (or vice versa---some nice boys want to wear popular styles, and end up ruining their lives with strange girls who do not share their values), and has one heartache after another. Clothing is a surface attraction, and unfortunately, most people do not get a chance to find out what a girl is "really" like and it can harm her by attracting careless people who do not care about her security or her future. There are those who try to change this by insisting that it doesnt matter how you dress, just as long as you are a nice girl, but there is a saying that there is no second chance at a first impression. There are nice men who really want to find nice women, but the clothing is so shocking that they wouldnt dare bring home such a strange looking creature to their mother.Think about this, girls.

Anonymous said...

Lady Lydia, Thank you for all you do and your neat ideas!! I was just given 2 small desks for my grandchildren that they will not be able to pick up for awhile. Instead of just sticking them somewhere, I set them side by side against a wall and placed a tablecloth over them, arranged pictures in frames, a candle with fall leaves around it, and a nice basket of flowers and VIOLA! I have a new table!! :)

Anonymous said...

Dressing immodestly has nothing to do with the cost of clothing. Bare breasts and bare bottoms do not mean a person is poor. It just means they dont have good sense or do not think for themselves but are following a fashion.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Lady Lydia and AWESOME commentors!! Just think how b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l! the world would be if everyone did and dressed their very best! :)

Anonymous said...

I mentioned the mother with jeans issues to a teenager I know and she replied that most likely the woman did have on underwear, but the tight jeans tend to pull the underwear down along with them if one squats down. Apparantly nothing most teens haven't seen these days in school or elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

In my area of the country, there seems to be very little rules or concerns about clothing worn to church.I even heard a man make a comment that it was what was in your heart that God saw and not the outward appearance. I know God sees our heart but we are not to make others stumble by the way we are dressed. I have been to many churches and I haven't seen one yet where this was an important issue--it makes me discouraged at times. I have seen halter-type dresses and tops, tight pants, low-cut clothing and on the other end of dressing--the very sloppy look, t-shirts and baggy, faded jeans and this from women who can afford better and on top of that--women who have been in church for a long time. I was actually talking to my husband about this issue last night because of a trip the church had taken to a water park and the women of the church had on swimsuits, along with several men from the church. Another instance that occured was when we went to another couples house for a group meeting (like a prayer meeting) and the lady of the house was there dressed in her workout shorts and top, (that was what it looked like to me!) Anyway, I just needed to vent I guess because I just don't understand people at times and ministers don't speak about issues like this anymore.

Anonymous said...

The Pastors of these churches should, from behind the pulpit, gently encourage the ladies who are members of their congregations to dress in a way that is modest in order to give glory to God and not distract other worshipers.

If the people have a wicked heart they will not hear, but perhaps there will be those who will be enlightened and will change.

My mother in law said the Priest at her Catholic church admonished the members of his congregation not to wear short dresses or shorts to mass.

The church demanded that they be assigned a new priest. The nerve of him to ask them to appear decent at church!

They would have a real problem with Jesus and Apostle Paul wouldn't they?

Anonymous said...

The attitude about the right to bare cleavage and bare bottoms is most militant. If anyone tries to help these women cover up, they behave in an agressive way, dismissing preachers and ruining the reputation of others by accusing them of a lot of things. Part of the problem too, is a religious movement that does away with any kind of common courtesy, saying it is snobbish to want to dress decently. I understand why a woman would want to dress like everyone else, when she is everywhere else, but why do they insist on wearing the stripper-clothes to a church? Is it to break down everyone's sensibilities or to destroy anything that say something is right or wrong...it is an attack, in my opinion.

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