Friday, April 11, 2014

Distinctive Feminine Dress Outdoors

Summer, by Charles Courtney Curran 1861-1942

by Charles Courtney Curran

Apple Blossoms by Charles Edward Wilson 1854-1941

The clothing of the 1800's and early 1900's, a period commonly referred to as the Victorian era, is so soft and pretty and appealing. It lacks the edgy look of the decades that followed. I believe the principles of this kind of clothing can be used to create feminine fashion today. All you need is to observe the color and line, layers and embellishments, to make clothing today.
I see from the paintings also that the clothing "goes" with the mood and scenes. I have had an instinct for this ever since as a child I saw my first calicoes with the tiny flowers that looked just like a spring forest floor or the tiny strawberry prints so much like the wild strawberries growing in fields. It seems that ladies clothing is created in styles and colors to go with the modern workplace of employment, not the home or garden or all the natural creation. That is one reason so many ladies like to create their own style by sewing. Still, without sewing, pretty, feminine, appropriate clothing for your figure and coloring is a matter of choosing the very best you can buy. You may have to search for it but it can be found.
Also interesting is that the outdoor scenes on the beach, in the meadow or orchard did not require wearing anything that resembled men's attire, or being immodestly dressed.
I am hoping to add some dress patterns and some of my own sketches for ideas of how to Victorianize today's fashions, so there might be more added to this post later, or a new post.



anonymous said...

I never gave it much thought, but I seem to have always worn clothing depicting the weather, nature, mood or season of the year.

On cloudy or stormy days I have a more subdued feeling so would wear more somber tones and clothes that kept me warmer. On bright sunny days depending on how warm it would be, I'd wear brighter, and thinner fabric clothing with shorter sleeves so I could be active out doors or in the garden. In Spring I like to wear prints of flowers in bright cheery colors.
When traveling to the desert I would often wear a soft sand or beige color with accents of sunset colors and blue to depict the blue skies.
Mrs. J.

anonymous said...

To make my clothing look more feminine I chose softer fabrics, added layers, an a-line cut skirt or dress, added sleeves in various lengths, softened the necklines, contoured blouses, tunic tops, added soft ruffles, lace accessories, or prints depicting nature, softened and minimized shoe styles with softer heal treatments.

Mrs. J.

Rightthinker said...

Yes, it didn't matter where women went, or what task they were doing, they were prepared in their feminine and pretty clothing! It was suitable no matter what.

Even in the early 1950's, before the great majority of women bought the lie of feminism, you can see photo's of women largely dressing like women for any task.

I have movie film of my grandmother with her children at Disneyland in the 1950's. Women and girls all had on long feminine and modest (and absolutely beautiful!) dresses and the men had jackets and ties...such a departure from the bikini tops I witnessed a few years ago....

Susan said...

A lot of times when I am walking the streets I imagine everyone dressing in these beautiful clothes. Wouldn't it be lovely to see? My mother taught me to love beautiful fabrics through quilting and she made my dresses when I was a child. Sadly I did not learn to sew clothing because I had more interest in needlecrafts but now I want to learn and it isn't easy to find help, at least not where I live. Any recommendations you might have would be useful. In thrift stores I tend to find skirts and blouses as opposed to dresses, and generally they are in dark, drab colors, so I am trying to add trim and detail to make them feminine. Many items don't fit properly or have an unfitted shape to them, so I am trying to take in the waist and learning how to add darts. Recommendations for an inexpensive portable sewing machine would be helpful. The thrift store machines are in bad shape and I am not sure how to choose a new one. I have been using hand sewing for all the alterations I have been doing. Many times I see yardage at thrift stores but I can't tell if it's all cotton and I am not sure polyester fabric will be comfortable, especially during warm weather. Thank you for addressing this subject. I gratefully welcome any advice you may have and I just love looking at the pictures. I have started a Pinterest board where I am gathering these ideas for future sewing.

Michelle said...

Just a few days ago I was looking at some of your past posts about dresses, sewing and dressing feminine. In today's post, I was especially drawn to the Apple Blossoms painting, because I am still struggling to wear dresses or skirts around our farm more. I'd love to hear your ideas of how to Victorinize patterns/clothes today, so please tell us more.

Blessings to you, Michelle

Lydia said...

In regard to Andreas comment, type in The Feminist Lie for articles on this subject. It is generally a lie that men and women can be absolutely equal, but ends up that feminists become dominant

Katrinka said...

Lydia, I see the shoes of the lady in 'Apple Blossom' peeking out from under her skirt, but not much details. I wonder if you can elaborate on the shoes women wore for everyday back then?

In some of the Jane Austen movies the women seem to be wearing quite sturdy, solid lace-ups with a small heel. It seems the shoes would have provided a lot of support and protection for the feet.

My grandmother wore a lace-up leather shoe with a small heel and slightly tapered toe. They usually had small holes in the top, I suppose for ventilation.

Lydia said...

Type in Victorian shoes and you will see there are many available new today.

SharonR said...

I've wondered about all the undergarments that made the dresses lay the way they did and swish and protect modesty in a wind. (!) I've wondered about wearing as many, or at least a different style than the thin nylon slips available now. What do you know about these old-fashioned slips if they are worn today? I've seen on youtube that there is a new interest in corsettes. You can certainly see in the show, "Larkrise to Candleford" that the women are dressed in costume from the skin out. They are lovely and have such good posture! You never see the ladies on that show in a slump.

Missuz C said...

I enjoy all your posts...but I think your clothing sewing posts are my favorite. I LOVED the series you did on feminine clothing several summers ago. I copied and pasted most of it to my computer...I enjoy re-reading those of these days, I will print them out and bind them for my own Victorian Fashion Magazine! Cant wait to see what sewing adventures you post next.
Blessings! Mrs. C

Joyful Mama said...

Thank you for this post. I agree, the clothing did not have to be like men's clothing when they were outside.

I would like it if you would do a blog, or maybe you have already and I haven't seen it, on maternity clothing. That would be intriguing to see! Thanks.

Lydia said...

New Fabric is so cheap, sometimes a dollar a yard, at Walmart and Joannes that there is no actual thrift in buying it at a thrift stores fabric stores have online and in store coupon that give you half price or less discounts. As a person with a lifetime familiarity of fabric, I would not recommend anything from a thrift store, partly because I have never seen it a truly thrifty price and because you don't know what's in it or where it has been or what it was used for. New fabric is always best and no one need be denied it these days, as cottons are not very expensive, especially in the US.

The same goes for sewing machines. New is always best, especially for a beginner unfamiliar with machines. You don't want to be stopping and fixing it all the time. Walmart has them sometimes under a hundred dollars. I also say the same for is best. In spite of my upbringing of extreme poverty my mother always ordered new clothes for us once a year from wards catalog, as with manufacturing, they were affordable even for the poorest of families.

Graceful Mom, try lilies of the field online for maternity clothing, and also type in victorian maternity clothes online.

Lydia said...

Mrs. j. Some days just feel like a "green sweater" and other days have the color "blue". I call it mood dressing, and many ladies do it.

Unknown said...

When I was a girl we used to play with the Wards, J.C Penney's, Sears and Roebucks catalogues.

We would each have a set dollar amount to spend on an imaginary child. Then we would work within that budget to "buy" clothing for church, work, play, rain or snow, and "going to town". After our selections were made, we would compare "purchases" and see how well we shopped. We chose clothing including undergarments, socks, shoes and boots, etc. It was fun to rest on a hot or stormy summer afternoon in the cool of the house playing this with my cousin and friends.

Back in those more civilized days we wore special clothing for all our activities. I remember dressing up to go shopping or go to town. We wore pretty dresses or suits that were seasonal, with hats, short gloves, and shoes and handbags that complimented what we wore. Our mothers and aunts would check us out from head to toe before we left. Our hair was curled the night before and we wore a nice scent which was also seasonal and appropriate to the occasion. Both our dress and our demeanor and manners must be right before we would leave the house.