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Victorian Dresses of the 1870s

on September 5, 2010 – 8:24 am

The skirts of the Victorian dress of the 1870s were inordinately long and were tied back tightly, giving the appearance of swathing the figure in front. These backward-drawn draperies were accentuated by the little “coat-tail” effect of the bodice, or by sash ends, tied in large bows, which appeared to hold up a vast puff of drapery. The sleeves were fit closely to the arm, with cuffs and buttons.

One popular fashion design was the  robe a la polonaise, which had almost an eighteenth-century flavor with its closely fitted bodice and looped-up skirt (frequently held by large bows of rich ribbon with hanging ends) over a contrasting underskirt giving an effect not unlike the pannier dresses of the eighteenth century.

The robe a la Princesse, named after the beautiful Alexandra, Princess of Wales, with its slim waist at the natural level and slender flowing lines, was another example of the suavity and grace of the 1870s silhouette, as contrasted with the extravagances of the crinoline. The Princesse robe, strictly speaking, was cut without any seam at the waist, and molded the figure from neck to hip, where it flowed on in sweeping draperies. The influence of this style was so strong that even when a dress was made with a separate bodice and skirt the line remained essentially the same, with its smoothly fitted sweep from shoulder to hip, no matter how elaborate the drapings of the skirt might be. Victorian dresses, corsets, hats, purses, parasols, shoes – all you need to dress Victorian – can be found at www.victoriana.com.