Monday, June 26, 2006

Victorian Ladies' Outerwear

I've already talked about what men of the 1860s wore over their clothing in cold or inclement weather, but what did the ladies wear?
Women's outerwear consisted of capes, cloaks and coats, as well as shawls and scarves.
Capes were cut full to drape over the dress. They could be as short as hip length or extend to about six inches from the hem of the dress. Some had arm slits. Capes were constructed of solid wool fabrics. Some had hoods.
Cloaks also had no sleeves, but because they were cut shorter at the sides, they allowed for full movement of the arms. They paralleled the line of the dress and were often trimmed, sometimes with fringe if it was a fashionable cloak. Cloaks were constructed much like a poncho, and made of warm woolen fabrics that buttoned down the front. Cloaks could also have a hood. Fashion cloaks could be made of fabric or silk and were left unbuttoned to expose the dress beneath.
Unlike capes and cloaks, coats had sleeves. They also followed the line of the dress being cut full on the bottom. Like capes, they could be anywhere from hip length to six inches above the dress hem. Most coats were made of wool. Some had exaggerated sleeves.
All of these garments could also be constructed of fur for extra warmth.
Shawls and scarves could be worn inside or out, depending on the weather. Scarves would also be worn with coats. Although scarves weren't especially popular during the period, they were still worn. Shawls, though, were widely popular.
Scarves were made of a variety of fabrics. Shawls could be knitted of wool yarn or made from large squares of fabric. They could be fringed or not. Lace shawls were also popular. These were worn as accessories to fashionable dresses.
Source: Who Wore What? Women's Wear 1861-1865 by Juanita Leisch
Thomas Publications 1995 ISBN 0-939631-81-4


Anonymous said...

Best quality of outerwear at reasonable price I found at Brooks Brothers store through

Anonymous said...

I love capes! You should take a look at Ellsworth & Ivey, they make the most incredible capes with monogramed labels! I LOVE THEM!