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“The Language of the Fan”: Pushing the Boundaries of Middle-class Womanhood

Ariel Beaujot

Source: Victorian Fashion Accessories 2012

Book chapter

In the nineteenth century the British tried to revive the art of fanmaking in part in order to address what Victorians had come to call the “surplus women question.” This debate, which centered around definitions of what type of woman a middle-class lady should be and what her place should be within society, came to the fore because of statistics revealed by the 1851 Census. Victorians exaggerated the census data in order to emphasize the seriousness of having a population of women who had no pla

Narratives are a way for human beings of the past and present to understand their experiences and guide their actions.Somers, “The Narrative Constitution of Identity,” 613–14. An important metanarrative of Victorian society was the advent of democracy and constitutional government. Every British school child of the nineteenth century knew the progressive narrative of the rise of parliamentary democracy beginning with the Magna Carta, passing through the “Glorious Revolution,” and ending with the

“The Real Thing”: The Celluloid Vanity Set and the Search for Authenticity

Ariel Beaujot

Source: Victorian Fashion Accessories 2012

Book chapter

By the end of the nineteenth century it was generally understood that the elephant population was in serious crisis because of the ivory trade.R. F.du Toit, S. N.Stuart, and D.H.M.Cumming, African Elephants and Rhinos: Sattus Survey and Conservation Action Plan (Gland, Switzerland: Nature Conservation Bureau, 1990), 3. Between 1800 and 1850 ivory imports into the United Kingdom increased from 119 tons to 458 tons.AbdulSheriff, Slaves, Spices and Ivory in Zanzibar: Integration of an East African C

Conclusion

Ariel Beaujot

Source: Victorian Fashion Accessories 2012

Book chapter

Introduction

Ariel Beaujot

Source: Victorian Fashion Accessories 2012

Book chapter

In order to write this book, I had to think about who the middle class were, and what people who identified themselves as “middle class” thought they had in common. These questions, that seem simple at first, turned out to be quite complex. The middle class was a very diverse grouping in the nineteenth century. It was both an economic classification and an imaginary social category. It included people ranging from the ill-paid spinsters, who made a meager salary designing fashionable objects, to

“The Beauty of Her Hands”: The Glove and the Making of Middle-class Womanhood

Ariel Beaujot

Source: Victorian Fashion Accessories 2012

Book chapter

Victorians considered it improper for a woman to appear in public without her gloves and women of the middle and upper classes were encouraged to put on their gloves before crossing the threshold into the street. Women wore gloves in church, at the theater, on promenade, to dances, while shopping, and even to dinner parties hosted in other people’s homes.Anon., Etiquette for All; or, Rules of Conduct for Every Circumstance in Life: With the Laws, Rules, Precepts, and Practices of Good Society (Gl

Introduction: ‘Sartor Resartus’ Restored: Dress Studies in Carlylean Perspective

William J.F. Keenan

Source: Dressed to Impress. Looking the Part 2011

Book chapter

Clothes, as despicable as we think them, are so unspeakably significant.

The Jewelry Industry

Carol Anne Dickson

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. The United States and Canada 2010

Encyclopedia entry

From early times, men and women have sought to adorn themselves. The desire to adorn the body answered several needs: communication of identity, including status and kinship, as well as symbols of protection and spiritual beliefs. The desire to express beliefs, status, and affiliations grew as the number of family members grew and the number of families who formed groups expanded. It is certain that jewelry antedates clothing. Whether it was worn for artistic display or utility, we do not know fo

Historically-Inspired Bridal Wear from the Nineteenth to the Twenty-First Centuries

Lydia Edwards

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Global Perspectives 2010

Encyclopedia entry

This article considers the influence of historical styles on bridal wear, a common trend in design from the nineteenth century through to the twenty-first. It considers the extent to which details of historical design have been—and still are—incorporated into wedding dresses and, chiefly, the reasons behind doing so. This will be explored through several examples showing either overt or subtle references to a particular historical timeframe, considering the choice of the bride and the psychology

The Novel and Dress

Clair Hughes

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. West Europe 2010

Encyclopedia entry

The stories of Beatrix Potter would have no plots, someone remarked, if the animals had no clothes. This cannot be said of fictional characters in general, but all the same, authors do not usually send their characters naked into the world—dress can play a surprisingly important role in their narratives. The clothes described and illustrated by Potter anchor her animals to a workaday rural society. They bridge the gap between nineteenth-century reality and Potter’s version of it: a miniature worl

Steampunk

Sandra J. Ley

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Global Perspectives 2010

Encyclopedia entry

In the late 1980s, a literary subgenre emerged from science fiction and fantasy. Set in an alternate history of the nineteenth century, this subgenre is described as steampunk, a term coined in 1987 by author K. W. Jeter as a tongue-in-cheek analogy with cyberpunk. Both literary genres turn out cautionary tales of the perils of technology in the hands of the unscrupulous. Yet while cyberpunk looks with trepidation toward a dystopian future dominated by advanced technology, steampunk looks backwar

Femininity and Consumption: The Problem of the Late Nineteenth-Century Fashion Journal

Christopher Breward

Source: Classic and Modern Writings on Fashion 2nd Edition 2009

Book chapter

By 1875 the women's magazine industry was well established. Having rejected the more literary and élitist model of late eighteenth-century feminine literature, nineteenth-century publishers turned to new forms ‘designed solely to entertain, being composed of fiction, fashion and miscellaneous reading of a superficial kind’.C.White, Women's Magazines 1693–1968, London, 1970. An accompanying boost in production and circulation figures is seen by publishing historiansM.Harris & A.Lee (eds.), The Pre

Sex and the City: Metropolitan Modernities in English History

Margot Finn

Source: Classic and Modern Writings on Fashion 2nd Edition 2009

Book chapter

Cheap Mass-Produced Men's Clothing in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries

Sarah Levitt

Source: Classic and Modern Writings on Fashion 2nd Edition 2009

Book chapter

The clothing of the working people, in the majority of cases, is in a very bad condition. The material used for it is not of the best adapted. Wool and linen have almost vanished from the wardrobe of both sexes, and cotton has taken their place. Shirts are made of bleached or coloured cotton goods; the dresses of the women are chiefly of cotton print goods, and woollen petticoats are rarely seen on the washline. The men wear chiefly trousers of fustian or other heavy cotton goods, and jackets or

‘A Dream of Fair Women’: Revival Dress and the Formation of Late Victorian Images of Femininity

Margaret Maynard

Source: Classic and Modern Writings on Fashion 2nd Edition 2009

Book chapter

He shares with Reynolds and Gainsborough the good fortune of having kept alive for us a society of which the fascination is enduring – that limited and privileged society of the eighteenth century, which had realised such a perfect art of living, and with which we can clasp hands across the gulf, as we cannot with the men and women of Charles the Second's time, or even of Queen Anne's.T. H.Ward and W.Roberts, Romney: A Biographical and Critical Essay, London, 1904, vol. 1, p. 78.

Invisible Clothing

Philippe Perrot

Source: Classic and Modern Writings on Fashion 2nd Edition 2009

Book chapter

Many maladies are caused by … corsets. Thin bodies, narrow shoulders. Out of four two are bones of some promise; one, bones which promise nothing; a fourth go to Nice with the consumption; another fourth will at twenty-six drag out six days of the seven in an invalid's chair.

The Exquisite Slave: The Role of Clothes in the Making of the Victorian Woman

Helene E. Roberts

Source: Classic and Modern Writings on Fashion 2nd Edition 2009

Book chapter

I went and ordered a pair of stays, made very strong and filled with stiff bone, measuring only fourteen inches round the waist. These, with the assistance of my maid, I put on, and managed to lace my waist to eighteen inches. At night I slept in my corset without loosing the lace in the least. The next day my maid got my waist to seventeen inches, and so on, an inch every day, until she got them to meet. I wore them regularly without ever taking them off, having them tightened afresh every day,

Wool Cloth and Gender: The Use of Woollen Cloth in Women's Dress in Britain, 1865–85

Lou Taylor

Source: Classic and Modern Writings on Fashion 2nd Edition 2009

Book chapter

This study examines the design development of heavyweight woollen fashion fabric used in the new tailored outdoor garments for middle- and upper-class women's wear in Britain in the 1865–85 period.

The Love of Finery: Fashion and the Fallen Woman in Nineteenth-Century Social Discourse

Mariana Valverde

Source: Classic and Modern Writings on Fashion 2nd Edition 2009

Book chapter

Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress…. Young women of such birth, living in a quiet country-house, and attending a village church hardly larger than a parlour, naturally regarded frippery as the ambition of a huckster's daughter.

Corsetry and Invisibility of Maternal Body

Leigh Summers

Source: Bound to Please. A History of the Victorian Corset 2001

Book chapter

One of the strongest reasons for the adoption of the corset, though it is not commonly avowed, is the belief that it conduces beauty and symmetry of figure. Slender forms are usually praised, and chiefly because they are associated with the litheness and undeveloped graces of youth.Gould-WoolsonAbba, Dress Reform: A Series of Lectures Delivered in Boston, On Dress As It Affects The Health of Women, Robert Brothers, Boston, 1874, p. 208.

The Child, the Corset, and the Construction of Female Sexuality

Leigh Summers

Source: Bound to Please. A History of the Victorian Corset 2001

Book chapter

endured sullenly the row that ensued when my soft-shelled condition was discovered; was forcibly re-corseted; and as soon as possible went away and took them off again. One of my governesses used to weep over my wickedness in this respect. I had a bad figure and to me they were instruments of torture; they prevented me from breathing, and dug deep holes into my softer parts on every side. I am sure no hair shirt could have been worse to me.Ibid. G. Raverat, Period Piece, Faber & Faber, London, 19

Corsetry and the Reality of ‘Female Complaints’

Leigh Summers

Source: Bound to Please. A History of the Victorian Corset 2001

Book chapter

many volumes had been written on the subject of tight lacing [and though it had been] howled about from platforms and in all the virtuous magazines . . . the fact is the woman who affects loose garments is lazy and violates all the rules of good dressing . . . Nature ‘demands’ that women should have small waists, and the misery and harm . . . inflicted by the over use of corsets is only a blind, ignorant obedience to an instinct, which properly directed is graceful and natural.Dr Hunt, cited in M

Not in That Corset: Gender, Gymnastics, and the Cultivation of the Late Nineteenth-Century Female Body

Leigh Summers

Source: Bound to Please. A History of the Victorian Corset 2001

Book chapter

Burn the corsets! . . . No, nor do you save the whalebones, you will never need whalebones again. Make a bonfire of the cruel steels that have lorded it over your thorax and abdomen for so many years and heave a sigh of relief, for your emancipation I assure you, from this moment has begun.Ibid. Phelps, What To Wear?, Sampson, Low, et al., London, 1874, p. 66.

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