1860s in fashion

1860s in fashion

1860s fashion in European and European-influenced clothing is characterized by extremely full-skirted women's fashions relying on crinolines and hoops and the emergence of "alternative fashions" under the influence of the Artistic Dress movement.

In men's fashion, the three-piece "ditto" suit of sack coat, waistcoat, and trousers in the same fabric emerged as a novelty.

Women's fashions


By the early 1860s, skirts had reached their ultimate width. After about 1862 the silhouette of the crinoline changed and rather than being bell-shaped it was now flatter at the front and projected out more behind. [http://www.vam.ac.uk/collections/fashion/corset/1830/index.html]

Day dresses featured wide pagoda sleeves worn over undersleeves or engageantes. High necklines with lace or tatted collars or chemisettes completed the demure daytime look.

Evening dresses had low necklines and short sleeves, and were worn with short gloves or lace or crocheted fingerless mitts. Large crinolines were probably reserved for balls, weddings and other special occasions.

Skirts were now assembled of shaped panels, since gathering a straight length of fabric could not provide the width required at the hem without unwanted bulk at the waist; this spelled the end of the brief fashion for border-printed dress fabrics.

Heavy silks in solid colors became fashionable for both day and evening wear, and a skirt might be made with two bodices, one long-sleeved and high necked for afternoon wear and one short-sleeved and low-necked for evening.

As the decade progressed, sleeves narrowed, and the circular hoops of the 1850s decreased in size at the front and sides and increased at the back. Looped up overskirts revealed matching or contrasting underskirts, a look that would reach its ultimate expression the next two decades with the rise of the bustle. Waistlines rose briefly at the end of the decade.

Fashions were adopted more slowly in America than in Europe. It was not uncommon for fashion plates to appear in American women's magazines a year or more after they appeared in Paris or London.


Long coats were impractical with the very full skirts, and the common outer garments were square shawls folded on the diagonal to make a triangle and fitted or unfitted hip-length or knee-length jackets.

Three-quarter-length capes (with or without sleeves) were also worn.

For walking, jackets were accompanied by floor-length skirts that could be looped or drawn up by means of tapes over a shorter petticoat.

Riding habits had fitted jackets with long sleeves, worn over a collared shirt or (more often) chemisette. They were worn with long skirts and mannish top hats.


As skirts became narrower and flatter in front, more emphasis was placed on the waist and hips. A corset was therefore used to help mold the body to the desired shape. This was achieved by making the corsets longer than before, and by constructing them from separate shaped pieces of fabric. To increase rigidity, they were reinforced with many strips of whalebone, cording, or pieces of leather. As well as making corsets more constricting, this heavy structure helped prevent them from riding up, or from wrinkling at the waist. Steam-molding also helped create a curvaceous contour. Developed by Edwin Izod in the late 1860s, the procedure involved placing a corset, wet with starch, on a steam heated copper torso form until it dried into shape. [http://www.vam.ac.uk/collections/fashion/corset/1860/index.html]

Military and political influences

Following a visit by the Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi to England in 1863, the "Garibaldi jacket" or "Garibaldi shirt" became all the rage. These bright red woolen garments featured black embroidery or braid and military details. In America, the early years of the Civil War also saw increased popularity of military-influenced styles such as Zouave jackets. These new styles were worn over a "waist" (blouse) or chemisette and a skirt with a belt at the natural waistline. Women's fashion overall was highly influenced by the reigning Queen Victoria of England.

Rise of "haute couture"

The Englishman Charles Frederick Worth had established his first fashion house in Paris in 1858. He was the first couturier, a dressmaker considered an artist, and his ability to dictate design in the 1860s lead to the dominance of Parisian haute couture for the next hundred years.

Artistic dress

The followers of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and other artistic reformers objected to the elaborately trimmed confections of high fashion with their emphasis on rigid corsets and hoops as both ugly and dishonest. An "anti-fashion" for Artistic dress spread in the 1860s in literary and artistic circles, and remained an undercurrent for the rest of the century. The style was characterised by "medieval" influences such as juliette sleeves, the soft colors of vegetable dyes, narrow skirts, and simple ornamentation with hand embroidery.

Hairstyles and headgear

Hair was worn parted in the middle and smoothed, waved, or poofed over the ears, then braided or "turned up" and pinned into roll or low bun at the back of the neck. Such styling was usually maintained by the use of hair oils and pomades.

Styled hair was often further confined in decorative hairnets (often called "snoods"), especially by younger women. These hairnets were frequently made of very fine material to match the wearer's natural hair color, but occasionally more elaborate versions were made of thin strips of velvet or chenille (sometimes decorated with beads). Whether plain or resplendent, many hairnets were edged with ruchings of ribbon that would serve to adorn the crown of the wearer's head.

Fashion Bonnets for outdoor wear had small brims that revealed the face. Earlier bonnets of the decade had lower brims. However, by mid-century Spoon Bonnets, which featured increasingly high brims and more elaborate trimmings, became the vogue. Other less common variants, such as the Marie Stuart Bonnet, with its heart-shaped brim, and the fanchon bonnet, with its very short brim and back curtain, made appearances in the realm of fashionable headwear.

Bonnets could be made of a variety of materials. Bonnets formed from buckram and wire and covered with fashion fabric were very popular. During the warmer seasons, bonnets made of straw, woven horsehair, or gathered net were also seen. Heavier materials like velvet were favored for winter bonnets, though quilted winter hoods were much more practical and warm.

Trimmings varied according to the changing styles and whims of the individual wearer, but most bonnets of the period followed some general rules with regards to form. Rows of gathered net lining the brim was a fashion carry-over from the decade before, and a decorative curtain (also referred to as a "bavolet") appeared on most bonnets in order to shade the wearer's neck and accommodate for the low hairstyles. Another standard of 1860s bonnets is bonnet ties. There were often two sets, a thin pair of "utility ties" to take the strain of tying the bonnet, and another set of wide ties of silk or another fancy material. These rich ties were tied below the chin in a bow or left untied to show off the beautiful print or material.

Bonnets fell out of fashion over the decade in favor of small hats.

tyle gallery 1860-1864

# from the early 1860s.
# wears a gray striped jacket with turned-back pagoda sleeves trimmed in contrasting fabric and a matching skirt. Her blouse sleeves or engageantes are full over her lower arms, 1861.
# depicts her in a white evening gown with a wide lace collar. Her hair is parted in the center, rolled or "turned up" at the sides, and decorated with flowers.
# fashion plate, showing male and female attire.
# has romantic, vaguely medieval lines with a slight train, and is worn without a corset or hoops. This young girl wears her hair down. 1862.
# in bright red with ball fringe and braid trim is waist length and cutaway in front, 1864.
# of 1864 shows the fashionable braided Zouave-style cutaway jacket worn with a shirtwaist (blouse), skirt, and wide belt. The lady on the right wears a knee-length velvet coat.

tyle gallery 1865-1866

# wears a bronze-colored satin evening dress with bands of trim on the skirt, 1865.
# in evening dress, 1865. The skirt has an overlayer of sheer fabric called "illusion" and is noticeably fuller in back than in front, the first hint of the styles that would prevail in the next decade.
# wears a typical American hairstyle of 1865-66.
# wears her hair in a net or snood. Her hat is tipped forward over her forehead, and is trimmed with ostrich plumes, 1865.
#, 1865.
# wears her hair in a net snood. Her day dress has a pointed waist and slightly puffed, long sleeves, 1866.

tyle gallery 1867-1869

# of 1867 feature short ot hip-length jackets and trailing petticoats for riding sidesaddle.
# wears an outdoor walking costume consisting of a loose jacket and matching skirt. The skirt is drawn up for ease of walking over an ankle-length underskirt or petticoat and hoops. She wears a bowler-like hat wrapped in a scarf or veil. Latter half 1860s.
# of 1869 show a high waist and an elliptical skirt. Draped styles suggest a separate underskirt or petticoat. Jackets are knee-length.
# from the "Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine", 1869, show the beginnings of the bustle: high-waisted skirts are looped up over underskirts. Hats are worn tipped forward over the forehead, and short gloves are worn with long, tight sleeves.

Men's fashion

Men's fashion of the 1860s remained much the same as in the previous decade.

Shirts of linen or cotton featured high upstanding or turnover collars, and neckties grew wider and were tied in a bow or looped into a loose knot and fastened with a stickpin. Heavy padded and fitted frock coats (in French redingotes), now usually single-breasted, were worn for business occasions, over waistcoats or vests with lapels and notched collars. Waistcoats were generally cut straight across the front and had lapels.

The loosely fitted, mid-thigh length "sack coat" continued to slowly displace the frock coat for less-formal business occasions.

The slightly cutaway morning coat was worn for formal day occasions. The most formal evening dress remained a dark tail coat and trousers, with a white cravat; this costume was well on its way to crystallizing into the modern "white tie and tails".

Full-length trousers were worn, generally of a contrasting fabric. Costumes consisting of a coat, waistcoat and trousers of the same fabric (called a "ditto suit") remained a novelty at this time.

Overcoats had wide lapels and deep cuffs, and often featured contrasting velvet collars.

Top hats briefly became the very tall "stovepipe" shape, but a variety of other hat shapes were popular.

tyle gallery

# wears a frock coat over a waistcoat with a low front and lapels. He wears a patterned tie. 1855-65.
# wears a tie secured with a jewel at the neck, a shawl-collared waistcoat, and a contrasting coat, 1860.
# wears an overcoat with black velvet collar, wide lapels, and deep cuffs over a frock coat, waistcoat, and tweed trousers. He wears leather gloves and carries a top hat. c. 1860-65.
# wears an overcoat with very wide lapels, wide cuffs, a contrasting (probably velvet) collar, and braid trim over a frock coat, waiscoat, and trousers which appear to be made of matching fabric. The ends of his large necktie are loosely looped and secured with a stickpin, and then tucked into his waistcoat. 1855-65.
# wears a cravat tied in a floppy bow. His coat has wide lapels and contrasting waistcoat have wide lapels, 1860-65.
# wears a dark necktie tied in a bow and slightly winged collar. German, 1862.
# wears a three-piece suit. His coat is cutaway in front. His waistcoat has no lapels and the front has a slight point on either side at the waist.
# wears a dark double-breasted frock coat over a high-buttoned single-breasted waistcoat and trousers., 1868.::"Note: Photographs from the Library of Congress's Brady-Handy collection are collectively dated 1855-1865. Where possible, tighter dates have been applied based on known facts about the sitters. See Mathew Brady."

Children's fashion

Both boys and girls wore skirts from the time they could walk until they reached age 5 or 6. Very small girls wore their skirts just below knee-length over pantalettes. Skirts were longer as girls grew up until they reached floor length at coming-out (in their later teens). Older girls wore hoops to hold out their skirts. Young girls wore washable pinafores over their dresses for work and play to keep them clean.

Boys wore simple jackets and trousers.

ee also

*Victorian fashion
*Artistic Dress movement


*Arnold, Janet: "Patterns of Fashion 2: Englishwomen's Dresses and Their Construction C.1860-1940", Wace 1966, Macmillan 1972. Revised metric edition, Drama Books 1977. ISBN 0-89676-027-8

*Ashelford, Jane: "The Art of Dress: Clothing and Society 1500-1914", Abrams, 1996. ISBN 0-8109-6317-5

*Goldthorpe, Caroline: "From Queen to Empress: Victorian Dress 1837-1877", Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1988, ISBN 0-87099-535-9

*Johnston, Lucy: "From the Crinoline, to the Crinolette, to the Bustle: 1860-1880", V&A Museum, Collections, Corsets and Crinoline.

*Payne, Blanche: "History of Costume from the Ancient Egyptians to the Twentieth Century", Harper & Row, 1965. No ISBN for this edition; ASIN B0006BMNFS

*Steele, Valerie: "Paris Fashion: A Cultural History", Oxford University Press, 1988; ISBN 0-19-504465-7

*Tozer, Jane, and Sarah Levitt: "Fabric of Society: A Century of People and Their Clothes 1770-1870", Laura Ashley Ltd., 1983; ISBN 0-9508913-0-4

External links

* [http://www.tudorlinks.com/treasury/articles/view185060.html 1850s and 1860s Fashion]
* [http://www.gentlemansemporium.com/1860-victorian-photo-gallery.php 1860s Men's Fashions] - circa 1860 Men's Fashion Photos with Annotations
* [http://www.victorianweb.org/art/costume/nunn7.html Garibaldi jacket]
* [http://www.mirandamusic.com/gothampatterns/cdvwomen.htm Photographs of Women from the American Civil War Period c. 1859-1865] (with notes on costume and hairstyles)
* [http://www.metmuseum.org/works_of_art/collection_database/the_costume_institute/Wedding_Ensemble_/ViewObject.aspx?depNm=the_costume_institute&pID=0&kWd=&OID=80004083&vW=1&Pg=2&St=1&StOd=1&vT=1 1864 Wedding Dress] - Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Fashion in the nineteenth century — See 1795–1820 in fashion 1820s in fashion 1830s in fashion 1840s in fashion 1850s in fashion 1860s in fashion 1870s in fashion 1880s in fashion 1890s in fashion Categories: History of fashionFashion stubs …   Wikipedia

  • 1860s — Events and trendsTechnology* The First Transcontinental Railroad in the USA was completed in 1869. * The Suez Canal in Egypt is opened in 1869.cience* Alfred Nobel creates dynamite in Germany * James Clerk Maxwell publishes his equations that… …   Wikipedia

  • Fashion — For other uses, see Fashion (disambiguation). In Following the Fashion (1794), James Gillray caricatured a figure flattered by the short bodiced gowns then in fashion, contrasting it with an imitator whose figure is not flattered. Fashion, a… …   Wikipedia

  • History of Western fashion — Overview of fashion from The New Student s Reference Work, 1914 …   Wikipedia

  • French fashion — Fashion has been important industry and cultural export of France since the seventeenth century, and modern haute couture originated in Paris in the 1860s. Today, Paris, along with Tokyo, London, Milan, and New York City, is considered one of the …   Wikipedia

  • 1890s in fashion — Fashion in the 1890s in European and European influenced countries is characterized by long elegant lines, tall collars, and the rise of sportswear. Women s fashions Fashionable women s clothing styles shed some of the extravagances of previous… …   Wikipedia

  • 1840s in fashion — 1840s fashion in European and European influenced clothing is characterized by a narrow, natural shoulder line following the exaggerated puffed sleeves of the later 1820s and 1830s. The narrower shoulder was accompanied by a lower waistline for… …   Wikipedia

  • 1850s in fashion — 1850s fashion in European and European influenced clothing is characterized by an increase in the width of women s skirts supported by crinolines or hoops, and the beginnings of dress reform. For men, the introduction of the sack coat as informal …   Wikipedia

  • 1930–1945 in fashion — Actress Mary Pickford with President Herbert Hoover, 1931 The most characteristic North American fashion trend from the 1930s to the end of World War II was attention at the shoulder, with butterfly sleeves and banjo sleeves, and exaggerated… …   Wikipedia

  • 1750–1795 in fashion — Portrait of John and Elizabeth Lloyd Cadwalader and their Daughter Anne by Charles Willson Peale, Philadelphia, 1772 Fashion in the period 1750–1795 in European and European influenced countries reached heights of fantasy and abundant… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.