Fashion: Victorian Era and Higher Class Women

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During the Victorian Era of 1850-1900, women’s fashion became intricate, painful, and also dangerous. The women of this age dressed in this manner in order to show status and beauty. The men, whom were responsible for designing this dress and garment wanted to increase their control of women both mentally and physically. In order to achieve the ideal wasp waist, these women practiced tight-lacing and put on many layers of clothes every day. Victorian Fashion became one of the main causes for health issues in women due to its constricting nature. Unfortunately at this time, both women and men were unaware of these risks of extreme fashion. The following pages will detail this trend’s complexity, laboriousness, and oppressive nature to women during this time period. Victorian fashion emphasized the ideal woman and shape from the eyes of the male designers. The clothing required to achieve this shape included a corset, a lingerie dress known as a chemise, crotch-less underwear to allow the wearer to go to the bathroom, a wire caged skirt, stacks of petticoats, and a bodice which is similar to a vest. The most detrimental garnment to women’s health during this era was the corset. The Victorian era was not the origin of the idea of it but it was the dawn of the name corset for the structure and tight-lacing. The lacing of the corsets was tight enough so that the wearer could just barely breathe. Many young girls who were laced into corsets had a waist measurement smaller than even 18 inches. Added layers of crinoline, a wire frame, and heavy layers of silk and velvet, caused these gowns to weigh over fourteen pounds and measure up to four meters in circumference. These garments caused difficulty in breathing and child bearing, yet women were pressured or forced into them in order to feel as if they were beautiful and belonged. Historians have found several links to disease and health conflicts of the Victorian woman due to the wearing of the corset. Miscarriages...
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