Fashion Design ยป Victorian Fashion History

Victorian Clothes And The New Media Era

These days with our web 2.0 websites and endless flows of information we tend to think of ourselves as being in the information era, or the era of new media. Interestingly our fascination with Victorian clothes and our plentiful knowledge of them could be seen as a result of a different information age.

The industrial revolution which started in the late 18th and early 19th centuries was in full swing by the time period we think of as the Victorian era. The result of this era of technological innovation is more plentiful textiles, the growth of cities, and with modern conveniences the time for yet more technological innovation. Two technological innovations of the time stand out in my mind.

The first technological advance is photography. The era of photograph was begun in 1827, and the process continued improving throughout the century. Fashions which could have been drawn by hand to be shared now were capable of being photographed and shared more quickly. Also, fashions that might have been occasionally captured in drawings in earlier centuries were now being captured in photographs - whether wealthy patrons requesting portraits or photographers capturing the scene about them. The advent of photography deepened our visual history of a time period. Perhaps the advent of consumer video, digital photography and places to share them will be looked upon in future generations in much the same way.

The second, the advance of communication technologies the telegraph in 1832 and wireless technologies greatly advanced the speed with which information could be transferred. Now not only could sights be shared through photography but information could be shared over long distances through telegraphy. A style in London or Paris could soon be known elsewhere.

Yes, there are recreations of clothing from eras other than the Victorian Era, but we see far more echoes of the styles of the Victorian era in current fashion and fascinations than in the times that came before. We see Victorian clothes in the Gothic Lolita fashion from Japan, and we see elements of Victorian details in ball gowns. In our houses options in styling include Victorian bric-a-brac and stylized furniture - including the claw foot tub in the bathroom. And even in our technological creative endeavors along side cyberpunk we have steampunk which is set in the Victorian Era. Steampunk creations, both real and fictional, have taken liberally from the style and technologies of the Victorian Era.

So while Renaissance Faires and re-creation have their place, and the Lindsey Hop has its day, in some ways it is the Victorian Era that most closely mirrors our time where innovation and changes in communication happen daily. And thus Victorian clothes, and the era in general, hold a place of fascination for many.

Goldie Katsu is a technology expert and costuming and history lover. More of her writing about Victorian Clothes can be found at