1870s Fashion

Mrs Moylan 1875 Canada Victorian portrait

Historical fashion has always been a huge inspiration to what I design for Gloomth. Even the word “gloomth” is a forgotten Victorian term. One of my favorite things is to spend an hour pawing through historical archives or antique photo albums, glimpsing into the lives of people who lived long before me. I though I’d share some 1870s portraits featuring especially good outfits here today, help inspire some spring and summer outfits perhaps. 😉

All the photos in this post are from about 1872 to 1880 in Canada. Above is Mrs. Moylan, taken in 1875. I love her detailed draped cross pendant and ruffled sleeves.

mrs baker 1800s canada fashion victorian

\1875 canada

The 1870s-80s were a time of change in women’s fashion, the recent industrial revolution allowed for a whole new class of wealthy individuals who could afford to own many outfits (and the industry to produce them in large quantities now existed). No longer was class solely based on lineage and land ownership, and these new wealthy folks longed to express their position through fashion.

Women mainly wore two-piece outfits with a bodice/jacket and a skirt. During the day they often wore a simpler “day bodice” which was fitted to the waist, had long tapered sleeves, and usually buttoned down the front (shown above, both examples from 1875). Often skirts were worn over a bustle at the back and a crinoline (shown in the example below, 1873). Evening bodices were usually worn off the shoulder and more ornate than those worn during the day.

bustle victorian 1873

mrs coffin canada 1800s

All of the photos in this post are from formal portrait studios, it wasn’t common for folks to have snapshots or unposed photos at this time as photography was still very expensive and exposures quite long.

Day bodices were often layered over a lace frill or chemise in white or cream for some contrast. Shown below are a couple examples featuring those. The top one is from 1872 and the bottom from 1874.

1872 victorian canada fashion

victorian 1874 fashion canada

Below are three examples of formal styles from this era! Including an absolutely stunning wedding dress dripping in sheer white layers and tiny flowers and a very ornate circus ensemble complete with whip!

victorian wedding dress

1800s fashion canada

victorian wedding dress

Canada was still a fledgling country with Queen Victoria as our head of state at the time of these photos, Confederation had only been signed in 1867 (barely a decade before).


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