The feel of fashion |

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The feel of fashion

Learn about the clothing worn by your mid-Victorian ancestors as dress historian Jayne Shrimpton explores the fashions of the past


Part 2: 1850s - 1870s

This fashion plate from February 1877 shows cuirass or ‘Princess’ line costumes of the era, fashioned in the bright pinks, mauves and golds that some found ‘sickly’

Fashion and dress mirror the times in which we live, perhaps never more so than in the Victorian Britain of our ancestors, a kaleidoscopic world of empire and travel, industrial and technological progress and social and economic change.

Work & play; communication & mechanisation

Mid-Victorian dress expressed vividly the acceleration and expansion of daily existence for many within the working and rising middle classes. City populations grew and became more established, mechanisation speeded up many traditional tasks and life seemed to move increasingly quickly.

With more white-collar occupations determined by the business day, a marked distinction developed between working hours and leisure time and, for the fortunate, hearth and home came to represent a haven of peace and relaxation. New opportunities were also arising for recreational activities, including sports and touring the countryside. Travel for most was becoming easier, with more affordable train fares and advancing railway networks that connected villages to urban centres, seaside resorts and the wider world. The varied requirements of industrial or business work wear and casual weekend and holiday clothes prompted new fashions, including lightweight summer clothes and walking dress.

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There's something undeniably special about visiting our ancestors' final resting places. Read the guide in the latest issue of Family Tree about graveyards and we will help you step back in time. Graveyards and cemeteries are a very real reminder of earlier generations and visiting them will not only spark thought-provoking memories - they may also provide you with new clues and details... And speaking of 'new clues' - don't miss our brand new series 'Taken a DNA test? Now what?'. This is the advice you need if you want to get the most from your DNA test. Discover how to make sense of the results, find more details and grow that fabulous family tree of yours! Join in with the DNA adventure today! We also have a fabulous free guide for you in this bumper issue, Heritage Days Out, packed full of ideas for family and local history trips to take this summer. Enjoy your travels through time!