The urge to be old-fashioned.

August 9, 2008

It may not be incredibly evident on this blog so far, but I have an immense love of Victoriana and Victorian Clothing.

Some months ago, while visiting my friend Sue who shares this passion for the pretty clothes, at her lovely house in Cornwall, we were rifling through her books and I came across a Trousseau list in Fashions of The Gilded Age – Volume 2 and sat diligently scribbling it down into my notebook:

“Of dresses there are required morning dresses, walking suits, carriage dresses, evening dresses, one traveling dress, one waterproof suit, one very handsome suit to return calls. These dresses may be multiplied in number according to needs and means.

There are certain requisite articles that must be supplied in a certain number, and of a certain similarity in general character and make. They may be set down as follows:

  • Four pairs of corsets, on pair white embroidered, two plain white, and one coloured, the latter to be used in traveling.
  • Twelve chemises, six elaborately trimmed and six plainly made.
  • Six corset covers, three finely finished.
  • Six trimmed skirts and six plain ones.
  • Six flannel skirts, three of them handsomely embroidered.
  • Two Balmoral skirts, one handsome and the other plain.
  • Six fine and six plain nightdresses
  • Four white dressing sacques, two of them flannel.
  • Two looser wrappers of chintz or cashmere.
  • Six sets of linen collars and cuffs for morning wear.
  • Six sets of lace or embroidered collars and cuffs.
  • One dozen plain handkerchiefs, one dozen fine handkerchiefs, and six embroidered or lace trimmed handkerchiefs.
  • One dozen pair of fine thread hose, one dozen of heavy cotton, and on dozen of fine merino.
  • Walking boots, gaiters and slippers of various styles.
  • Two pairs of white kind gloves, two of light and two of dark tints, with others of thread and cloth.”

(Taken from Ladies and Gentlemens Etiquette, 1877)”

The concept of a Trousseau has always intrigued me as has the idea of hope chests and dowry boxes. The thought of making your Trousseau and storing them in a special box appeals to me for some reason. (

Now, before people start getting the wrong idea  I am neither engaged or planning a wedding, but I have been thinking about making some of the items off the list. Not all of them, odviously, as unfortunatly I can’t dress in Victorian clothing everyday – its not particularly practical for doing the hoovering in, for example but perfect for sitting and knitting or sewing in for example, and generally feeling pretty! And who doesn’t want to feel pretty and feminine?

I’m working on a pared down version of the list and will keep you updated as this sewing project progresses.

I’m off to count the pennies in the piggy bank for fabric!


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