The Rise of the Industrial Revolution

Week 8:

The Rise of the Industrial RevolutionStep 1:

Read the online "lecture" on dress in the Industrial Revolution below and click on any links that interest you. You are not required to read all the material on all the links, however:

Dress in The Rise of the

Industrial Revolution

Clothing from 1825-1850

Industrial RevolutionThe "Romantic" Period

The trend towards sexual dimorphism in dress reaches an absurd apex in this period. Men's fashion becomes a series of undecorated black tubes, like the smoke stacks of the The Industrial Revolution (an analogy they were even conscious of at the time), while women's dress continues to balloon out with ruffles, decorations and petticoats until women look like ambulatory wedding cakes.



Fashion Plates from Le Folliet c.1839-1840

Both men's and women's dress becomes more complex during this era due to the invention of the , and the popular dissemination of pattern books and systems for garment cutting. Men's clothing construction, while outwardly simple, begins to acquire the internal padding, interfacings and complex structure that makes modern men's suits fall so smoothly even over an object as lumpy and mobile as the human form.

VictorianTechnologySewmachine.jpg early Hand crank sewing machine

Elias Howe, the inventor of the first mass produced, practical

sewing machine, originally demonstrated it's utility to a group of prospective investors by holding a sewing race between himself and his machine, and ten professional hand stitchers. He easily won, and the economic situation of stitchers (mostly female) declined as a consequence of the adoption of the invention. With a sewing machine, a stitcher could produce ten times the output as before, with greater quality, but the stitcher rarely could afford the machine, and with so many stitchers out of work, stitchers were easily replaceable. Industrialists would invest in the machines, hire the stitchers cheaply, and then swallow the profits that their increased output produced. With profits so high, soon competition between manufacturers of clothes got fierce, and so producers tried to "improve" their product by adding more sewing decoration, such as ruffles, pleats, and top stitching, to lure customers. The end result was that fashionable Women's dress became incredibly over decorated in the 19th Century.

the_seamstress.htm@160x120.jpg The Seamstresses

joan800.asp@160x120.jpg Vintage Fabric - A History of Sweatshops

index.htm@160x120.jpg American history sweatshop exhibition

Another result of this increased output in clothing manufacture was that poor people's clothing got better, and the rags of earlier eras were replaced by cheaply made mass manufactured work clothes. The middle classes were able to afford more than clean simple clothes, and began to actively indulge in fashion for it's own sake.

VictorianDo not copyLastofengland.jpg "The Last of England" by Ford Maddox Brown, showing the dress of poor English people as they emigrate to Australia.

Fashionable women's dress grew more and more cumbersome and impractical during the 1830's and 1840's. The visual line of 1840's gowns, hats and headdress all point down, and the eyes of women depicted in fashion plates are demurely cast to the floor. The increasing size of the skirts, held out only with voluminous and usually unsanitary crinoline (horsehair canvas) petticoats, made the weight of the skirts oppressive, and movement awkward. Tight laced of a waist-cinching style, pinched the waist without providing the back supporting properties of corsets of other eras.

This is the time of the tortured and victimized Bronte heroines, not to mention the tortured and victimized themselves. The 1840's proved such a low point for women in Western history, that the worm finally turned, and women began to organize and agitate for the vote,

dress reform, and the right to enter schools and professions closed to them.


The Era of the Hoop

VictorianWomenVisblehoop1850.gif Illustration from Punch, 1857, showing the complete understructure of a fashionable woman's wardrobe.

An American suffragist and reformer, Amelia Bloomer led the forefront of dress reform in the 1850's propagating what became known as The Bloomer Costume (originally designed by Elizabeth Smith Miller), a very modest ensemble consisting of a knee length gown worn over demure Turkish trousers. It is a measure of how severely cumbersome and repressed mid-19th Century Western women's clothes were that a garment worn by conservative Moslem women was so comparatively freeing in style that it actively shocked most contemporary observers.

VictorianWomenBloomerlady.jpg1851, Mrs. Bloomer in the costume she wore as a response to the restrictive petticoats of the 1840's-50's.

bloomers_nn4.html@160x120.jpg Elizabeth Smith Miller: bloomers

Only a small percentage of the female population ever wore The Bloomer Costume, but periodic attempts at dress reform continued throughout the rest of the 19th Century, exerting a growing influence on fashionable dress.

HistoryKohler520and521 1860.jpg The Crinoline (hoop petticoat), c.1860 from Karl Kohler's Kostumewerk

Fashionable women enjoyed a slight dress "reform" of their own in the 1850's by the adoption of the Hoop Skirt. The hoop (or Crinoline as it was named after the former petticoats of horsehair), liberated women of the weighty, hot unsanitary bulk of petticoats, and gave free movement to the legs.

The tendency of the hoop to flip up showing the legs, also required women adopt a version of the bloomer trousers as underwear. The earliest hoops were rigid iron that had a tendency to thwack the unhooped sex in the shins. As a consequence, when added to the horror of seeing one's female dependents wearing (oh!) bifurcated garments beneath the hoop, men were appalled, and tried to put a stop to the fashion by decrying them from newspapers and the pulpit, ridiculing them in song and poetic lampoon, and mercilessly caricaturing them in cartoons.

FashionplatesAcarterPetitlogo.jpgSecond Empire Fashion plates from

Petit Courier des Dames 1852-5 provided by Acarter of eBay

The benefits of the hoop for the wearers, however, insured that women defied disapproving fathers and husbands in droves, and iron quickly gave way to more forgiving spring steel wire, which made larger and larger skirt foundations light enough to be possible.

Women's dress in the era 1850-65 gets progressively larger and more horizontal in outline. Gone are all the lines pointing down, and women in fashion illustrations get a slightly more assertive look in their expressions, more often looking out at the viewer at eye level.

HistoryAquariangalleryGodeyfeb65.jpg1865. Images courtesy of

By 1860, the hoop itself was so large and awkward it was in itself oppressive. The shape of the hoop began to become ovoid, with the bulk of the skirt trailing behind the wearer. In 1866 the size of the hoop began to diminish somewhat, and the ovoid trend continued, slowly turning, by 1870, into what they called the Tornure or Bustle. The result was to give the female figure a forward leaning stance, rather like the prow of a ship.

Men's dress in this era continued the trend towards decreased individuality of style, crossed with increased technical perfection of manufacture.

HistoryKohler505 1855.jpg Man in frock coat with plaid vest, 1855. from Karl Kohler's Kostumewerk

Facial hair gained in popularity in the 1850's, 60's and 70's, not really going out of fashion until after 1900, and then only gradually.

HistoryKohler512.jpg Pianist A. Thalberg in an overcoat and vest, 1860's from Karl Kohler's Kostumewerk

Men's dress found the form that it has held in modified form to this day in this era, formalizing the suit into a uniform worn by men in all strata of income in varying degrees of quality.

Step 2:By now you have access to your study garment. As a preliminary step, write a short description of your garment, and why you choose it and post it to the CostumeHistoryClass@160x120.jpg Message Board


To help in your description:Step 3:Because of the tremendously increased industrial output of this period, fancy clothing items and fashion information (magazines, plates, etc.) become commonly available. This means that tremendous amounts of both information and garments survive from this era, and those hereafter. At any given week on eBay Auctions

hundreds of fashion items of the Victorian era and after are bought and sold.

Go to eBay

and do a search on items similar to your study garment. See if you can find other surviving examples, patterns, illustrations, or anything that might have been be worn with the garment in it's day: For example, if you have a Victorian mourning bodice, see if you can find other mourning items of the era, any fashion plates of mourning, or items that look like yours, if you have a 1968 "Mod" pantsuit, see if the used pattern section has patterns like your garment, and accessories that might have been worn with such an outfit.

Step 4:

Write a short report on the auctions you find in your topic. How many good items are there? What prices are common once the auctions are completed for such items? Are auction items always labeled correctly? What have you learned from seeing the pictures online? Briefly answer these questions in your report and include links to auction pages that illustrate your points. Post your report with links on a page on your site by this weekend.

Good suggestion to help your final project:

Write to an eBay

dealer of one or more of the items you've found and ask for permission to use the pictures from the auction on your page. After obtaining permission, insert these photos into a page of your web site, giving photo credit to the dealer.

This Concludes Week #8's Lesson

Return to

Class Index

WomenFashionplates1833.jpg 1833


WomenFashionplates1846men2.jpg 1846


HistoryAquariangalleryC1850plate.jpg Fashion Plates c.1845-50 Images courtesy of


FashionplatesRaveonline4467b.jpg Fashion plates of the 1840's provided by RaveOnline

HistoryAquariangalleryLucystone1853.jpg 1853 portrait of Suffragist and Reformer Lucy Stone as she appeared giving a lecture in a "bloomer" suit. Image courtesy of

VictorianWomenHoop154.jpg Hoopskirt of steel wire and webbing worn in Philadelphia in 1855.


WomenFashionplatesPetersons1850sd.jpg 1851

WomenFashionplatesLesmodes1853b.jpg 1853


WomenFashionplatesGrahamsapril1855.jpg 1855

WomenFashionplates1857peterson4.jpg 1857


WomenFashionplatesSept1859b.jpg 1859

HistoryAquariangalleryGodeysept61.jpg 1861 Image courtesy of

WomenFashionplatesPeter1863.jpg 1863

WomenFashionplates1866godey1.jpg 1866


WomenFashionplatesPeterson1867.jpg 1867



WomenFashionplates1868petit3.jpg Petit Courier, 1868

WomenFashionplatesGodeyfeb1869a.jpg 1869

WomenFashionplates1870godey.jpg 1870

Recommended Film:

MwbhImagesAng ins.jpg

Angels & Insects

Links for Further Study:

Regency Links

Victorian LinksTimeline Images for Study:

neoclassical Period

Romantic Period

Era of the HoopMore Links:

Product Links

Sewing Machine


Bronte Sisters

Aquarian Gallery Antique Prints and Maps

Vocabulary of Basic Terms for Cataloguing Costume

Aquarian Gallery Antique Prints and Maps

What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew : From Fox Hunting to Whist-The Facts of Daily Life in Nineteenth-Century England What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew : From Fox Hunting to Whist-The Facts of Daily Life in Nineteenth-Century England

The 19th Century - By Miles Hodges

Aquarian Gallery Antique Prints and Maps

'New Raiments of Self' : African American Clothing in the Antebellum South (Dress, Body, Culture Series)

Civil War Ladies : Fashions and Needle-Arts of the Early 1860's

Civil War Gentlemen : 1860's Apparel Arts & Uniforms

Aquarian Gallery Antique Prints and Maps

American Victorian Costume in Early Photographs American Victorian Costume in Early Photographs

The Female Economy : The Millinery and Dressmaking Trades, 1860-1930 (Working Class in American History) The Female Economy : The Millinery and Dressmaking Trades, 1860-1930 (Working Class in American History)

Fashions and Costumes from Godey's Lady's Book Fashions and Costumes from Godey's Lady's Book


80 Godey's Full-Color Fashion Plates (1838-1880)

The Hidden Consumer : Masculinities, Fashion and City Life 1860-1914 The Hidden Consumer : Masculinities, Fashion and City Life 1860-1914

The Life of Ellen White by D.M. Canright - The Reform Dress

Biographical History of Pottawattmie Co., IA - Amelia BLOOMER

Portraits of Nevada: Pioneer clothing collection

Victoriana Directory, Corsets

History - The 19th Century - Home Page

Clothing - 19th Century History Net Links

Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color That Changed the World Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color That Changed the World

"The Costumer's Manifesto"
by Tara Maginnis