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My North & South Anniversary 7/7. Fashionable Fanny

This is the last post in the series celebrating my North and South anniversary.

A huge Thank You to all of you who participated and celebrated with me 🙂

In my previous post, I wrote about John Thornton – the magistrate.

Margaret’s concern on whether Fanny will fit in the drawing-room may be humourous, but not unfounded.

Like any self-respecting middle and upper-class lady of her time, Miss Thornton slavishly followed the fashion on her day.

The Industrial Revolution created new wealth for investors, industrialists, and merchants and introduced a new middle class.

This group was preoccupied with exhibiting their wealth in the most ostentatious manner.

The fabrics were luxurious and expensive, and the shape underlined that this was the ‘leisure class’.

This meant that men were wealthy enough, and could provide, for the females in their family. The fathers and husbands were the guardians of women.

The woman’s domain was the house, and upholding the social status within the community.

New urbanization filled cities with workers for the new mills and factories.

 Working-class women worked long hours in grim, dirty, and often dangerous conditions.

This dictated what they wore, and sharply contrasted the with ladies who did not have to seek employment.

The fashions of the Victorian period created an often exaggerated, ostentatious look.

 These consisted of a light corsets, gigantic hoop-skirts, and bustles.

In the 1850s, tapered skirts that flared at the waist were the height of fashion.

The new hour-glass figure grew to exaggerated proportions.

This was achieved with the use hoop-skirts (also known as cage crinolines, or cages).

Cage crinolines, which produced the huge, voluminous skirts, were made of flexible sprung steel rings suspended from fabric tape.

Early versions of hoop skirts reached the floor, but hemlines rose in the 1860’s.

Lace was very popular in this period.

Sleeves were often tight at the top, opening at the bottom in a bell-like shape.

Wearing such a voluminous skirt had its perils. It was difficult to sit down or walk through the door. Very often the skirts caught fire, and the poor fashionista would go up in flames.

The corsets damaged the skin and caused a difficulty in breathing.

Fanny’s hairstyle could also be seen as extremely fashionable for the early Victorian era, with ringlets either in front of the ears, or carefully arranged at the back of the head.

Unless you are a lady of leisure, let’s be thankful that women’s fashion has changed so much!

I was wondering what Fanny would look like if she lived in the 21st century?

Would she be a party girl, ala Paris or Kim K?

She would have the means to wear designer clothes, and lead a jet-set lifestyle 🙂


About Agzy The Ripper

Sew, Rip, Repeat... and love each moment of it! Join me as I embark on a myriad of sewing and crafting shenanigans.

8 responses »

  1. I wonder how did women go to the toilet with cage crinolines ????

  2. OMG… skirts catching fire??? Should women provide their own fire insurance?? LOL
    And here I was just thinking how uncomfortable these big drasses would be!!!

    • They’d sweep by a fire, and the clothing would be so complex that there wouldn’t be time to pull a lady out of them. On the bright side, you wouldn’t have to hold your stomach in in a dress like that. Plus the bust line would look divine! 🙂

      • Well, I’m very happy to be a 21st century lady (not only for the fashion code)!!! By the way, it’s a pity your N&S Aniversary is over. I loved to celebrate it with you!!

  3. I’ve enjoyed your history lessons from the N&S period.


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