Dressing The Victorian Working Woman

victorian chemise

Victorian working women wore practical clothing – suitable for working. Here I’m showing you how a Victorian lower class woman might’ve dressed.

The first layer is a linen or cotton chemise, dark wool stockings and dark, heavy leather ankle boots. Here I’m wearing my antique linen chemise.

victorian knitted garter

Tie a length of ribbon around the stockings to hold them up. Instead of a ribbon, you can also knit Victorian garters.

victorian ribbon garters

Fold the stockings over the ribbon so that the stockings hold up better.

unboned working women stays

Unboned or lightly boned working stays were worn for support while working and to evenly distribute the weight of the petticoats. I’m wearing my black wool stays with spiral lacing.

victorian petticoats

Now come the petticoats which may be of linen, cotton or wool. Sometimes an old skirt, which was no longer pretty enough to be seen, was worn as petticoat.

victorian linen petticoat

Add another petticoat if necessary. I’m wearing four unbleached cotton petticoats and one natural-colored linen petticoat.

victorian cotton skirt

Now comes the skirt. Here I’m wearing a blue cotton skirt, but a wool skirt would be more practical and safer for work near an open fire.

victorian plain cotton day cap

The hair is worn in a simple bun at the nape of the neck (higher in the 1840s and lower in the 1850s and 1860s). To protect your hair from dirt, add a freshly laundered day cap. I’m wearing a plain cotton day cap which is easy to iron.

Dressing The Victorian Working Women

Wear an apron to protect your skirt.

victorian field working women clothes

If you’re going to work outside in the fields, protect your head and dress with a straw hat.

victorian field working woman

Victorian straw hats usually had a lower crown than the one I’m wearing.

victorian sunbonnet

Instead of a strawhat you could also wear a sunbonnet. I’m wearing my mint green hand-sewn cotton sunbonnet.

lower class working women dress

Here’s the finished outfit of a lower class Victorian working woman.

19 thoughts on “Dressing The Victorian Working Woman

  1. Fascinating reading Lina. I love layering my cloths but I must admit I’m so glad we don’t have to dress in so many anymore. It would take me forever to get dressed

  2. What a very interesting post!!!! I am so thankful we don’t dress like that now… so much work and it would be cumbersome and hot to wear all of that… but there certainly is a charm to it. Thank you for sharing this…. especially as you showed the different layers. I will be sharing this! 🙂 I am now following you on Pinterest.

  3. I can’t imagine how they got anything done in the summertime. Everything looks so warm. For the middle of winter this would be doable but they had so many layers. Interesting read.

  4. Oh I just love it all! Stepping back in time has always been such a delight for me! Thanks for sharing it with SYC.

  5. I love the idea of historical clothing. As we travel around the US in our RV, my favorites stops are “living” museums where folks are dressed in period clothing.

  6. How interesting, a lot of layers on the bottom half and not so much up top.
    I’m assuming a lot of it was to do with having layer so not everything needed washing so often.
    So different from what we wear today.

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