Dressing The Victorian Working Woman

A Victorian working woman wore practical clothing – suitable for working. Here I’m showing you how a Victorian lower class woman would dress.

victorian chemise

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

unboned working women stays

Unboned or just slightly 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 knitted garter

Tie some ribbon round your stockings to hold them up. You may also knit some Victorian garters.

victorian ribbon garters

You may fold down your stockings over the ribbon so that they’d hold up better.

victorian cotton skirt

Now comes the skirt. Here I’m wearing an blue cotton skirt, but a wool skirt would be practical if you’d work near an open fire.

victorian plain cotton day cap

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. 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).

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.

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