Victorian working women wore practical clothing – suitable for working. Learn how a Victorian working woman would’ve dressed.
Dressing The Victorian Working Woman
Chemise, Stockings & Boots
The first layer is a linen or cotton chemise, dark wool stockings and dark, heavy leather ankle boots. I’m wearing my antique linen chemise. The colors of Victorian underwear (chemise & petticoats) were either white (bleached cotton or linen) or cream colored and grayish (unbleached cotton and linen).
Related: My Victorian Underwear: Chemise, Drawers And Petticoats
Tie a length of ribbon around the stockings to hold them up. Instead of a ribbon, you can also knit Victorian garters.
Fold the stockings over the ribbon so that the stockings hold up better.
The corset of Victorian working women was called stays. Stays were made of dark, sturdy material – such as wool or jean – and unboned or just lightly boned. They were worn for support while working and to evenly distribute the weight of the petticoats. I’m wearing my black wool stays. They’re closed with spiral lacing at the front so that I can easier lace myself in.
Now come the petticoats. Victorian petticoats were made of linen, cotton or wool. Sometimes old, faded and torn skirts were refashioned into petticoats. Add another petticoat if necessary. I’m wearing four unbleached cotton petticoats and one natural-colored linen petticoat.
For working near an open fire – such as cooking – wool skirts were practical and safe because wool fabric is naturally fire retardant. Here I’m wearing a blue cotton skirt. Victorian working women seemed to prefer blue skirts and blue aprons.
-> My Pinterest Board: Victorian & Edwardian Working Class Clothes
Hair & 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).
Related: 1850s Braided Hairstyle Tutorial
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.
Related: How To Sew An Authentic Victorian Day Cap – Tutorial
Wear an apron to protect your skirt.
If you’re going to work outside in the fields, protect your head and dress with a straw hat.
Related: History Of Haymaking
Victorian straw hats usually had a lower crown than the one I’m wearing.
Related: Edwardian Haymaking With The Scythe
Instead of a strawhat you could also wear a sunbonnet. I’m wearing my mint green hand-sewn cotton sunbonnet.
And this is the finished outfit of a lower class Victorian working woman.
Related: Dressing The Victorian Lady
19 thoughts on “Dressing The Victorian Working Woman”
That looks like a lot of work to get dressed everyday! Thanks for sharing at The Blogger’s Pit Stop! Roseann
Thanks for stopping by, Roseann! It’s not so much work like it looks! 😉
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
Thanks, Michelle! 🙂 It doesn’t take so much longer to put on Victorian clothes. 😉
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.
Because it’s all natural fiber it’s not too hot and somehow the layers keep you cool. Thanks for sharing and following me! 🙂
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.
Thanks, Leanna! 🙂 Somehow the layers keep you cool.
It’s a lovely look, but I’m glad for simpler clothes–especially in the Texas heat! Thanks for sharing @Vintage Charm!
Thanks, Cecilia! Because it’s all natural fiber it’s not too hot and somehow the layers keep you cool.
Oh I just love it all! Stepping back in time has always been such a delight for me! Thanks for sharing it with SYC.
Thanks for your lovely comment, Jann! 🙂 I enjoyed your post about the pioneer women!
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.
Thanks for stopping by, Julie!
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.
Yes, you’re right: The chemise, cap and apron was washed more often than the rest of the clothes. And the petticoats were starched which made them dirt-resistant.
Wow you outfits are amazing and we don’t realize how lucky we are just to be able to throw on jeans !!