Year 1840-1844


Coat Fitted into the waist, full knee-length skirts, single-breasted,  large collar, wide revers, wool cloth, velvet collars.
Waistcoat Fitted, single-breasted, collar and revers, shawl collars, welt pockets, silk or matching coat.
Trousers Gathered from waist, narrow  legs, strapped under the instep, plain wool cloths.
Shirt High collar points, pleated fronts, fine linen.
Colour Dark colours, Black, blue,  grey, brown; pale colours for trousers, or black or coloured checks.
Accessories Top hats with tall crown  stocks, cravats, bow ties, pocket handkerchiefs, gloves, ankle-boots, walking cane, boots , walking canes.



1844: Day wear. British Double-breasted grey cloth coat; black velvet collar, revers and sleave cuffs; hip level welt pockets. black top hat. leather gloves.   (JP)






1842,Prince Albert coat, waistcoat and checked trouser. Coat of fawn wool over a cream-coloured waistcoat. Tan and cream checked trousers. Collar is turned down over a brown silk cravat. accessories include a black silk top hat , black shoes and gold-headed walking stick.  *




1840 Afternoon dress in pale lavender silk
by Camille.  *

1841 Ermine trimmed green velvet cloak
trimmed with ermine. Styled like a burnoose with buttons down the front, it is worn over a black wool gown. Black satin hat trimmed with green clipped ostrich feather.   *


1843, Little boy's velvet coat and cap. Coat has a self-cape  and matching jockey's cap. Cotton draws.    *


1843, Boys blouse with shoulder flounces. The trousers are an unusual cut, with one piece waist band and frontal closure.    *

1828 - 1840: The Romantic Era

Skirts: straight, un-gored panels pleated or gathered into a waistband. Skirt becomes fuller towards 1840. Mostly unlined except for a wide band at the hem. Skirts are joined to the bodice and not separate.

Bodice: nearly always fastens at the back with hooks and eyes, or laced for evening. Waistline is at normal level with a straight band at the waist. Bodices are interlined and have boning at the CF, front darts and side seams (occasionally). Neckline is to the base of the neck, or with a wide scoop. Armholes are off the shoulder, nearly horizontal by 1835. Piping on all seams and edges. No CB seam, back cut on fold.

Sleeves: grow large until their collapse in 1837, when the fullness is banded down at the upper arm. Sleeves are lined and cut in one piece.

1840 - 1868: Gothic to Crinoline

Skirts: straight panels to 1863 when goring of front panels create a triangular shape and a backward shift. Gauging introduced in the 1840s and is used with gathering and pleating to control fullness. Box pleats used in the 1860s. From about 1865 there is hardly any fullness in the waist, the skirt size controlled by gores. Fullness is controlled by petticoats until the invention of wire hoops in 1856. Skirts are fairly plain for day wear in the 1840s, ruffles and layers in the 1850s, and surface decoration in the 1860s. Walking dresses in the 1860s which loop up to reveal fancy petticoats.

Skirts in the 1840s mostly have only the hem lined up to knee level. This can also occur in the ‘50s and ‘60s, but they can also be lined throughout. Hems in the 50s and ‘60s often have binding on the edge to protect from wear.

Bodices: long waisted and fan fronted in the 1840s. Fan front can occur in the ‘50s and early ‘60s. Normal level waist in the 1850s through to the early ‘60s, then it rises around 1865. Back fastening usual, but front fastening does occur, with hooks and eyes until about 1850. Front fastening more common in 1850s, and sees the use of buttons on female dress, mostly small in size. Evening dress is always back fastening. Round and scoop neckline in the 1840s. V- neckline fashionable in the early 1850s worn with a chemisette (chemisettes also worn earlier). Round neck for day in the ‘50s and ‘60s and scoop for evening. Some separate skirts and bodices in ‘50s and ‘60s. Armhole slightly off the shoulder, more extreme in the early 1860s. All bodices are interlined with boning at CF, front darts and side seams. Main seams and edges piped.

Sleeves: tight bias cut sleeves in the early 1840s, then funnel or bell shaped in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s, getting progressively larger towards the 1860s ( 1848 - 1863).

2 piece coat sleeve from 1863 which gets tighter towards 1868.

Evening sleeves are short. In the 1840s, some day sleeves are short, especially for young girls.


©Deborah V. McKeown 1997



Where marked (JP) the text is by John Peacock from his book Men's Fashion: The Complete Sourcebook, 1996 Thames & Hudson Ltd, London. Reproduced by kind permission of Thames & Hudson Ltd, London.

Where marked * Picture and notes are based on notes from Dover Publications.