Year 1850-1854


Coat Fitted into the waist, above the knee-length, single-breasted,  fly fastenings, fitted sleaves with or without cuffs, narrow collar and revers, piped pockets, breast pocket, wool cloth.
Waistcoat Fitted, single-breasted, collarless, welt pockets, silk or matching coat.
Trousers Straight cut, narrow at ankle, wool cloths, checked cloths popular.
Shirt High stiff collar points, and sleave cuffs, pleated fronts, linen.
Colour Dark colours, Black, blue,  grey, brown, green; coats and trousers in matching collar; waistcoats in bright colours.
Accessories Top hats, stocks, cravats, bow ties, pocket handkerchiefs, leather gloves, spats worn with ankle-boots and shoes, walking cane.



1852: Sports ware. British riding. double breasted blue cloth tailcoat, pearl buttons, narrow collar and revers, tight cuff less sleaves with button trim. Yellow waistcoat. Pink cravat. White and grey checked trousers. Short black boots worn with spurs. Brown top hat. Yellow leather gloves.(JP)



1852:  Formal tail coat, trousers, vest, and frilled shirt. Originally a riding jacket, by the 1850s the tail coat had evolved into formal wear. Pocket watches had become so popular during the Victorian age that waistcoats began to have pockets especially for them.   *



1853: Wool sack coat, striped waistcoat, and flannel trousers. In the 1850s people began to wear clothes designed especially for seaside wear. Here is a navy blue sack coat of soft wool, a cream waistcoat with tan stripes and pale blue flannel trousers. Turned down collar with large bow tie. sports caps with black leather bill became popular.   *




1.   Queen Victoria: Wearing an 1850s evening dress. Note the very large jewellery, this was fashionable for eveningwear until the late 1890s.


Comments By Kay Inverarity






1854, Girl's cambric dress with embroidered flounces  The confection is of cambric, decorated with eyelet embroidery flounces and trimmed with satin ribon.   *

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.