There’s something about 1840s fashion that instantly enchanted me; was it the dark colours, Gothic influence or sentimentality and melancholy of Post-Romanticism that dragged me into this beautiful era.
I find that 1840s as a fashion era have been pretty much underestimated. Maybe that also one of the reasons I adore this era. The decade of 1840s has been characterized with mixture of styles; sentimentality of Post- Romanticism mixed with the rigidity of the upcoming Victorian era. Quite a charming era I’d have to say.
Just look at the evening dresses in the picture above. Aren’t they just lovely ? Sloping shoulders with full, bell-shaped skirts covered with flounces and intriguing embroidery. The dress on the left is simple, but only on a first sight. Beautiful white silk or tarlatan seems to be transparent and fluid in the skirt area and that interesting combination created this simple, yet opulent evening dress. The colours can seem somber, but that’s the Gothic influence that created itself a way through fashion at the same time Romanticism was at it’s decline.
The two dresses above have the elements of the 1850s decade; lots of bows and crazy, yet luxurious lace details. White muslin has actually been the favourite fabric for young ladies evening dresses because it symbolized virginity and opulence at the same time. White fabrics were hard to wash so only the rich ladies wore dresses in this colour.
Dresses in one colour were very popular in this era as a reaction to over-the-top dresses of the previous decade. Details and decorations are also toned down compared to not only previous decades, but the one that will follow, 1860s and 70s for example.
I must say that my favourite evening dress is no doubt the one above on the left. I love it’s toned down dove grey-blue colour, sophisticated black lace and black ribbons. Simplicity that looks so opulent and eye-catching. The dress on the right also indicated the style of the next decade; emphasis on the upper part of the dress and rich detailing on the sleeves.
Black lace is an unforgettable Gothic detail on evening dresses. Favourite accessories worn with the evening dresses were certainly long and dashing opera gloves, preferably in white colour and all kinds of scarfs, tiaras, exotic turbans, flowers and small, delicate bracelets.
Fashion plate above shows the exotic influence that was evident in 1840s fashion, but only in accessories, never in patterns or designs. These kind of little turbans certainly brought a pop to an outfit and did the job of being noticed. Beautiful, toned-down colours are shown in both dresses, but this sentimental delicacy is defied by deep neckline.
A thing that I absolutely adore about this silhouette are sloping shoulders. I find it the most beautiful way of shaping the upper part of a dress. It brings out the undoubted delicacy of female body.
Perhaps the simplest dresses of all, but equally beautiful. This pale blue dress is particularly interesting to me; simple and casual yet elegant and refined. In my opinion perfect for Debutantes and young ladies. These simple dresses only enhance the natural beauty of young aristocratic Victorian ladies. Just look at the hairstyles with soft curls and lovely romantic roses.
Can you imagine Queen Victoria, Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts or Duchess Alexandra Nikolaevna wearing these dresses and dancing on the latest tunes composed by Schumann.