How Did Girls Dress in School During the Victorian Age?

Updated April 17, 2017

Though it's easy to imagine the Victorian girl trimmed in pastel ruffles and lace with her hair tied back in a bow, there wasn't just one look for Victorian schoolgirl.

Same Clothes for School and Play

During the Victorian era, only wealthy children attended private schools that required uniforms. But because there weren't many private schools for females, most Victorian girls wore the same clothes at school and at home.

The Protective Pinafore

Most Victorian children only owned a few outfits, and it was imperative to keep clothes clean. Therefore, many schools required both boys and girls to wear starched pinafores over their clothing. These sleeveless, apron-type garments could be white, brown or blue and would protect fabric from spills and splotches of ink.

The Basic Look

In the first half of the Victorian era, little girls dressed much like their mothers. Later more distinct looks for children evolved. However, throughout the period there were some constants. Skirts were usually short -- just below the knee -- and worn with dark stockings in the winter and light stocking in the summer or when dressing up. Necklines could be high and ruffled or V-shaped, and often included tight-sleeves. Ribbon, buttons, tucks, bows and plaid were popular additions.


A Victorian girl's hair was worn loose and parted down the middle. As a girl grew older, her hair was frequently tied back with a ribbon.


A Victorian girl's shoes were almost always low and black.

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About the Author

Bess Lovejoy is a writer and researcher in Seattle, Washington. She was an editor on the Schott's Almanac series of reference books from 2005 until 2010. She has also written journalism for the "Stranger," "Arcade," the "Tyee," "KGBBarLit" and other publications. She graduated from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 2003, and has been writing ever since.