The Victorian era took place in England during the reign of Queen Victoria from 1837 to 1901. Victorian style was defined by feminine, frilly features and "over-the-top" decor Intricate floral patterns were popular and dress fashion evolved dramatically from decade to decade. Women wore corsets and billowing petticoats or hoopskirts to create a shapely hourglass silhouette under the dress. Today, Victorian-style dresses are commonly used in period films.
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After the Civil War, the bell-shaped hoop skirt was replaced by a bustle profile instead. The front of a woman's skirt draped flat while the dress billowed out behind her. For a young girl today, this style may be more practical, since it doesn't prevent one from standing close to people or things, and often makes for less awkward photographs. The style must be age-appropriate, according to the era also. In addition to high necks and long sleeves, the skirt should reach the ankles for girls over 16 years of age. Young toddlers can wear knee length skirts but, as a girl becomes older, her hem line lengthens as a general rule.
In addition to calico floral patterns, many Victorian-style dresses were made from luxurious silk taffeta and velveteen cotton. If the goal is to create a historically-accurate dress, an expert from a local fabric shop may help you locate the correct fabrics. Whether you make or buy the dress, being familiar with the materials helps you pick the perfect one. Lace is also an important aspect in Victorian style. No Victorian dress should be without lace--the more, the better. Lace depicts the central Victorian theme of luxury, femininity and fancy frills.
Many patterns are available for girls as Halloween or party costumes. Some are quite simple to put together, while others require an experienced seamstress. Choose a pattern based on your skill level and the practicality of the design. A child's Halloween costume can be made in a much simpler style than an older girl's historical re-enactment costume. When looking for patterns, look for high-neckline styles, as the late-period shoulder-revealing evening gowns may be inappropriate for a young girl.
In addition to a Victorian-style dress, a young girl needs some accessories to complete her look. Though a corset isn't necessary with a modern-fit dress, a petticoat or bustle hoop skirt is. Crinoline works well for this. Under the crinoline, she may wish to wear pantaloons to cover her legs. This prevents irritation from a scratchy petticoat as well. The best outwear accessories are period-correct hairstyles (such as one with a snood), delicate white lace gloves, vintage evening bag, cameo choker, and ankle boots with a low heel. Don't forget a lacy parasol to block the sun, as porcelain skin was considered very couture in the Victorian era.
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