Dress clothes of the 1800s

Written by lauren corona
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During the 1800s, there were several distinct periods of style. Dress clothes for both men and women tended to be modest and formal. From the Regency era, right through to the end of Victorian times, styles were classical and graceful in the Western world. Elements of 1800s style still play a role in the trends and fashions of today.


The Regency era lasted from the start of the 1800s to around 1825. Women's dresses in this period tended to have a low neckline with capped puff-sleeves and a high empire waistline. Muslin was the most commonly worn fabric, and white and pale pastels were popular colours.

Men's dress clothing in the Regency era consisted of pantaloons or trousers, rather than breeches, with a shirt, cravat, waistcoat, tailcoat and top hat. Muted colours were seen to be gentlemanly.


The Romantic period of dress spanned from 1825 to 1837. Women's dress clothing tended to have a pointed, V-shaped waist in this era. Dresses had sleeves of either the beret or the gigot cut. The skirts of ladies' dresses were fuller with a wider hemline, which was often padded or decorated.

Men's dress clothing of the era was usually black. Men commonly wore trousers and tailcoats with tall top hats. Men's clothing started becoming smoother and better fitted due to the advent of the sewing machine.

Early Victorian

Victorian times lasted from 1837 to 1901, during Queen Victoria's reign. In the early Victorian times, up to around 1860, V-shaped bodices were still popular, and low-waisted dresses were in vogue. Ladies wore crinolines or cage frames to make their skirts extremely full.

Men were all expected to dress in a similar manner. There was not a huge shift in style in this period, with men still wearing trousers, waistcoats and tailcoats.

Mid- and Late-Victorian

Between 1860 and the end of the 1800s, women's dress clothes started to change. Waists became higher, with rounded bodices. Necklines were high and detachable lace collars were often worn. Toward the very end of the 1800s, the sleeker princess-cut dress became popular.

During this era, men wore black trousers or pantaloons, white shirts, waistcoats and black dress coats. Younger men could sometimes be seen in lighter-coloured coats and trousers, such as white, blue and lavender.

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