Women in the Victorian era wore a very distinct style of dress. This time period, beginning in the 1860s and continuing until 1901, was characterised by long skirts with plenty of embellishments and over-the-top hats for day and night. With a little knowledge of this era's characteristic style, it's easy to instantly recognise a costume or hat from the Victorian period.
Women in the Victorian era were known for elaborate hats, even during the daytime. For day-to-day activities, like carriage riding or visiting friends, the hats would be smaller in scale but still feature adornments like lace veils and silk flowers. For more special daytime events, like the races or dining in a tea room, the hats may have featured large, sweeping brims.
Victorian hats worn in the evening were even more elaborate than those worn during the day. To add sparkle, beads, feathers, ribbons and silk flowers were incorporated into hat designs. The evening hat was typically done in darker colours than day hats, in shades like deep purple or green.
The Victorian-era dress was characterised by a few distinct features. The skirt of the dress was always long-- to the ankles. The back might have a bustle or a slightly longer train than the front of the hem. The sleeves came down to the wrists for day, while evening dresses could have shorter sleeves showing off the arms. The neckline often came up to the throat for day dresses, but the neckline could be lower on evening gowns. Dresses were often embellished with lace, ribbons and silk flowers.
Outerwear was important to a Victorian woman's wardrobe, as an outfit would look unfinished when walking outdoors without it. Jackets were often worn over the dress, even when the weather wasn't cool. Longer coats could be worn in the winter, though the silhouette was usually close to the body, skimming the dress underneath. Gloves were a popular accessory, even in warm weather. White gloves were considered polite at most social functions, while black leather gloves could be worn outside in the colder months.