Inspiration – Victorian summer dresses

It’s been unusually warm and dry here in the Netherlands (and in most of Europe, I believe). That’s gotten me thinking of light, summer style dresses. I don’t have any at the moment, all of mine are either silk, velvet or wool. So one of these might have to go onto the (long) list of things I want to make one day…

Last year I did a post on summer dresses of the period just before the Victorian age, so for this post, let’s look at some Victorian examples!

These dresses are all made of very light cotton. They protect the skin from the sun, and the white is relatively cool. The cotton is rather thin, and breathes well. Of course, a fashionable lady would still seek out the shade, and wear a bonnet and parasol as well to protect from the sun.

Some crinoline styles. In this era, flowers on white seem tho have been quite popular!



I particularly like the pin-tucks on this bodice.



Some nice stripy contrast!

Day dress, late 1860′s From the John Bright Historic Costume Collection


PRINTED DIMITY DAY DRESS, 1860s 1-piece, white, windowpane-woven w/ small red flower print, self fabric belt, trained skirt.


Organza dress ca. 1865. Bodice has muslin foundation trimmed in needlelace accented with bows. Time Travelers Estate Sales


Some solid white, as we’re moving into the bustle era.

Dress, ca. 1870


But dots are nice too!

Day dress, American (attrib.), ca. 1873-77. White cotton printed with red circles. Bodice: fitted over hips, ruffled edge, long sleeves. Skirt: bustle with white cotton and red trim. Overskirt: as draped apron. Kent State Univ. Museum

Two afternoon dresses in printed cotton, ca. 1875. Part of the Jacoba de Jonge collection, which is now owned by the Mode Museum in Antwerp. Filep Motwary blog


And, to finish, two more solid white dresses from the 1880’s this time

Dress, European, ca. 1885. Cotton plain weave with cotton cutwork embroidery (broderie anglaise) & cotton needle lace. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Rebecca Thelin/Flickr, and thecourtesanblue/Flickr

Dress ca. 1885 via The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Inspiration – Summer

It’s hot here. The record for the warmest night ever was broken last night, and coming Saturday the national day-record might even be broken, as current predictions are 36 C (the record being 38 C). For people in other parts of the world this might not be much, but for the Netherlands it’s quite unique. So while I’m drinking loads of water and eating ice cream, some summery dresses.

The romantic period, between the Regency and Victorian era (ca. 1820-1840) is quite under-represented by historic costumers. The reason is probably that it takes some getting used to. It’s the era of dropping waists, growing skirts, huge sleeves and some fabulous hair (think of styles like in this fashion plate ) . There’s also quite a lot of extant examples of light cotton dresses, and I think the style is growing on me.


1820s, Augusta Auction

ca. 1820, Met museum

1823-1825. Sudley House, Liverpool museums

1826 Met museum

1825-30, Met museum

1826-29, Met museum

1825-1835, Augusta Auction

1830s, Vintage Textile

ca. 1830, V&A

1830-1835, Augusta Auctions

1830s, Kerry taylor auctions

circa late 1830’s, Time travelers antiques

ca. 1840, Met Museum