We’re venturing through the Victorian era just now as I work on my latest manuscript. I’ve been researching women’s clothing in this period as I’ve never taken the time to really look at it. I’ve studied Regency era clothing to no end (including drawers and knickers), but never Victorian period clothing. And as with everything else Victorian, there are quite a lot of odd things. So I’m dedicating a series of blogs to the dress of the Victorian era. Starting with the pocket that wasn’t.
Pockets on women’s dresses became popular starting in 1875 when the return of the natural form heralded the latest fashions. Before 1875, the female shape was distorted by crinolines, small waists accentuated by flared shoulders, and very baggy sleeves. The result was a female form that looked like a watermelon overcome with rubber bands. (A terrible image just popped into your head, didn’t it?) After 1875, the more natural form returned, and women were no longer in danger of exploding at the waist. At least not from their crinolines or top heavy outfits. Corsets excluded in this argument. So in need of some sort of decoration, women began demanding pockets on their costumes. Pockets often sat low, about mid-thigh, and toward the rear of the person. They were completely unusable. This fantastic board on Pinterest shows many such costumes with the pockets highlighted by bows and flounces. You will see where they are located at the extreme ends of a woman’s arm and reach. It begs you to ask the question, why would they have that pocket at all?
It sounds like there might be a story in there, doesn’t it?