Nineteenth Century Fashion

19th Century Fashion by Terrize on Deviant Art

What began as research for a vignette (more on that later), has developed into a deep dive into the history of women’s fashion in England. I’ve always loved the costumes in Austen films, but I never realized just how interesting those free flowing, form showing dresses were in regards to history.

As you can see in this lovely graphic by Terrizae on Deviant Art, the empire waist dresses with their freely moving skirts were a mere blip on the map of fashion. As early as 1830, those big skirts were back.

Beautiful as they were, the large hoop skirts made it difficult to move about in a normal way. Can you imagine just trying to sit down in one of those? I think most of us modern ladies would have a hard time managing. And let’s not even think about going to the bathroom!

So why, then, did the empire-waist come into fashion at all? According to, there was a renewed interest during this time period on Classical works of art and literature. That is to say, the Greeks and Romans were cool again, and people wanted to dress like them.

What I find so amusing is the fact that these dresses, like the one Elizabeth Bennet wears in every adaptation, were considered bold and daring! I confess, I would love to have each and every one of the dresses in this pretty graphic, if only I had somewhere to wear them!

Finding Inspiration in Strange Places

Frederica of Mecklenburg-Streilitz

This is the lovely Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, later Queen of Hanover. She lived from 1778-1841. Frederica was married to Prince Louis of Prussia when she was only 15.

Apparently, she went on to have quite the life. She was married three times, had various affairs throughout her first two marriages, and was accused of murdering her second husband. This accusation, in my opinion, was rather unfounded. By all accounts, however, her third and final marriage was one of mutual love and affection.

I do wish I knew who had created this painting. I found it while searching for images of early 19th century fashion. The beautiful Frederica does wear a stunning empire-waist gown in this painting. I particularly love the lavish sash and collar.

Looking at this painting makes me want to write a story! Does anyone know who painted it? Or how to track down an old artist? I honestly don’t even know the name of the painting.