The Dressing Room


"But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the
Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as
from the Lord, the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:18 

Many different clothing styles came and went during Queen Victoria's  reign. 
Click on a time period to find out  more about what they were wearing.

Pre-hoop 1840-1855
Hoop 1856-1869
Early Bustle 1869-1876
Natural Form 1877-1882
Late Bustle 1883-1889


Links from
Truly Victorian


"The Dress of the mistress should always be adapted to her circumstances, and be varied with different occasions. Thus, at breakfast she should be attired in the very neat and simple manner, wearing no ornaments. If this dress should decidedly pertain only to the breakfast-hour, and be specially suited for such domestic occupations as usually follow that meal, then it would be well to exchange it before the time for receiving visitors, if the mistress be in the habit of doing so. It is still to be remembered, however, that in changing the dress, jewellery and ornaments are not to be worn until the full dress for dinner is assumed. "
From " Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management "
Oxford University Press


Its Furnishing.

THE dressing-room of every well-bred woman should be both elegant and comfortable in proportion to her fortune and position; it may be simply comfortable if its owner cannot make it luxurious, but must be provided with everything necessary for a careful toilette.
        The great ladies of the eighteenth century, whose ablutions were some what restricted, employed Watteau, Boucher,  Fragonard, and others, to paint their dressing-rooms, wherein they received their friends while they were themselves being painted, powdered, and patched. In time present day no one would dream of exposing delicate fresco wall-paintings or beautiful ceilings to the hot vapour and damp which are necessitated by an abundant use of hot and cold water.
    Some dressing-rooms have their walls entirely covered with tiles - blue, pink, or pale green. This tiling has the merit of being bright and clean, but the effect is a little cold to both sight and touch. Hangings are generally preferred; they should be in neutral tints or very undecided tones, so as not to clash with the colours of the dresses. Very often light or bright-coloured silks are covered over with tulle or muslin, so as to attenuate their vividness and at the same time preserve their texture from the effect of vapour.
    Sometimes the walls are hung with large-patterned cretonnes or coloured linens; but cotton or linen stuffs are always a little hard, and any very conspicuous pattern on the walls is apt to detract from the effect of the toilette, which should be the one thing to attract the eye when its wearer is in the room. Personally, I prefer a dressing-room to be hung with sky-blue or crocus-lilac under point d'esprit tulle. These hangings, which will form an admirable background to dresses of no matter what colour, should be ornamented with insertions of lace.
    The floor should be covered with a pearl- grey carpet with a design of either roses or lilac. From the centre of the ceiling should hang a small lustre to hold candles; and care should be taken to place wide bobches on these candles, so as to prevent any danger of the wax falling on the dresses.
    One or two large windows should light this dressing-room. The ground-glass panes should have pretty designs on them; and double curtains, of silk and tulle, the latter edged with lace, should drape them voluminously.

Indispensable Accessories.

    There must be two tables, opposite to each other, of different dimensions, but the same shape. The larger table is meant for minor ablutions, and on it should be placed a jug and basin, which should be chosen with taste and care. The table is draped to match the walls; above it should run a shelf, on which are placed the bottles for toilet waters and vinegars, dentifrices and perfumes, the toilet bottle and glass, etc. At either side of the basin should be placed the brush and soap trays, the sponges, etc.
    The other table, which is smaller, bears the mirror, which should be framed in a ruche of satin and lace; the table itself is draped like its companion. As this table is meant for the operation of hair-dressing, everything necessary to that important art must be found upon it. The various boxes  for pins and hair-pins; a large casket, in which are placed the brushes and combs, whose elegance should be on a par with that of the rest of the room ; the bottles of perfume and of scented oil or pomades the powder boxes; the manicure case, etc., should all have their places on this table, at either side of which should be fixed a couple of tall candelabra.
    The fireplace should, occupy the centre of the wall opposite the windows; a Dresden clock or a pretty bust in terra-cotta, with some vases of fresh flowers, is all that need be placed upon it. At one side of the fireplace should be placed a chaise-longue in blue or mauve damask, the pattern on it being in white; and here and there about the room a few arm-chairs and smaller ones of gilt cane will be found convenient.
    At either side of the dressing-table there should be a wardrobe. One of these should have three mirrors in its doors, for the ordinary wardrobe with a single panel of glass has been banished from all artistic bed-rooms and dressing-rooms. The side doors open at opposite angles, and thus form a triple-sided, full-length mirror, in which one can judge of the effect of both dress and coiffure from all points of view. The second wardrobe, which should be lacquered like its companion, has no mirror, its doors being painted with garlands of flowers. In it are placed the reserve stock of bran, starch, soaps, powder, creams, etc. etc.
    No slop-buckets or water-cans should be seen, nor should any dresses or other paraphernalia be visible; everything of that kind should be hidden from sight in special closets or cupboards near at hand. If the dressing. room does not adjoin the bath-room, the tub, of which we shall speak farther on, should be brought each day into the dressing-room for the daily sponge bath, which replaces the larger bath one may have to go and take elsewhere, or which may be forbidden on account of health.

A More Simple Dressing-Room.

A dressing-room, however, may be much more simple than this. All excess of luxury may be suppressed without preventing a woman of taste from making the little sanctuary of her charms both elegant and tasteful.
    A pretty wall-paper should be chosen, and the floor covered with an oil-cloth. Drape the deal tables with wide flounces of cretonne edged with frills of the same material; cover the tables with linen toilet- cloths edged with deep thread lace, and on them place the washing utensils in bright coloured ware. If the tables are small, have shelves made-which you can cover in the same style as the tables - to accommodate the bottles and boxes, which should be chosen with care, to make up for their moderate price. If your mirror is somewhat ordinary, you can dissimulate its frame under a pleated frill, which you can fasten on with small tacks. You can ornament your wardrobe yourself, painting and varnishing it to match the room, and to please your own individual fancy. The slop-buckets and the water-cans should be hidden under the flounces of the tables.
    If it is necessary to keep your dresses, your band-boxes, your boots and shoes, etc., in your dressing-room, you should have some shelves placed across the end of the room at a sufficient height to allow you to hang your dresses from hooks. On these shelves you can put your boxes, parcels, etc.; the whole being hidden by curtains to match the draperies of the tables. These curtains should not be placed against the wall, as they would then reveal the outlines of all the things they are meant to hide. They should be hung from the ceiling, and enclose the shelves as in an alcove; behind them also may be placed the bath-tub, which is not usually exposed to view. The great matter in a dressing-room is to have one large enough to be comfortable. 

The Victorian Dictionary
compiled by
Lee Jackson




Animated Graphics by, A Victorian Antique Marketplace

Globe by Shari's Victorian Globes
























The Parlor
The Garden
The Ballroom
The Dining Room
The Kitchen
The Music Room
The Dressing Room
The Nursery
The Library
The Emporium
The Front Porch
The Study
The Privy
The Chapel
The Boudoir

Dressing Room Links

What Lies Within Story of the Corset Parasols

Victorian Fashion

Journey to Somewhere in Time~Victorian and Edwardian Hats and Titanic Hats designed by Darna for your Millinery Enchantment!


"The Fare To Be Raised On The Fair"

The Omnibus proprietors are taking into consideration the propriety of advancing the rates of fare, as each seat will now only accommodate three ladies, owing to the fashion of wearing hoops. Formerly every seat accomodated six persons.

Godey's Ladys Book, Vol.LIII July to December, 1856, p 184

The quintessential female silhouette of the mid-Victorian period was a tight bodice blossoming out from the hips into a bell-like voluminous skirt. This was achieved by the invention of a light dress frame made from steel hoops called the crinoline. Up to thirty-five steel springs increased in diameter as they reached the ground. The crinoline replaced large numbers of stiffened petticoats lined with horsehair which women has been wearing to achieve a fashionable form, despite their weight and discomfort. Its major disadvantage was considered to be that it occasionally tilted and revealed the ankles. Less socially gauche difficulties, such as the discomfort of sitting, were overcome with better materials and design. The 1860s saw greater restraint in fashionable dress. The number of steel hoops was reduced to three or four at the bottom of the skirt. In the later 1860s this shape, known as a half crinoline, became the bustle, a small frame attached to the lower back, which supported a pronounced mass of material often running into a long train.


What Lies Within?

A devotional in the mirror