Portraying the Victorian Woman - Image 2

Portraying the Victorian Woman

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 Image 2

This image dates to about 1849-1850 judging from the waistline and the shirred gathers and pleated fan front bodice.  The sleeves are slim at the top before gently flaring out at the bottom.  The sleeves appear to have a pleat above elbow level, with a very simple trim just above the sleeve bottom.  Oddly enough she is not wearing undersleeves as one would expect indicating possibly that she is unacquainted with this practice or else is not fashion-conscious enough to warrant wearing them.  Other than that above the bottom of the sleeves there is no other trim visible.  There appears to be a wide growth tuck below knee level.  Judging from the gathers the dress is of a light weight fabric, perhaps cotton calico or wool challis.  Since this dress does not have the look of something worn for "at-home", and since she has chosen to wear it for having her image struck it is assumed the apron is dress rather than functional, probably of silk.  

This young lady wears a white collar on her dress, what appears to be jewelry at her neck, and simple small earrings.   Her hair is smoothed back without the side "puffs" one would expect to see with this dress.  It is difficult to tell if she is young enough to have the hair in a center part combed behind the ears or whether she has it put into a bun in back.  

If we were to hazard a guess as to the station in life of these people it might be solid middle class.  The dress seems to be made well, but the absence of undersleeves indicates she is not particularly worried about propriety as one of greater means might be. Perhaps her husband is a teacher, a carpenter, a stone mason, an overseer, a furniture maker, a hotel keeper, a grocer, a hatter, bank clerk, dentist, harness maker, farmer, a tinner, a painter, a gardener, or perhaps a music teacher.    

We must remember that various circumstances effected people's lives, someone with an above average income could have lived more simply if they were perhaps caring for siblings or parents, or had amassed a debt due to say an illness.  We can speculate on their lives, but we cannot designate them with complete certainty.

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