Winter Warmers

As the chill winds of winter begin to blow, I’ve looked back to see what the Victorians wore to keep themselves warm. The first image shows a small child enveloped in her fur-trimmed coat, with matching cape and what maybe a knitted hat. Her ensemble is completed by a pair of tiny, though sturdy, boots.

In photographs 2 and 3 above, capes are again featured, this time in some kind of fur. The woman standing in the second image sports a long, tight-fitting coat. The hats of all three women are adorned with either flowers or some other ornament. These costumes from the 1880s were probably worn in autumn or spring as they would offer very slight protection against wind, rain or snow.

The older women in images 5 and 6 seem pretty well prepared for anything that nature might throw at them. Not only do they have long outer garments, fabric gloves also feature in their outfits. Added to this, while one lady relies on a stylish umbrella to keep her dry, the other, standing by a desk, has invested in an early type of mackintosh. I do wonder though how their hats stood up to inclement conditions.

The same can be asked of the woman in image 4, probably from the 1870s. She wears a matching gown and jacket, with leather gloves covering her hands. Added to these garments is a rather large fur muff, where her hands could be inserted should the gloves prove insufficient for her needs. I get the impression that this lady usually avoided bad weather by travelling everywhere by coach.

I struggled to find any chaps in all-weather gear but the three examples show that they adjusted their usual dress of trousers, waistcoat and jacket by the addition of a more substantial overcoat. The young man relies on his bowler hat to keep his head warm with a smart overcoat  for the rest of his person. The boy in image 9 goes one step further in the quest for sartorial warmth. His collar and cuffs are trimmed with what appears to be astrakhan; evidently he was the son of an affluent Victorian family and dressed very much in the same style as his elders.

So, no anoraks or hoodies for our Victorian ancestors but they did look much smarter in those. AT least, that’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.

Published by qvictoria

A collector of Victorian photographs for many a long year. I'm interested in both the individual photographs and the studio advertising on the 'backs' of the images, Victorian graphic design at its most varied and interesting. My collection of "cartes de visite" photographs is housed in plastic pockets within a series of albums, numerically arranged in order as they are acquired. There are now roughly 3000 photographers and images in all. I use directories, newspapers and genealogical information to research the life and work of each photographer and their studio but there aren't enough hours in the day. This photo is one of my collection, chosen for the gentle expression in the face of the sitter.

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