In Victorian men’s fashion, Collars and Cuffs were something altogether separate and different than a shirt. A whole different paradigm, given today’s men’s dress shirts are one solid piece, with the collar and cuffs attached. See vintage images of the styles and reasons why tailors (and factory producers) bothered to make the collars separate–and why some were made of PAPER rather than fabric.
An unnamed Dress Reformer, utterly against “tight lacing” (corsets), uses the art of poetry to explain that everything that ills a woman–from her attitude to her nature, from length of life to a red-tipped nose–is all a result of the ill-fated habit of tightly cinched corsets. This vintage newspaper publication is an example of the American Victorian’s use of humor to blame fashion on craziness with a price too steep to pay.
Despite the voice of reason from scientists of the day, medical doctors, dress reformers, nineteenth century women continued to cling to advertisements claiming health depended upon corsets and laced tightly to achieve the beautiful figure they desired. Advertisements didn’t promote mere beauty–they went so far as to claim health. A newspaper article published in Chicago Daily Tribune of Chicago, Illinois, on April 24, 1897 spoke of Roentgen’s Light–X-rays–and the malformation caused by lacing. Today, the argument seems sound, prudent, and almost laughable that anyone fell for corsets.
Victorian Americans wore ingenious devices beneath their clothing to hold their stockings (hose) up. Because garters / hose supporters aren’t as romantic and enticing as corsets or even Union Suits, I’ve yet to see a fictional piece of the era that so much as mentions them. This article contains images of items offered for sale in the 1895 and 1897 editions of the Sears Roebuck & Co. and Montgomery Ward & Co. Catalogs, as well as price comparisons from then to now. Such contraptions were worn by men, women, children, and even babies. Who knew?
Throughout the 19th century, ladies undergarments remained quite similar. Drawers (or bloomers), yesteryear’s most related item to today’s panties, ranged from knee- to ankle-length, were constructed of various fabrics, and were held up by a button or drawstring, with an open crotch.
Item listings in vintage catalogs and magazines illustrate the standard items available via mail-order throughout the United States Victorian era.