Victorian Era – Britain
This era refers to the time period of Queen Victoria, who ruled England from 1837 – 1901. This is the time when women’s fashions really came into the forefront, with voluminous dresses made from expensive fabrics and trimmings worn in a multitude of shades and colours. Tight, corseted waistlines, hoops and expensive garb and hairdos showed off wealth and status.
In England, the Victorian era marked a period of peace and prosperity, with an emphasis on morality and refinement. It was also a time of huge innovation and Britain developed a sense of national pride due to her achievements during this time.
Socially speaking, Victorians were strait-laced, with good morals and virtue expected in social circles. It was a time when sexual restraint, low tolerance and a strict social code of conduct was normal. Any deviation from the norm, and one was seen as an individual of loose morals and with a poor set of values. Industriousness, hard work and a very high work ethic was expected by every employer.
Victorian Era and Fashions – America
American Victorian Era refers to the same time period, that is 1837 – 1901. The name was derived from the reign of Queen Victoria, which reflected British cultural influence in virtually all aspects of life, from clothing, mannerisms, morality to home décor and so on.
The time period saw upheavals and social changes such as the Women’s suffrage movement and Republican political domination. It endured the upheavals of the time such as the American Civil War, during which time thousands of young men between the ages of 18 – 35 lost their lives. The North defeated the South and slavery was abolished. This led to a time period known as the Reconstruction.
American Victorian Values and Beliefs
This time period saw the Anglican church with a large influence and following, as well as a well-entrenched Catholic following, particularly among Irish immigrants. There were also many dissenting faiths, and a leaning towards dissent, and intellectual and scientific debate.
Agnosticism, advocated by Thomas H. Huxley (1825–1895), among others, offered an alternative to faith in the attempt to answer profound questions about the nature of being.
Victorianism came to be associated with patriarchal social values, stressing the importance of family and an image of motherhood.
Take a look at this newspaper article, which describes the etiquette norms of the times: