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The Art of Dress
Costume in Detail
A Dictionary of Costume
From Queen to Empress
Patterns of Fashion 1
Patterns of Fashion 2
The Way We Wore

From Empress to Queen: Victorian Dress 1837-1877
By Caroline Goldthorpe

I came across this book, saw the smallness of its size and concluded that it wasn't worth my time to read. However, I should never judge a book by its cover! While a thin book, it covers 40 years of fashion during Queen Victoria's reign with plenty of text and illustrations to accompany it.

The book is based upon an exhibit in the late 1980s of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute. Scrumptious color photos are on many pages, picturing extant gowns from the Institute's collection. It is interesting to note the change in pattern and color of the gowns over 40 years, and the photographs replace what so many book's black and white sketches leave to the imagination. Some of the gowns pictured have exquisite embroidery or ornate fabric usage that so distinguishes Victorian gowns.

From Queen to Empress is divided up into chapters: "Royal Influence", "Day Dress", "Weddings", "In Mourning" and "At Court", to name some. The chapters that I found most interesting were those dealing with wedding and mourning wear. Several extant gowns are pictured, contemporary articles and book excerpts sited, and details given about things such as the length and stages of Victorian mourning.

As interesting as I find this book, I must caution though, that the book deals mainly with the upper classes of English and American societies. Therefore for those interested in other class dress, it would not be a suitable resource, as it does not touch much on that of middle and lower class fashion.

Overall however, it is a fascinating look at society and fashion of the Victorian era. Sadly, this book is out of print. Checking at your local library, doing an inter library loan or searching online are ways to get hold of a copy of this book.-Reviewed by Miss C.


4 stars out of 5

Artwork is October (1877) by James Tissot, courtesy of CGFA.

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2003 Across the Ages