How did young girls keep warm
during the Victorian era?
At the end of the 19th century, cloth jackets with double or triple shoulder capes were in great favor with Victorian girls from ten to fourteen years of age. The warmly lined coats were typically semi-fitted and double breasted with large white buttons. The above school photo illustrates a variety of styles of Victorian coats in the late 1890s.
Popular colors in Victorian clothing for children were black, light tan, chestnut brown, gray-blue, green, dark red, and various shades of blue. Double breasted ulsters for schoolgirls to wear in rain or shine were of striped or plaid wool with detachable military style capes.
From Godey’s Lady’s Book, 1892
Fig. 14. Cloak for Victorian girl of ten years made of navy-blue diagonal, the fronts are loose; the back with plaits at the waist. High collar. The sleeves, pockets, collar and front and back are trimmed with braid finished with loops at the ends. Hat of velvet trimmed with velvet and ribbon.
Fig. 15. Jacket for Victorian girls of fifteen years, made of fine striped cloth; it has loose fronts, tight back, and is double-breasted. Turban hat trimmed with wide ribbon bows.
Fig. 16. Cloak for Victorian girl of eight years, made of dark-green camel’s-hair; it is long enough to cover the frock, with double-breasted loose fronts, tight back. The sleeves are full into a deep cuff trimmed with rows of stitching. Deep rolling collar of Astrakhan. Sailor hat of velvet.
The smaller Victorian child of the 1890s wore elaborate coats in smooth wools, silks and velvets. These coats fit snug about the waist and flared out around the skirts. Gigot or leg-of-mutton sleeves with extremely full sleeve-tops were in the very height of fashion. Often an overpowering bertha ruffle edged the yoke of the coat and topped the gigot sleeves as seen in the period photograph below. Dark greens, reds, and black velvet, trimmed with fur or white lace were popular choices of Victorian clothing for children in the mid-1890s. It was also fashionable to don a matching hat or bonnet.
On the right is a coat featured in Harper’s Bazar in 1896 described as “a matching coat and hat is worn by a young girl from three to four years of age. Two wide box pleats extend from the neckline and are decorated with ornamental silk trimmings. Both the coat and matching hat are edged with fur.”
In 1894, “Best & Company” advertised a silk coat with a matching cap for a toddler of one to two years for the price of $1.65. The outer garment was made with a yoke and pointed shoulder capes joined to a full gathered skirt. The cape, collar and sleeves were trimmed with beaver. [Harper's Bazar, 1894]
[Top photo: Library of Congress. #LC-D4-13624]