Western fashion history 1830s

1830s fashion in Western and Western-influenced fashion is characterized by an emphasis on breadth, initially at the shoulder and later in the hips, in contrast to the narrower silhouettes that had predominated between 1800-1820.

Women’s costume featured larger sleeves than were worn in any period before or since, which were accompanied by elaborate hairstyles and large hats.

The final months of the 1830s saw the proliferation of a revolutionary new technology—photography. Hence, the infant industry of photographic portraiture preserved for history a few rare, but invaluable, first images of human beings—and therefore also preserved our earliest, live peek into “fashion in action”—and its impact on everyday life and society as a whole.

General trends
The prevalent trend of Romanticism from the 1820s through the mid-1840s, with its emphasis on strong emotion as a source of aesthetic experience and its recognition of the picturesque, was reflected in fashion as in other arts. Items of historical dress including neck ruffs, ferronnières (jeweled headbands worn across the forehead), and sleeves based on styles of earlier periods were popular.

Innovations in roller printing on textiles introduced new dress fabrics. Rich colors such as the Turkey red of the 1820s were still found, but delicate floral prints on light backgrounds were increasingly popular. More precise printing eliminated the need for dark outlines on printed designs, and new green dyes appeared in patterns of grasses, ferns, and unusual florals. Combinations of florals and stripes were fashionable.

In France, under the reign of Louis-Philippe (1830-1848) the fashion is getting better. Until 1835, the female silhouette evolves little: bare shoulders by the boat neckline covered with large collar lingerie, said canezous, kind of embroidered chiffon pilgrim whose sides are passed under the very wide belt. Sleeves leg (which was very tight) are swollen to the elbow and narrow on the forearm. The skirts eat thanks to a petticoat called crinoline and now cover the shoe. The hairstyle is simplified: the knot of Apollo is replaced by a braided bun and flat bands cover the ears. Huge hats disappear to make room for small hoods prefiguring the of the next decade.

The historisante tendency of the decorative arts, appeared since the First Empire, and in particular the Louis XV influence of the years 1830, begin to modify the feminine silhouette. The right skirt begins to swell, and this since 1825. In order to reach the desired circumference, women superimpose the petticoats. In 1830, César-Louis Oudinot-Lutel invented a cotton or linen fabric stiffened by a horsehair frame. Used in the manufacture of petticoats, the textile can support the silhouette corolla, and is called the crinoline . During the 1840s, the skirt progressively gained in volume and weight: “From 1841 to 1846, we pulled ourselves together by wrapping around the hips with a padded reinforcement that, adding to the skirts, gave a bell-like appearance to the dress worn on. Indeed, women superimpose the petticoats, which can reach the number of seven.

Overall, both men’s and women’s fashion showed width at the shoulder above a tiny waist. Men’s coats were padded in the shoulders and across the chest, while women’s shoulders sloped to huge sleeves.

Women’s fashions
In the 1830s, fashionable women’s clothing styles had distinctive large “leg of mutton” or “gigot” sleeves, above large full conical skirts, ideally with a narrow, low waist between (achieved through corseting). The bulkiness of women’s garments both above and below the waist was intended to make the waist look smaller than it was — this was the final repudiation of any last lingering aesthetic influences of the Empire silhouette of c. 1795–1825. Heavy stiff fabrics such as brocades came back into style, and many 18th-century gowns were brought down from attics and cut up into new garments. The combination of sloping shoulders and sleeves which were very large over most of the arm (but narrowing to a small cuff at the wrist) is quite distinctive to the day dresses of the 1830s.

Pelerines, tippets, or lace coverings draped over the shoulders, were popular (one of several devices, along with full upper-arm sleeves and wide necklines, to emphasize the shoulders and their width).

The fashionable feminine figure, with its sloping shoulders, rounded bust, narrow waist and full hips, was emphasized in various ways with the cut and trim of gowns. To about 1835, the small waist was accentuated with a wide belt (a fashion continuing from the 1820s). Later the waist and midriff were unbelted but cut close to the body, and the bodice began to taper to a small point at the front waist. The fashionable corset now had gores to individually cup the breasts, and the bodice was styled to emphasize this shape.

Evening gowns had very wide necklines and short, puffed sleeves reaching to the elbow from a dropped shoulder, and were worn with mid-length gloves. The width at the shoulder was often emphasized by gathered or pleated panels of fabric arranged horizontally over the bust and around the shoulders.

Morning dresses generally had high necklines, and shoulder width was emphasized with tippets or wide collars that rested on the gigot sleeves. Summer afternoon dresses might have wide, low necklines similar to evening gowns, but with long sleeves. Skirts were pleated into the waistband of the bodice, and held out with starched petticoats of linen or cotton.

Around 1835, the fashionable skirt-length for middle- and upper-class women’s clothes dropped from ankle-length to floor-length.

Hairstyles and Headgear
Early 1830s hair was parted in the center and dressed in elaborate curls, loops and knots extending out to both sides and up from the crown of the head. Braids were fashionable, and were likewise looped over either ear and gathered into a topknot.

Bonnets with wide semicircular brims framed the face for street wear, and were heavily decorated with trim, ribbons, and feathers.

Married women wore a linen or cotton cap for daywear, trimmed with lace, ribbon, and frills, and tied under the chin. The cap was worn alone indoors and under the bonnet for street wear.

For evening wear, hair ornaments including combs, ribbons, flowers, and jewels were worn; other options included berets and turbans.

Women’s undergarments consisted of a knee-length linen chemise with straight, elbow length sleeves. Corsets compressed the waist and skirts were held in shape by layers of starched petticoats, stiffened with tucks and cording. The full sleeves were supported by down-filled sleeve plumpers.

Riding habits consisted of a high-necked, tight-waisted jacket with the fashionable dropped shoulder and huge gigot sleeves, worn over a tall-collared shirt or chemisette, with a long matching petticoat or skirt. Tall top hats with veils were worn.

Shawls were worn with short-sleeved evening gowns early in the decade, but they were not suited to the wide gigot sleeves of the mid-1830s.

Full-length mantles were worn to about 1836, when mantles became shorter. A mantlet or shawl-mantlet was a shaped garment like a cross between a shawl and a mantle, with points hanging down in front. The burnous was a three-quarter length mantle with a hood, named after the similar garment of Arabia. The paletot was knee-length, with three cape-collars and slits for the arms, and the pardessus was half or three-quarter length coat with a defined waist and sleeves.

For evening, voluminous mantles of velvet or satin, with fur trim or fur linings in cold climates, were worn with the evening gown.

Low, square-toed slippers were made of fabric or leather for daytime and of satin for evening wear. Low boots with elastic insets appeared in this decade.

Style gallery






1.1833 Fashion Plate: evening gown (left) and two morning dresses. The lady on the right wears a fichu-pelerine (tippet).
2.By the later 1830s, fullness was moving from the upper to the lower sleeves. This morning dress of 1836–40 features shirring on the fitted upper sleeves; Victoria and Albert Museum.
3.Jane Digby wears her hair in corkscrew curls on the sides. The back of her hair is braided and pinned to her head, 1831.
4.This portrait shows the pleated panels of fabric that trim the gown around the bust and shoulders, and the method of gathering fullness in the large sleeves. 1832.
5.Sleeve plumpers, corset, chemise and petticoat of the 1830s, Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Men’s fashion
In this time, men’s fashion plates continue to show an ideal silhouette with broad shoulders, and a narrow, tightly cinched waist.

Coats and waistcoats
Frock coats (in French redingotes) increasingly replaced tail coats for informal day wear. They were calf length, and might be double-breasted. Shoulder emphasis fell lower on the arm; shoulders were sloped and puffed sleeve heads gradually shrank and then disappeared. Waistcoats or vests were single- or double-breasted, with rolled shawl or (later) notched collars, and extremely tight through the waist. Waistcoats were sometimes worn two at time, in contrasting colors. Corsets or corset-like garments were worn by many men to draw in the waistline. The most fashionable coats had padded shoulders and chests, a feature that disappeared after about 1837.

Full-length trousers began to have the modern fly-front closure, replacing the earlier fall-front. Breeches remained a requirement for formal functions at the British court (as they would be throughout the century). Breeches continued to be worn for horseback riding and other country pursuits, especially in Britain, with tall fitted boots.

Cloaks were worn with evening wear. Overcoats with wide sleeves were worn with day wear; these were often called greatcoats.

Hats and hairstyles
The crowns of tall hats were less curvy than in the previous period. Hair was generally parted to one side. Curled hair and sideburns remained fashionable, along with moustaches.

Style gallery



3 – 1830s

4 – 1838

5 – 1832

1.A group of Danish artists in Rome, 1837. Frock coats, fly-front trousers (some with straps under the instep), tall hats, and dark cravats are characteristic of the period.
2.Men’s fashion silhouette of 1837 shows broad shoulders and a narrow, tightly cinched waist.
3.1830s fashion plate shows the small, high waist that was the ideal of French fashion in the 1830s. Frock coat (left) and morning coat (right).
4.Zoo proprietor Edward Cross wears a red and black patterned waistcoat with brown trousers and a black tailcoat, cravat, and top hat, 1838.
5.Frederik Sødring wears a brocade waistcoat with a high black velvet shawl collar. The front flap of his fall-front trousers can be seen clearly in this 1832 portrait. Note the taper of the waistcoat toward the tight waist.

Children’s fashion
In this period, small boys wore sashed tunics over trousers, sometimes with a round-collared shirt underneath. By the 1830s the skeleton suit had fallen out of fashion. Older boys wore short jackets and trousers with round-collared shirts.

Girls wore simplified versions of women’s fashion.

Spanish boy, 1830

German boy, 1830

Austrian boy and girl, 1834

France, 1834

Germany, 1837

Source from Wikipedia