Looking to the Future
“The Queen is most anxious to enlist every one who can speak of or write to join in checking this mad, wicked folly of “Women’s Rights”, with all its attendant horrors, on which her poor feeble sex is bent, forgetting every sense of womanly feeling and propriety.” Victoria, Queen of Great Britain, 1819-1901
I find the pictures for this post rather meaningful in light of the opinion expressed above. Throughout the nineteenth century, men were finding their own social accommodation to dress, while women were weighed down with the consequences of feminine fashion. This was the very period when questioning began in earnest. Had men become too important for fashion? Was it now just a device to be tossed to the womenfolk, something for them to worry their poor, feeble minds with?
I don’t know about you, but the defiance of the girl seen above has more to do than a simple illustration for a book on etiquette. Professional opportunities for women were few. One could be a teacher, seamstress or milliner, and more recently, a nurse. Women on the stage were still considered to have questionable morals. Women’s suffrage was a movement waiting to be born. In the meantime, young women were caught between the embedded dress codes of society and the subtle winds of change.