A Victorian Lady's Guide to Fashion and Beauty

A Victorian Lady's Guide to Fashion and Beauty

What did a Victorian lady wear for a walk in the park? How did she style her hair for an evening at the theatre? And what products might she have used to soothe a sunburn or treat an unsightly blemish? Mimi Matthews answers these questions and more as she takes readers on a decade-by-decade journey through Victorian fashion and beauty history.

Women’s clothing changed dramatically during the course of the Victorian era. Necklines rose, waistlines dropped, and Gothic severity gave way to flounces, frills, and an abundance of trimmings. Sleeves ballooned up and skirts billowed out. The crinoline morphed into the bustle and steam-moulded corsets cinched women’s waists ever tighter.

As fashion was evolving, so too were trends in ladies’ hair care and cosmetics. An era which began by prizing natural, barefaced beauty ended with women purchasing lip and cheek rouge, false hairpieces and pomades, and fashionable perfumes made with expensive spice oils and animal essences.

Using research from nineteenth century beauty books, fashion magazines, and ladies’ journals, Mimi Matthews brings the intricacies of a Victorian lady’s toilette into modern day focus. In the process, she gives readers a glimpse of the social issues that influenced women’s clothing and the societal outrage that was an all too frequent response to those bold females who used fashion and beauty as a means of asserting their individuality and independence.

Advance Reviews

“For all those who are interested in the evolution of Victorian women’s fashion and the often secret beauty rituals of the age, I can wholeheartedly recommend this book…those rich descriptions of what people wear in nineteenth century romance novels have come alive for me after reading Matthews work, and I can start to appreciate historical period dramas on a whole new level. This book has really enriched my experience of nineteenth century culture.” -My Inner Victorian

“It’s rare for me to purchase the same book in every format. A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion will be one of those exceptions…Mimi Matthews has answered every question you didn’t ask. She covers what was au courant in minute detail for each Victorian decade with descriptions and color illustrations. The Victorian lady’s toilette is literally covered from head to toe…This is an incredibly approachable reference book for laypersons and professionals. This will be a bible not only for lay enthusiasts but for professionals like historical recreationists, as well as film and theater costume consultants.” -Royalty B., NetGalley

“Instructive and enchanting together: the incredible variety of fashions and styles of the Victorian period are clearly explained, and the wonderful fashion illustrations enrich an already splendid volume in itself.” -Sara, NetGalley (translated from Italian)

A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty is a thorough study of the world of fashion and beauty in the higher classes of Victorian society. There is so much detail, enriched by wonderful illustrations, that it all comes to life and you can just imagine what it was like. Anyone interested in the time period should pounce on this. I like how it’s organised by decade, it makes things really clear. Not only does Matthews describe the fashion and beauty trends (hairstyles and cosmetics) of the decade, but she also explains the reasons for changes and what was going on in history at the time. Yet she manages to keep the whole thing entertaining and light despite basically bombarding you with interesting information…This is definitely a book I will eventually purchase so I can keep a hard copy at home.” -Camille, NetGalley

“A very good book, well written and well researched. It’s full of interesting facts and clear explanation of how the Victorian fashion worked. The illustration are very good. The book is really entertaining. Highly recommended!” -Anna, NetGalley

“This is a complete, fully detailed guide to women’s clothing and beauty habits in the Victorian Era. Accompanied by drawings, it is an interesting and informative guide, which is a must-have for everyone interested in that era.” -Ioanna, NetGalley

A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty was a delightful and informative read. Taking fashion and beauty in separate sections, the chapters moved from decade to decade, outlining the major fashions and changes during that period…A nicely presented, easy to read, quick guide to Victorian women’s fashion, which will be of interest to history buffs and of great use to writers of historical fiction.” -Nicki, NetGalley

“The subject interested me from the outset, I was very satisfied with the information I learned there, as much about the fashion, the materials, the different stylistic periods in the nineteenth century and some reasons related to these styles (for example, the role of the Crimean War)…I loved this book!” -Marie, NetGalley (translated from French)

A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty is a great introductory book to the world of Victorian primping. Clothing, hairstyles, and accessories are discussed decade by decade, and then by what was appropriate for different occasions. Hair and skin care are looked at, as well as cosmetics.” -Rachel, NetGalley

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