Victorian and Victoriandustrial Style
How to get victorian and victoriandustrial style, from corsets and chokers to boots and attitude.
Plague rats and mad girls trapped in Victorian asylums… Such is the world of victoriandustrial fashion. Become a wayward mistress of industrial Victorian style and rise to the ranks of Emilie Autumn, Hannah Fury, and other wayward Victorian girls…
Get into Victoriandustrial character
Don’t you fret – you haven’t unknowingly entered an acting class. But in order to look the part you must tap into your inner lunatic Victorian. Do whatever it takes, short of actually going insane, to get a feel for being a patient in Bedlam (Bethlehem Hospital for mad ladies) or any other 19th century asylum, leeches and all.
My personal favourite victoriandustrial artist is Emilie Autumn (singer, electric violinist, and wayward victorian girl who coined the term victoriandustrial). Listening to music as you dress in your finest victoriana will help put you in the mood. Emilie Autumn is one choice – others might include Rasputina, Hannah Fury, The Birthday Massacre, and Abney Park. Even if the band isn’t explicitly “victorian”, it can still have thematic elements (think The Dresden Dolls or The Cruxshadows).
A well-bred Victorian girl would have been solidly tutored in history, geography, french declentions and such, although too much reading and writing in anything other than in a diary was a little beyond the pale, and probably required a male pseudonym.
There is, however, some wonderful victorian literature that’s sure to place you firmly in a past age! Lewis Carroll is always great – the frilly madness of Alice in Wonderland is tailor-made for a wayward Victorian. Other reading matter could include Charles Baudelaire’s then-scandalous book of poetry, Les Fleurs du mal, and (though technically not Victorian) anything by Virginia Woolf, among many others. Modern steampunk literature also nods towards a romanticed Victorian age, albeit a hugely technical one. Consider reading ‘The Diamond Age’ by Neal Stephenson, or ‘The Difference Engine’ by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. Ooh, and don’t forget the work of mister H.G.Wells, or indeed Jules Verne…
Now you’ve immersed yourself in the Victorian mind, you need to fuse Victorian style with the modern age…
First off, you’re going to need a corset. I won’t go into detail about the technical aspects of corset shopping, as there are already some splendid articles on Mookychick covering that, but I will tell you that for a wayward Victorian girl, the right corset can truly make the outfit.
You have two options as far as the design goes – either keep it simple with a solid color (typically white, black, or red, but feel free to choose what suits you), or go for a pattern that’s as sadistically Victorian as you are. Some good places to look for corsets are included at the end of this article.
Victorian bloomers, skirts, and the like
Trousers for ladies were simply unheard of in the 19th century, even within the halls of the asylum. ‘Tis time to invest in a nice skirt or two (or if you feel a bit daring, simply a pair of bloomers). I’d recommend a nice bustle skirt unless you have some lovely stockings that need to be displayed – in which case, push the envelope of the Victorian era and go for something shorter and deconstructed.
As for bloomers, that’s a bit harder, because you’ll often end up looking at “modesty bloomers” instead of “victoriandustrialsexy bloomers”. Again, sources for both bloomers and skirts will be supplied further down, Dear Reader!
Maquillage (AKA makeup, AKA whorish paint)
During the Victorian Era, looks truly could kill. Lipstick would quite likely contain mercury, eyeshadow was made of lead, and eyes sparkled due to deadly nightshade powder. Luckily, due to the wonder of science, today we can achieve beauty without fatality.
For victoriandustrial ladies, the goal is to look like a dark porcelain doll. Foundation should be light, but not too pasty, for the porcelain ideal. Heavy and dark eye makeup is always nice – the Victorians didn’t do it, but we shall! Lip colour can vary from shocking reds to dark rouges to nude tones. Practice will lead to the perfect victoriandustrial look.
Victoriandustrial shoes, brooches, and other lovelies
As far as victoriandustrial shoes go, it’s safe to say that if you stick to traditional goth footwear, you should be fine, as long as you avoid getting too casual. A nice pair of black “stompy-stomp” boots should do you just fine. Accompany these boots with a pair of stockings – traditionally striped, but be creative! Another good thing about victoriandustrial fashion – there is no need to throw away your torn stockings anymore. Wear them with pride and say the torn and dishevelled look is intentional.
Jewelry can also add flair to your victoriandustrial outfit. Brooches were popular back in the 19th century – you can buy specialized victoriandustrial ones from Vecona, but you can also get potentially amazing ones from browsing thrift shops, or even making your own. All it really takes is some clay, a pin, and a hot glue gun. Lace chokers were also popular in the Victorian era, and both lockets and necklaces made out of antique keys and ribbon go quite well with Victoriana. The Victorians were obssessed with death, loss and memory, and often kept locks of their loved ones’ hair in lockets. You could do the same. You could keep your own hair in a locket, if you’re a terribly vain creature. Interesting wayward jewelry is everywhere, once you open your eyes.
Wayward Victorian lifestyle
There’s no need to cut off your electricity or sell matches in the gutter – but do consider a victoriandustrial tea party. You and your guests can sip breakfast tea and discuss which “illnesses” would be most likely to get you locked in a 19th century mental institution, and their respective treatments. Nothing like discussing leech therapy over scones.
As for etiquette, it’s well-known that the Victorians had fiercely-held opinions on good manners. “Deny yourselves and serve others, be seen and not heard…”-what’s a wayward Victorian girl to do? Well, you must remember that the operative term is wayward. Feel free to ignore some of the puritanical taboos. Victoriandustrialism isn’t about conforming to social expectations, rather the opposite.
Go forth, urchin! Explore the world of Victoriandustrial fashion until you reach a perfect balance between Victorian and industrial. And once you’re done, treat yourself to tea and crumpets – and make sure not to let the leeches or caddish gentlemen bite.
Victoriandustrial Fashion Links
- Vecona – These are items you’d want to save up for but Vecona has great quality, and equally great designs. Don’t forget to check out her jewelry section too – it’s simply amazing.
- Etsy – Do a search for corset, bloomers, bustle skirt, etc. Quantity is hit or miss, but they have unique, homemade designs, and prices are usually great.
- Fairy Goth Mother – A great source for corsets if you want a really well-made one and have a bit of cash to splash.
- Ebay – Again, do a search for whatever item you’re looking for. Quality and quantity varies, but prices can be amazing, plus you have a great amount of variety.
Chamber-rock group Rasputina. Note the shawls, parasols, feathers, lace, silk and long natural hair.
The Birthday Massacre. Girls should wear underwear and ribbons. Boys should all look like Severus Snape.
Hannah Fury. Big flouncy ball gowns, ribbons, dried flowers and long-sleeved gloves are a must. Don’t forget the gloves – bare hands in public is most unseemly. Lace gloves at all times!
Steampunk goth band Abney Park are only too aware of the importance of parasols and long-sleeved gloves. Boys take note – a telescope, ruched shirt, leather jacket, spiked hair and goggles are a steampunk must.
Violin-playing besom Emilie Autumn models herself on Mrs. Lovett in a state of undress.