Victorian Fashion from Godey – Cascoly Image Galleries

Victorian fashion from the 1861 editions of Godey’s Lady’s Book epitomize the elegance and complexity of mid-19th century fashion. This popular magazine, which was a leading authority on women’s fashion, showcased a variety of styles that highlighted the opulent and meticulous nature of Victorian attire.

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Women at a ball wearing Victorian era dresses, Civil War era, from 1861 Godey’s Lady’s Book published in Philadelphia
Women wearing Victorian fashion era dresses, Civil War era, from 1861 Godey's Lady's Book published in Philadelphia
Three dresses – The Medora, the Garibaldi and the Imogene, Civil War era, from 1861 Godey’s Lady’s Book published in Philadelphia

Women at a ball wearing Victorian era dresses, Civil War era, from 1861 Godey’s Lady’s Book published in Philadelphia
Promenade dress, Zouave suit for boy, Civil War era, from 1861 Godey’s Lady’s Book published in Philadelphia

Silhouettes and Structure


The Victorian fashion featured in Godey’s Lady’s Book were characterized by their voluminous skirts, which were supported by crinolines or hoop skirts. This gave the gowns a bell-shaped silhouette that was both grand and imposing. The bodices were fitted and often included boning to maintain a structured and defined shape, cinching the waist and accentuating an hourglass figure.

Women at a ball wearing Victorian era dresses, Civil War era, from 1861 Godey’s Lady’s Book published in Philadelphia
Women at a ball wearing Victorian era dresses, Civil War era, from 1861 Godey’s Lady’s Book published in Philadelphia

Fabrics and Materials


Rich fabrics such as silk, taffeta, and velvet were commonly used, often adorned with intricate lace, ribbons, and embroidery. The luxurious materials not only signified wealth and status but also added to the overall aesthetic appeal of the garments.

Euphemia silk dress, Civil War era, from 1861 Godey’s Lady’s Book published in Philadelphia
The Zouave dress, Civil War era, from 1861 Godey’s Lady’s Book published in Philadelphia

Details and Decorations


Victorian fashion from this period featured a myriad of decorative elements. Lace trim, ruffles, and bows were popular embellishments, adding layers of texture and visual interest. Sleeves were typically long and narrow, though variations included puffed or bell-shaped designs. High necklines were prevalent, often complemented by lace collars or jabots.

Women at a ball wearing Victorian era dresses, Civil War era, from 1861 Godey’s Lady’s Book published in Philadelphia
Women at a ball wearing Victorian era dresses, Civil War era, from 1861 Godey’s Lady’s Book published in Philadelphia

Accessories


The dresses were frequently accompanied by a range of accessories. Bonnets adorned with flowers and ribbons were essential for outdoor wear, while gloves, parasols, and fans completed the ensemble. Jewelry, including brooches and cameos, provided the finishing touch, reflecting the wearer’s personal taste and social standing.

Women at a ball wearing Victorian era dresses, Civil War era, from 1861 Godey’s Lady’s Book published in Philadelphia
Women at a ball wearing Victorian era dresses, Civil War era, from 1861 Godey’s Lady’s Book published in Philadelphia

Colors and Patterns


While the Victorian fashion palette often leaned towards darker, more subdued colors like deep blues, rich browns, and black, brighter hues and elaborate patterns were also in vogue for day dresses. Floral prints and plaids added a touch of whimsy and individuality to the otherwise formal attire.

Women at a ball wearing Victorian era dresses, Civil War era, from 1861 Godey’s Lady’s Book published in Philadelphia
Women at a ball wearing Victorian era dresses, Civil War era, from 1861 Godey’s Lady’s Book published in Philadelphia

Day vs. Evening Wear


Day dresses were typically more conservative, designed for practicality and modesty. They often featured higher necklines and simpler decoration. In contrast, evening gowns were more elaborate and revealing, with lower necklines and more intricate details, suitable for social gatherings and events.

Women wearing Victorian era dresses, Civil War era, from 1861 Godey’s Lady’s Book published in Philadelphia
Women wearing Victorian era dresses, Civil War era, from 1861 Godey’s Lady’s Book published in Philadelphia

Jigsaw puzzle: Women at a ball wearing Victorian era dresses, Civil War era, from 1861 Godey’s Lady’s Book published in Philadelphia

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  • By Cascoly

    I've been exploring and leading trips for over 40 years. climbing & trekkng in the Alps, Andes, North American mountain ranges and the Himalaya. I'm retired from mountaineering now but world travels in Europe, Africa & Asia continue to expand my portfolio. Besides private travel, I now focus on escorting trips to India & Turkey. Other interests include wide reading in history and vegetable gardening / cooking. You can download digital images here, or find images at https://steve-estvanik.pixels.com. We have many thousands of images we haven't displayed yet; so, if you have a special need or request please contact us