The Metropolitan Museum of Art
*grabby hands* Look at all that velvet. Bet that gown weighs a ton.
You know, this is a little glimpse into the lives of people in the 1800s. Think about Victorian-style houses—things like narrow stairs, no closets, etc. etc. Now think about a woman’s wardrobe. Storing all these clothes. Getting into and out of them. Keeping them in shape. How you’d have to decide what to wear days in advance just so that you or your maid (everybody had to have a maid in those days; can you imagine living in that time without having an extra set of hands to help you with things like lifting hot cast-iron soup pots filled with stew?) can pull the gown out of wherever it’s stored so it can be cleaned and brushed and aired and floofed.
And think about navigating in one of these things. How do you get to the ball? How much trouble is it just to get in a carriage? Can you get in a carriage? Walking around in a room full of people. Dancing in a room full of people. Sitting in a room full of people. What happens if you spill something on the dress?
We think of Georgian and Victorian eras as being laced around with impenetrable, incomprehensible, ridiculous rules. But some of that stuff? It was not an attempt to formalize society or drag things out. Some of it was just how things had to be done given what they were doing and the tools they had to work with.
I have been reading the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger, and for a steampunk/supernatural series, there is a huge amount of insight into the daily functions of upper-class Victorian women. It’s billed as a supernatural comedy o manners, which is pretty apt.
Morning dress, day dress, walking dress, dinner dress, evening dress… All with freaking bustles and corsets and things. No wonder these women all needed a lady’s maid and the men all needed valets.