1830's-1840's Period in Fashion History presented by Apparel Search

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1830s and 1840s fashion in European and European-influenced clothing is characterized by an emphasis on breadth, initially at the shoulder and later in the hips, in contrast to the narrower silhouettes that had predominated between 1800 and the 1820s.

Women's fashions


In the 1830s, fashionable women's clothing styles had distinctive large "leg of mutton" or "gigot" sleeves, above large full conical skirts, ideally with a narrow, low waist between (achieved through corseting). The bulkiness of women's garments both above and below the waist was intended to make the waist look smaller than it was this was the final repudiation of any last lingering aesthetic influences of the Empire silhouette of ca. 1795-1825. Heavy stiff fabrics such as brocades came back into style, and many 18th-century gowns were brought down from attics and cut up into new garments. The combination of sloping shoulders and sleeves which were very large over most of the arm (but narrowing to a small cuff at the wrist) is quite distinctive to the day dresses of the 1830s.

Evening dresses had short, puffed sleeves reaching to the elbow from a dropped shoulder and were worn with mid-length gloves.

Pelerines, or lace coverings draped over the shoulders, were popular (one of several devices, along with full upper-arm sleeves and wide necklines, to emphasize the shoulders and their width). Around 1835, the fashionable skirt-length for middle- and upper-class women's clothes dropped from ankle-length to floor-length.

This ca. 1835 fashion plate shows both male and female styles (note that it may not be obvious on first glance that the woman has a small waist, because of her large sleeves):

Brocade satin dress, from Gazette des Salons, ca. 1835. (Note that it may not be obvious on first glance that the woman has a small waist, because of her big sleeves!)

Hairstyles and Headgear

1830s hair fashions for evening featured elaborate loops and knots extended out to both sides and up frome the back of the head. Bonnets with wide semicircular brims framed the face for street wear, and were heavily decorated.


The fashions of the 1840s do not have any real single distinguishing characteristic (such as most other periods of 5-10 years within the Victorian era do), but skirts tended to change from a conical shape to a bell shape, aided by a new method of attaching the skirts to the bodice using organ or cartridge pleats which cause the skirt to spring out from the waist. Sleeves were full over only part of the arm, and the fullness was lower. There was less emphasis on the shoulders, and more emphasis on a narrow waist, which now became pointed.

During the 1830s and 1840s, full skirts were achieved mainly through layers of petticoats, as opposed to the crinoline of the second half of the 1850s.

Hairstyles and Headgear

Women's hairstyles were notable for having several isolated long curls dangling down towards the front (sometimes called "spaniel curls"), often without much relationship to the way that the rest of the hair was styled.

Bonnets for street wear were smaller than in the previous decade, and were less heavily decorated.

1833 Fashoin plate

The above article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1830s_and_1840s_in_fashion  1/14/06

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1830's-1840's Fashion History

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