Fashion in 1837 Great Britain

The 1830’s were an interesting time for fashion. The beginning of the decade saw enormous puffed sleeves on ladies’ dresses, high waists on men’s trousers and ladies’ dresses. Ladies hair was piled high on top of their heads.

Ladies Cabinet of Fashion, 1837

By 1837 these wild fashion trends had begun to calm down. As 1837 began, the hem of women’s gowns began to lengthen and the sleeves became tighter, but the puffed sleeves had not disappeared from all gowns just yet. The trend was moving towards long tight-fitting sleeves, which was in stark contrast form the beginning the decade. Embellishment on the sleeves were common with some having puffs or bouffant on the upper arms or knots of ribbon on the shoulders.[1] Short sleeves were also tight to the arm, but they were often so heavily trimmed with tulle, lace, and ruffles that they appeared to be much fuller than they actually were.

For everyday wear, bodices were plaid and tight to the figure. The waists moved down to the natural waist line. While wearing dresses in the morning hours, many ladies wore a Fichu Corday over their gown. A Fichu Corday is a piece of grenadine gauze worn like a shawl to cross over the bosom and then tie behind. The bosom was sometimes partly open, revealing the chemisette beneath. A full skirt was accomplished by wearing multiple starched petticoats. The pelisse-robe was still popular. [2]

1837-1840 and Child’s Dress, 1830s | Chester County Historical Society

The pelisse-robe was named from the Latin word pellicus, meaning “made of skin,”[3].The pelisse was a loose cape made of fur, velvet, or satin and lined or trimmed with fur. This garment was popular during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The pelisse was a warm outer garment, and it was commonly worn by women and children. It was kind of combination cloak and coat, the pelisse usually had a large collar, though some had hoods to give even more protection from the weather.  

The length of the pelisse varied from ankle length to hip length, and the fashionable length changed from year to year, the way women’s skirt hemlines did during the mid-twentieth century. Most pelisses had slits in the front for the hands to reach through, but some were designed with short or long sleeves, making them resemble a loose, flowing coat. The design is thought to be an example of Middle Eastern influence on European styles. [4] 

1837 Maria Ivanovna Kochubey, née Princess Baryatinskaya by A. Sotta

Accessories also showed influence from the Middle East. Head necklaces became popular, with most having a gemstone or charm that hung in the center of the wearer’s forehead. It was also a popular fashion trend to wear multiple rings on one’s hand. Some of the popular gem stones in this year were amber, amethyst, diamonds, emeralds, and garnets. But the most popular times were matching bracelets that would be worn on each wrist and large broaches that were worn on the center bust. Popular motifs that were featured on these large broaches included eyes, hands, hearts, anchors, crosses, arrows, clovers, love knots, vines, and leaves.[5]

In 1837 the Ladies Cabinet of Fashion magazine described a visiting dress,saying “The robe is composed of one of the new mousselines Cachemires; the corsage is half high, square, fitting tight to the shape, and a little pointed at the bottom.  Long tight sleeves, made to fit the arm; they are trimmed with manchettes of white grenadine gauze, disposed in a double bias fold, and set on just above the elbow, being headed by a band and knot of pink ribbon; plain tight cuffs en suite, ornament the bottoms of the sleeves.  Rice-straw hat; a low crown without any curtain, and a brim of excessive depth, standing quite out from the face; a band and knot of pink ribbon, and a sprig of white lilac, decorate the crown.  Fichu Corday of grenadine gauze; it is bordered by abroad hem, through which a pink ribbon is run, and the ends, tied at the bottom of the waist behind, fall low over the skirt.”[6]

Evening dresses in1837 changed little from the previous years.  Bodices were still cut low and off the shoulders.  Skirts were long, full, and sometimes trimmed with a several flounces of lace on the bottom of the skirt.  Open robes remained very popular, which meant the dress had an upside down “V” cut in the overskirt revealing an under petticoat. Lace was very popular and could be used to trim the sleeves as well as the skirt. The waist was extenuated and synched in by a ribbon belt at the waist.[7]

[1]  November 30, 2015. “The 1830s in Fashionable Gowns: A Visual Guide to the Decade.” Mimi Matthews, http://www.mimimatthews.com/2015/11/30/the-1830s-in-fashionable-gowns-a-visual-guide-to-the-decade/.

[2] Ibid.

[3] “Pelisse.” Fashion Encyclopedia, http://www.fashionencyclopedia.com/fashion_costume_culture/European-Culture-19th-Century/Pelisse.html#ixzz5XduruDQd.

[4] Ibid.

[5] “A Guide to Early Victorian Romantic Period Jewelry.” International Gem Society, http://www.gemsociety.org/article/victorian-period-jewelry-1837-1860/.

[6]“The Walking Dress.” Ladies Cabinet of Fashion, 1837.

[7] November 30, 2015. “The 1830s in Fashionable Gowns” �H�]�R0c`�

1 thought on “Fashion in 1837 Great Britain”

  1. It is interesting, sometimes looking back we seem to think that fashions stayed they same and it was simple to be ‘in style’ but I guess it just goes to show that fashion will be fashion.


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