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Fashion: Carriage Dress

Characteristics of the fashion worn while riding in a carriage

In the Georgian era, carriage dress—an ensemble of round gown and outerwear, was worn for riding in Hyde Park during the fashionable hour, walking gardens, and even promenading. The outerwear worn over the round gown should be as fashionable and stylish as the gown itself.

In the Victorian era, carriage dress was used only for carriage rides and calls, thus also referring to this ensemble as visiting dress. It was not fit for walking or promenading, though, as it usually had a long train and lengthy hem (to keep the ankles covered when seated), making it unfit for doing more than sitting prettily and walking from carriage to front door to call on someone.

While any gown could be used for any purpose, the gowns were designed for a specific task. For example, a ball gown would be designed for dancing by having a shorter hem to prevent the lady from tripping and being of light fabric with short sleeves in anticipation of a hot and sweaty ballroom, while a walking gown would have a fuller bodice to allow room for a tucked fichu, and be of warmer and heavier fabrics with longer sleeves to stave off chill and other elements.

There are plenty of design differences across the dress types, but this is just a taste to see how the design fit the purpose.

Enjoy these resources about carriage dress:

Candice Hern's Carriage Dresses Archives

Hope Greenberg's It's All in the Details: Gowns

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