Why Jess Wants to Visit the Victorian Era (But Not Live There)

I love the romanticism of the late Victorian era.

Going via horse-drawn carriage to call on friends and leaving a crisp calling card if they’re not at home. Writing letters to far-flung family by candlelight. The notion of being courted – of walks through the park and carriage rides, of every glance and the slightest brush of hands being heightened, of formal dances!

But let’s be honest. What I really love are the dresses.

worth 2

gold dress

dress 5

dress 4

Worth 1

(There are lots more at my Tumblr.)

The fact is, though, I suspect all of it sounds a great deal more romantic than it actually was. Personal hygiene was still a bit suspect by modern standards. One would have to be awfully patient, waiting to hear back from letters (not my forte). All those romantic moments would have to be strictly chaperoned, and a girl could get herself talked about all too easily (er, maybe that hasn’t changed…). And if you weren’t of the upper class, imagine all the drudgery of housework (strictly a woman’s burden at the time), much of which has been alleviated by modern conveniences. Also, wearing a zillion layers of clothing would be cumbersome and hot and downright annoying after awhile, no?

But let’s be honest. The real deal-breaker is the lack of women’s rights. Being considered property of your father and then your husband? Not having access to higher education? Not being able to vote? No thank you.

So, I’d quite like to visit and wear a House of Worth dress and dance with a handsome gentleman at a ball – and then come back to my 21st century comforts.

Jess3blogJess Spotswood grew up in a tiny one-stoplight town in Pennsylvania, where she could be found swimming, playing  the clarinet, memorizing lines for the school play, or – most often – with her nose in a book. She’s been writing since fourth grade but studied theatre in college and grad school. Now she lives in Washington, DC with her brilliant playwright husband and a cuddly cat named Monkey. BORN WICKED, Book 1 in The Cahill Witch Chronicles, is her first novel. Book 2, STAR CURSED, will be out in June 2013. 
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8 thoughts on “Why Jess Wants to Visit the Victorian Era (But Not Live There)

  1. YES to those dresses (especially the last one). And yes to being courted. But I agree, yes to having rights and choices and being able to speak our minds!

  2. Agreed on all counts. Love the gold dress. And whaaaa?! Why did I think Star Cursed came out in January?! I’m going to die waiting for it!

  3. Jenn McGowan says:

    I love the last dress!! And being courted does sound lovely. I am on board for the time travel trip… as long as it’s a round trip ticket!

  4. My thoughts exactly!!! 🙂 I do often wish our culture wasn’t quite so casual the past decade or two. Even my mother in the 1950s wore dresses every day and gloves and hats to go out shopping or out to lunch. People just don’t care about their appearance. Maybe it’s the casual New Mexico atmosphere I live in, but everybody is in jeans and baggy t-shirts all the time. 🙂

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