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What’s Under The Skirt Of A Victorian-Style Steam-Punk Wedding Dress?

Are you having a steam-punk wedding? Do you want to dress just as they did in the Victorian era? Start building your underwear collection now, because you might be surprised by just how many layers of material women of the 1800s wore under their dresses. Fortunately, your wedding will last but a single day (a very special day, mind you); so if Victorian era clothing is what you want, then Victorian era clothing ye shall have — read on for a list of everything you’ll need between your skin and your dress. Your local shops, like Bridal Elegance, may even be able to help.

Layer 1 – Bloomers

When your special day arrives, you’ll begin your dressing ritual with a pair of bloomers. These knee-length, plain cotton pants are split at the crotch so that, once your ensemble is complete, you won’t need to remove all those layers to go to the restroom.  

In the Victorian era, ladies wore dark bloomers during the day, and white bloomers at night, under their nightgowns. The one exception to this rule was their wedding day, on which it was perfectly acceptable to don a pair of white ones all day long.

Layer 2 – Chemise

Next, you’ll slip on a chemise. While you’ll be able to find plenty of chemises in modern-day clothing stores, they won’t be the same thing as the traditional Victorian type. Modern chemises are more like light-weight, spaghetti strap tank-tops, while traditional chemises are heavier, knee-length, sleeveless gowns. 

The point of the chemise is to protect your body from being scratched by your corset, and to protect your corset from absorbing sweat and oils from your skin.

Layer 3 – Corset

Next comes the corset. These tight-fitting body-slimmers were traditionally crafted out of several layers of fabric and then enforced with whalebone. The purpose of Victorian era corsets was to lift the breasts, narrow the waist, and flatten the stomach.

While you won’t find any clothing manufacturers offering whalebone corsets in today’s modern market, you may have some luck shopping vintage clothing stores for them — just make sure to allow yourself plenty of time to hunt one down.

Layer 4 – Corset Cover

Just as the chemise protected the skin from the rough corset, a corset cover was worn by Victorian ladies to protect the outer clothing from being damaged by the abrasive corset. Traditional Victorian corset covers were cotton, sleeveless, and waist-length.

Layer 5 – The Bustle

At step 5 of dressing for your steam-punk wedding, you’ll attach a bustle; no Victorian style ensemble is complete without one. The bustle worked to lift the heavy material utilized in Victorian dresses off of the floor, preventing the dress from dragging or becoming misshapen. These formed tufts were generally made of a bunch of crinoline pinned together at the back of the corset cover.

Layer 6 – The Petticoat

The petticoat is the final necessary layer of a traditional Victorian lady’s garb. Petticoats were worn under the dresses, with their backs draped over the wearers’ bustles. Besides adding a bit more form and fluffiness to the dresses, petticoats provided some aesthetic appeal as they frequently bore intricate designs and peeked out below the bottom of the outer dress. 


If you aren’t sure you can handle all these under-wears, there are a few shortcuts you can take to save some time getting dressed, and reduce the bulk of clothing you’ll have to move around in.

  • Instead of a traditional Victorian chemise and bloomers, opt for a teddy; it combines both pieces of underwear into one light-weight garment. 
  • If you can’t stand the thought of wearing a corset, but you still want the form-fitting shape it provides, get yourself a good under-wire bra and a pair of high-cut, shaping panties. The bra will lift your bosom area and the panties will slim your waist and flatten your belly.

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