Long Live the Queen

This holiday season, party like it’s 1899 in Victorian-inspired styles.

Alexander McQueen fall 2019.

For more than 60 years, Britain’s second-longest reigning monarch presided over an epoch that came to be known for its strict morality, political and social reforms, and, of course, its fashion. This season, take inspiration from the period in ruffles, lace-up boots, and other styles that are still relevant a century after Victoria. 

Alexander McQueen’s fall 2019 runway show featured some instantly recognizable elements of Victorian clothing—including ruffles, lace, corsets, and chokers—but with 21st century edgy fabrics and revealing cutouts. AlexanderMcQueen.com

Guerlain’s Jicky, which debuted in 1899, is arguably the first modern fragrance thanks to its then-revolutionary usage of synthetic ingredients. The unisex floral oriental features notes of lavender, bergamot, tonka bean, and vanilla. 1 oz./30 mL, $350. NeimanMarcus.com

Queen Victoria’s daughter-in-law, Alexandra of Denmark, is credited with the choker’s popularity. Legend has it she wore neck-hugging jewelry and high necklines to hide a small scar on her neck. Alexander McQueen silver-tone crystal choker, $2,690. Net-A-Porter.com

Much of the popularity of lace-up boots in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was due to the way they modestly covered the ankles; embrace modern mores by pairing yours with a thigh-skimming mini skirt. Lace-up suede ankle boot, Francesco Russo, $1,100. FrancescoRusso.fr

For decades, gloves were an essential part of a woman’s wardrobe. Sliding on a pair in a delicate material—such as these from Gucci, in lace and tulle—can dress up a day look, while a long satin pair adds a touch of glamour to an evening ensemble. Similar styles at Gucci.com.

This Alexander McQueen jacket is the perfect fusion of Victorian mens- and womenswear, which frequently featured a full, puffy sleeve. Keep the look sleek with a pair of slim pants, an understated clutch, and strappy sandals. Satin-sleeve single-breasted wool blazer, $5,990. MatchesFashion.com

Less practical but more romantic than a wristwatch, the pocket watch dates back to the 16th century. Add a minimal, streamlined chain to keep this one from feeling costume-y. Tissot Lepine Mechanical, $750. US.TissotShop.com

This bee-decked Favourbrook waistcoat adds a touch of irreverence to staid suiting. Wear it with a navy coat and trousers to keep things elegant, but add an equally cheeky handkerchief to maintain the levity. Navy Slim-Fit Silk-Jacquard Waistcoat, $465. MrPorter.com

Victorian Christmas at Maymont.

Photo by Karl Steinbrenner

Victorian Christmas

Celebrate in style at Richmond’s Maymont estate.

From silky sleeveless gowns to the classic white tie and tails, the foundations of modern fashion—especially evening wear—were laid by the Victorians. Learn more about this romantic period at Maymont’s 45th annual Victorian Christmas, scheduled for Dec. 8 at the historic Richmond estate. Guests attending the family-friendly festivities can anticipate carriage rides, costumed Victorian families, and, of course, a heavily decked-out mansion. “As they tour the mansion, guests will see authentic 19th century style decorations,” says Nancy Lowden, manager of historical programs, “with lots of greenery, red satin ribbon, poinsettias, toys, gifts, and preparations being made by the family and staff for Christmas 1893.” Maymont.org


This article originally appeared in our December 2019 issue.

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