Friday, December 26, 2014

Peterson's Magazine: Victorian Fashion Resource, 1850 - 1888

Peterson's ladies magazines were an American staple during the last half of the 19th century when so many women lived in rural or isolated communities. These magazines brought serial stories, crafts, home tips and just about everything else you would expect from a home and life-style blog today. Even fashion illustrations were included, so that women could keep up their appearances, even on the prairie or at a small town wedding.

The magazine issues also recall the romantic Victorian past.  These illustrations from the winter of 1888 seem perfect for a dreamy Victorian romance film with a few Christmas holiday scenes where our leading lady is seen wrapped in rich red velvet and fur.

Owning or finding copies of these wonderful magazines is difficult, but having them available online opens up another world. Bound issues from 1850 through 1888 are there for the looking. While the magazines contain mostly fiction and written essays, each monthly magazine had an illustrated center section (the first staple center fold!). As time went by, there were more illustrations in each issue, showing colored fashion plates, accessories and home crafts popular at the time.

Today this information can be inspiring, offering new viewpoints, ideas, and concepts that can be translated into modern life, or at least adapted into Steam Punk costumes or copied for more accurate period apparel.

These illustrations are from the first six month volume from 1888. A full list of links to the 1850 through 1888 volumes are available HERE. This goes perfectly with hot chocolate on a rainy winter afternoon.


Michelle Braverman said...

My local library had a few bound volumes of Peterson's Magazine from the 1880s. They looked suspiciously like those in the link from your post. Amazing to have been able to check them out at age ten. No wonder I grew up to become a graphic designer for women's magazines!

Jen O said...

I read these as a child too--bought my first copy from the 1870's at age 10 as well and it was a life changing event. I hope today's girls have the same opportunity. I guess 'each one-teach one' might be a good motto because you never know when the 10 year old you meet today might be a little costume history nerd in the making.

Michelle Braverman said...

We sound like we may have been separated at birth! I loved all that fashion history starting about that age. My favorite was a book called "The Revolt of American Women"" Not fashion per se but history for sure. The pictures spoke volumes.