Victoriana wingz fashion sleeves

Victoriana is definitely a ‘thing’ at the moment. Influenced by some of the more elegant catwalk and runway trends from the last few weeks, plus a glut of TV documentaries, the film ‘Victoria and Abdul’ and of course the ITV ‘Victoria’ series, everything related to the Queen we once thought of as being a little staid has risen back into style, and the look has influenced what we’re all going to be wearing, over 116 years after Victoria died.

People have said that Jenna Coleman, who plays the naughty-but-posh young queen in the ITV drama looks nothing like her – the real Victoria was said to be plain and a bit dowdy – something the gorgeous Jenna certainly isn’t. One thing they do appear to have got spot on though is the costumes of the era, elements of which are going to be hard to avoid, specially as we get into winter and the cover-up season.

Victoriana style collars


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Handcrafted lace, in fact anything in lace is big news this season, as is grandma’s favourite crochet. At London Fashion Week, Simone Rocha took inspiration from dolls and added tulle aprons to gorgeously delicate ruffled broderie shirt dresses for a Victorian governess kind of chic. She also featured long bias-cut dresses which were reminiscent of Victorian nightwear along with black nipped-in waist jackets.

You can add a smidgen of Victorian style by adding some lace sleeves to a long plain dress, the lace effect adds the feminine touch that stops the dark, voluminous dresses of 150 years ago becoming too stern, and gives them the playful edge that makes them less school marm and more Victorian lady.

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Sleeves and details

We mentioned Erdem’s regal style collection last week – and while there was a definite nod to a more modern monarch, it wasn’t hard to see the Victorian influence on his frocks too. Erdem’s show featured some unflinchingly pretty floral ankle-length dresses, the type of dress that would have showed no scandalous ankle at all; and mixed tem with pretty frilled hemlines and leg-of-mutton sleeves. Of course, the statement sleeve is still with us but the Victorians were masters of the sleeve detail, not just the famous leg o’mutton but also elaborately decorated sleeves (much like the designs we see at the moment on the catwalks) and lace, ruffles and the ‘pagoda’ sleeve.

If you want to recreate the Victorian era, sleeve design is key, fabric is important and imagination is everything. Keep watching ‘Victoria’ for inspiration and if all else fails, just add lace…