Everyone Is Wearing Period-Style Dresses Right Now

Fashion might have gone, like, totally 80s, but it has also gone much further back in time to the Victorian period. Given the number of period dresses on the streets at the Fall 2019 shows, it sometimes looked like 1850, but with cutting-edge technology and belt bags.

Their popularity could be an effect of Victoria (it’s not just about The Crown) coupled with a reaction against everything hyper-modern. Designers dove deep into fashion history and are referencing various looks from the Victorian period. The silhouettes include earlier gowns with Bertha necklines (deep, wide collars) and expansive skirts to the high-neck, buttoned-up styles we often think of in terms of Victoriana.

Erdem Spring 2018, Simone Rocha Spring 2019, Brock Collection Spring 2019; Images: Imaxtree

On the runways, Erdem, Alexander McQueen, Simone Rocha and Brock Collection captured the essence of the period in chic styles that modern women want to wear. The latest versions feature telltale nipped waists, full skirts, delicate embellishment and statement sleeves, but they definitely aren’t the cumbersome styles of yore. There are no caged crinolines to deal with. Styles have often been subverted in the ultimate modern move with sheer fabrics, lack of linings and higher hemlines.

You can style period dresses with the same less-rigid approach. Play around with shorter hemlines, more skin and a few undone buttons. Team a maxi Victorian dress with jeans and a sports bra. Balance the frock with chunky sneakers or ugly sandals. The end goal isn’t to look like you’ve stepped out of a period piece so hold the bonnet and bustle.