A Piece of Victorian Fashion History

I like to wear many hats, do many things, mix it up: personally and professionally.

In addition to working for Dark Garden, I also eat fire, retouch commercial photos, choreograph plays, model fashions, bartend events, drum for an all-girl psycho-folk-neo-clown band, and restore vintage clothes on Haight St. While this all may sound like an incredible amount of occupations to the averagely-employed individual, it’s all in a day’s work for the the modern hustler with an old soul and youthful spirit.

They're like:
They’re like: “Try it on! Try it on!” They treat me like a goddamn Barbie.

One day on Haight St., we came across an epic piece of fashion history that forced my jaw to drop to the floor: a black crystal encrusted, mutton-sleeved jacked with an elaborate, H. R. Giger-esque spine. It is dating from the late 19th’s century, the time in poor Queen Victoria’s reign when her love Alfred had died and she decreed her subjects were to be in mourning wearing predominantly black — for over twenty years. Would I have loved to live in this time, when black was not a style choice or “othering” device from the norm but contrary a national “uniform”: a daily reminder of the impermanence of happiness, that love is a fresh cut flower, all too ready to wilt and brown? Yes, yes I think I would have, still. But that’s just me: paint it black. Paint it all black.

The inside structure of the jacket is standard for garments of the time, but it blows my freaking mind. Bones every 3/4’s of an inch, and where the casings are worn — oh, it’s only 130 years old, what’s a little wear and tear — I can actually examine the bones themselves to discover: BALEEN. FUCKING: baleen. Yes! 


Corset stays, now generally made out of steel (acrylic if you are broke or don’t know any better) used to be made out of “whale bone” or baleen — actually the screen-like teeth of the whale. And I got to touch it!

waist tapeAdmittedly, this thing isn’t a corset. It is a garment one would wear over a corset. But notably, it has a 20″ waist. For those that don’t know: that’s super small.

Once I managed to cease drooling, my coworkers thought it would be fun to try on turn-of-the-century day outfits. Because, you know: why not.



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