A study of how the growing popularity of sports and leisure activities in the latter half of the 19th century affected the fashion of the period,  with a focus on how and why the social society etiquette restricted and influenced sport and leisure fashions for women 

 

In accompaniment to dissertation I will be using this blog as an online sketchbook and journal to records the process of the design and creation of a sporting wear costume for a couple circa 1884. All information sources and references can be found at the bottom of each post. Images sources can be found underneath this image itself.

 

Abstract

This dissertation explores the growing popularity of sports in the latter half of the 19th century. It looks at how participation in certain sports became acceptable for upper-middle class women due to medical advances. These medical studies showed the benefit sport had on health, which lead to a growth in the popularity of sport among women. The study looks at the opinions of Victorian society on upper-middle class women taking part in sport and which of these sports they deemed suitable for women to participate. The general consensus being ladies should take part in sports in moderation to avoid appearing masculine. It was stressed that ladies of class only participate in less physical sports in which they could regain their femininity, grace and immaculate appearance.

The study focuses on the affect leisure sports had on women’s fashions and looks at how clothing was adapted for sporting. It was found that society required a different outfit for each sporting activity. Victorian sporting clothing predominantly prioritised beauty over practicality. This dissertation also looks at how participation in sport was restricted by wealth and social status. Most sports required membership to a club to participate; these often had costly membership fees and required proof of family social status. The study concludes that many sporting garments that were introduced in the Victorian era, as casual wear, are still worn today for formal sporting events and competitions.

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