Lately I’ve been reading William Morris’ views on the fashions of Victorian women.

He loathed the garish colours of the new synthetic dyes, and described the women of his time as “upholstered like arm-chairs” in their yards of petticoats and padding. (1)

Jane Morris and other women of the Pre-Raphaelite artistic circle dressed counter to the norm.

Their gowns were loose-fitting, unrestrained by corsetry and easy to wear.

At first this style of dress was shocking to Victorian society, but it gradually gained acceptance. (2)


One hundred and twenty years later, all our clothes are easy to wear and not much is shocking anymore.

But if you still want to dress like an armchair, that’s ok too. (3)


1. CAMPBELL, W. 2007. Clothes from nowhere: Costume as social symbol in the work of William Morris. In: LATHAM, D. (ed.) Writing on the Image: Reading William Morris. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, pp. 53.
2. CULLEN, O. 2010. Aesthetic Dress. In: STEELE, V. (ed.) Berg Companion to Fashion. Oxford, New York: Berg. Picture with apologies to Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
3. Kim Kardashian in Givenchy for the 2013 Met Gala Ball. At the time the Internet said she looked like a couch. Personally, I liked it.


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