The petticoat that I’m creating would have been just one of many layers of clothing worn by the average Victorian (c.1860s) woman. I’ve found a site with a few illustrations to help describe some of those undergarments, and the order in which you’d put them on. Each layer has a specific purpose as well as a set of dos and don’ts. For example, it was considered gauche to be able to see the hoops of your crinoline through your petticoat and dress – all should be nice and smooth.
1. The first Victorian fashion garment put on by the lady of the 1860s is the chemise, an unshaped undergarment which reaches just below the knees and has a drawstring neckline. Beneath the chemise are drawers with a back button closure and open legged for convenience. The drawers are calf length with scalloped, embroidered hems.
2. The next item worn under the Victorian dress is the corset which, with its back lacing, has a front busk closure.
3. Over the Corset and Corset cover is the Under Petticoat, usually quite plain and worn as many as six at a time, depending on the season.
4. Next is the hoop skirt or crinoline, hailed as a liberator from the need for the excessive layers of under petticoats. Only a single under-petticoat was required with the hoop.
5. The final undergarments in how to dress Victorian is the Over Petticoat, often, with an elaborately embroidered hem. It is worn over the layered under petticoats or, in the early l860s, the hoop petticoat.
6. Finally, the lady dons her Victorian dress, pictured here in with a “fan front” bodice with capped close-fitting long sleeves and a cartridge pleated, three flounced skirt. The properly attired Victorian lady is never seen in public without bonnet and gloves.
There is an amazing video from Prior Attire that shows Izabela Pitcher getting dressed in an 1860s day dress from the bottom up… or the inside out…. Either way, I would highly recommend a watch!