Victorian wedding dress. Doll clothes preserve fashion’s history with an economy of space.
Little Ladies: Victorian Fashion Dolls and the Feminine Ideal

There is a second fashion exhibit on the second floor of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The exhibit includes enlarged plates from Godey’s Lady’s Book and Victorian doll clothes. Both exhibits, the Fabulous Fashion: From Dior’s New Look to Now , and the Little Ladies: Victorian Fashion Dolls and the Feminine Ideal are on display through March 3, 2019.

Admission to the museum is $20, which includes both the clothing exhibit and the doll clothes exhibit.

In this post are pictures  taken at the museum of the enlarged clothing illustrations from Godey’s Lady’s Books, of the doll clothes, and of a woman’s and little girl’s Victorian dress. The post, as with all fashion shows, ends with a gown that might have been used as a wedding dress.

The Children’s Fashion Design Center

If you have a child who is interested in fashion, he/she will really enjoy this exhibit.

Fashion designs created by children who were inspired by their visit.


A close up of some of the children’s designs.

The museum has work tables where children design clothing. Their designs are hung up for visitors to see.



Godey’s Lady’s Book Illustrations




About the Doll Clothes
Little girls at tea.

Posted on the wall is information about women’s lives…  

A published comment from a woman writer of the time:  A man likes the society of a woman who can walk a mile or two to see an interesting view, and can take long journeys without being laid  up by them. – Susan C. Poser, The Ugly-Girl Papers; or, Hints for the Toilet, 1874.

Excerpts from the exhibit’s descriptions:  Increased ease of travel expanded Americans’ horizons in the Gilded Age, but even short journeys were still dirty and drafty. The acid test of a true lady, it was said, was her ability to gracefully withstand the rigors of travel. 

The dolls are equipped with some of the needed paraphernalia, including dart, dust-resistant clothing, a waterproof cape, rubber galoshes, and a [large scarf] or blanket rolled up in carrying straps. 

Victorian women wore layers and layers of undergarments, which helped them achieve the ideal feminine form…as well as providing a washable layer between body and often-unwashable clothes. The extend and variety of these underpinning are echoed in the doll’s miniature versions. 


More information about these dolls and their clothing is on the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s website.

    Woman and Girl’s Victorian Dresses


Victorian Wedding Gown 
Queen Victoria wore a white wedding gown at her wedding, starting a trend that continues to this day. Gold might have been chosen as a variation on white.
215 884 7065

© Laurel Hoffmann, 2019.


1 Comment. Leave new

  • Jeannette Antry
    February 23, 2019 3:52 pm

    Great inspiration and photography. I love seeing these images and what the dolls are wearing. it is a great visual of history in clothing women wore. I love that children are motivated and inspired to show what they can create. Thanks for sharing. it is a wonderful post. Jnetti.


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