Phyllis's Dresses


Character commentary: Oh look at how beautiful these dresses are, I need one just like this! I know that we don’t have much money right now. After our father's death and the loss of our fortune we must find a way to support ourselves so my sisters and I decided to open a photography studio. I must have new dresses though, Sidney Darrell sent two tickets inviting one of my sisters and I to one of his social gatherings and a dress like the ones in this photo would be perfect for this viewing. Since Fanny and Lucy cannot go I will be taking Gertrude although she does not seem to like Darrell very much because I cannot show up on my own. I think he is wonderful and was so delighted that he chose to invite me. I am going to curl my hair, add just a bit of blush, and a spray of tuberose. The dress I found is grey with a cut low and I think I look quite good in it. I think we have a reputation around town now, everyone pays attention to my sisters and I. I know that it is not common for women to work, even owning their own business at such a young age. Rumors have been spreading since we are spending so much time with other men but is it so hard to understand that it is business or could simply just be a friend? It is the least I can do for Mr. Darrell, I am his muse in his latest piece of art so I should attend an event dedicated to him that he chose to invite ME to his Private Viewing.

Researcher commentary: Phyllis is the youngest of 4 sisters. She is beautiful and usually have men at her feet and she knows that how beautiful she is. Because of her beauty she feels like she must dress the part as well. During the Victorian Era a dress had more meaning because from the style of dress you could tell a lot about a person such as their background and social status. Phyllis and her sisters had many dresses like the ones shown above and during the Victoria Era these dresses were all hand made therefore expensive so they were able to make a life and support themselves even after their father passed away; having to completely restart their lives with no help from others. The formality of the dress also depends on the the social rank of the person she would be with. Phyllis fit the beauty standards during this era, which was to be extremely thin, pale skin, and delicate. Phyllis was always getting sick and had a weak immune system. During this period, for the upper class women it was normal for them to be tuberculosis because as a woman who did not work their immune system was weaker and could not fight disease as well. Phyllis's main worry like most women was finding a husband which is what most of them are raised to do; to find a man, start a family, take care of the kids and do the housework.


 Mimi Matthews. A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty. Pen & Sword History, 2018. EBSCOhost,,shib&db=nlebk&AN=1848780&site=ehost-live.

"Naughty Nineties." Silhouettes Historic Dresses and Costumes, Accessed 13 Apr.


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