Updated February 3, 2019

The groundhog has spoken and depending upon where you live, the prediction is either six more weeks of winter or early spring. Whatever way it turns out, there is definitely more winter to come. I started to think about what Victorian ladies wore during winter.

Winter Outer Garments

During the 1840s and 1850s, women’s gowns had wide puffed sleeves. The sleeves were so big that they would not fit into the sleeve of a coat. So, women wore a cloak, that loose outer garment resembling a cape.

By the 1870s garment sleeves were sleeker. Dolman jackets, coats, and capes gained popularity as outer garments. The shorter mantle of the 1880s featured a high cut back to make room for the corset, and long cut in the front to mimic a longer coat. On longer coats, the center back was open from waist to hem to accommodate bustles. Ties were sewn into the back waist so the center back of the coat fit tightly. The large roomy sleeves would be adorned with fringe or fur, and on occasion, feathers. By the 1890s, the jacket and sleeves were more form-fitting, much like a military tunic.

Victorian winter coat
Bertha Palmer’s winter coat, ca. 1885. Silk velvet, and lambs wool. Gift of the Art Institute of Chicago.


Rich women often wore Kashmir shawls. Kashmir is a town in India where the wool, made from local goat fur, was produced. Another popular item was the Paisley shawl. They were often given as a wedding gift and were considered to be very fashionable. They were made of wool or silk with patterns woven in or printed on them. Most of these shawls were embellished with long fringe.

Muffs and Hats

Fur muffs were very popular during the Victorian era. During the early part of the Victorian era, ladies’ winter bonnets were often made of felt or animal fur. Bonnets gave way to hats by the late Victorian period. As hats got smaller, ears got colder! Winter hats were still decorated with fur, and toques were made of sealskin. The fedora hat was also a popular style of the Victorian era and offered some protection from the cold and snow.

two winter coat styles of the Victorian era

Here are a few examples of winter wear from Recollections; Dickens Victorian Velvet Bonnet, Lucretia Victorian Set, and White Fur Muff.