The Victorian Use of Velvet



The Victorian Era, is that, a time frame approximately during the reign of Britain’s Queen Victoria which was 1837-1901. Many of our ancestors lived during that period whether in Great Britain, Canada or America.

Many popular styles of clothing, furniture, homes, etc., existed during those decades. Those who have studied that era say for sure one concept that was during those years was to have ‘MORE’. Yes, of everything. That is why when you think of a Victorian-style parlor room it is filled with all types of wall hangings, furniture, vases, draperies, etc.

However, one item many times overlooked is that a very popular style was to have things using ‘velvet’. Number one was to have heavy velvet draperies at windows and from room to room entrances or damask valances. The heavy draperies did help keep cool air from spreading from room to room. Also by being heavy and a dark color the fabric did not appear dirty as easily. Velvet could be brushed to remove dirt.

The colors favored were deep and rich: red, dark green and a beautiful gold/amber. Also, neutral colors were used in Victorian interior design too -mainly mid-tones of gray and taupe.

With the expanded industrial revolution, the manufacturing of velvet for draperies or coverings for furniture was now more affordable by the middle classes. True for many poorer working classes the fabric was too costly, but they always tried to acquire even second-hand velvet furniture.

Ladies’ hats were trimmed with velvet bows, large ones. In the 1860s formal ladies ‘ gowns were made of velvet and winter coats also.

So take a closer look at any family photos of ancestors’ clothing and home furnishings.

Photos: Velvet Draperies; Velvet chair and footrest; Velvet sofa of 1890s and Velvet hat ribbon of 1880.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

Victorian Behaviors

Victorian Photos

Victorian Homes

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