Welcome to the Stalking Jack the Ripper Blog tour. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am to be a part of this tour and the Knights of White Chapel street team. When Ava mentioned she was starting a signup for this tour, I immediately jumped on board. I was lucky to receive one of the first ARC mailings of the book. I completely devoured it the minute it arrived on my doorstep and loved ever second of it. If you want to check out my review go here. I wanted to do something special for this post. I was inspired by some of the chats I had with Kerri about all the lovely dresses and accessories Audrey Rose would wear as a Victorian lady. I used some of my knowledge about period costumes and the fashions of The Victorian period to give you all a little insight on what it would be like to dress like Audrey Rose.
A Look Inside Audrey Rose’s Dressing Room…
The Unmentionables: ::carefully looks around and makes sure Thomas Cresswell is far, far away:: Let’s talk about Victorian Era undergarments. Before lacing up her corset, a Victorian lady would place upon her bare skin a chemise top (usually plain cotton and trimmed in various lace designs. Her bottoms/bloomers/knickers would be placed to cover her nether regions and were considered by the Victorians as the most unmentionable and immodest garments of them all!
The Corset: Next would be the lacing of the corset. This interesting contraption made in a variety of materials usually were lined with steel boning and laced tightly to give the lady her fine hourglass figure. A corset was mainly for the function of making sure the figure was put into the desired shape, but it did not stop the designers from making them in all colors and sometimes elaborately decorated. A corset cover was also usually worn over the corset. The Victorians valued tiny waists and it was known that ladies would often faint from lack of ability to breath. I don’t believe our Audrey would be so vain as to go that far, but she definitely wore one of these. (Personally, I think they are lovely and own several myself, and enjoy wearing them on occasion).
The Stockings: Before putting on layers of more clothing a lady would definitely want to put on her sheer and delicate stockings which came in all shades and designs. (Definitely puts our modern stockings to shame with how beautiful some of these were…look at the detail. WOW!)
Shoes/Boots: Shoes and boots came in a mirage of colors, fabrics, and designs. Some you could slip on, but most were either laced or buttoned. I cringe when I look at these dainty images of gorgeous shoes and boots and think about Audrey Rose standing in coagulating blood at her uncle’s lab…ruining these beauties! Luckily she is a lady of means and could afford to buy more.
I believe that now Miss. Audrey Rose would don a dressing gown while putting on makeup, combing the luscious locks, and arranging the hair to cascading curls of perfection.
Under-Petticoats: Once the corset was tightly laced, stockings and shoes on and the every hair perfectly placed, the first of many petticoats would be put on. These petticoats were made of similar materials to the chemise or with thinner muslin. The petticoats were often edged with lace and some also had dress shaping supports such as horsehair and wiring to sewn into them to help give the dress its finished silhouette.
The Bustle: The bustle was usually made of wire that folded and collapsed into itself to allow the lady to sit. This structure was worn over the several layers of petticoats. It sometimes also had some padding and would be tied on tight around the waist.
Decorative Petticoats: These decorative petticoats usually had lots of layers and lace. A fashionable lady would wear no less than two. Sometimes these decorative petticoats would be the actual underskirt of the dress (obviously that would mean at least three-four layers of petticoats, to keep everything “decent”). These petticoats were also what helped the dress have its signature rustling sound; made while the lady walked called the “frou-frou”.
Once all of these items were on, it was finally time for the actual dress.
The Underskirt: This was the first part of the actual dress. Sometimes a highly decorative petticoat would be considered the underskirt, depending on the cut of the dress. This base skirt was usually highly decorated on the front but plainer towards the back to accommodate the ruffles and folds of the overskirt’s design.
The Overskirt: The overskirt was sort of a half skirt that would cover the back and sides of the dress’s underskirt. This is usually the part of the dress that held the elaborate drapes and folds that would be held up by the bustle. Not that by the late 1880’s most dresses were starting to lose their trains, but some overskirts still had a bit of a train to them. The drapes and folds of the bustle were the stars of the back of the dress.
The Bodice: Once the overskirt is on, a lady would then put on the bodice of her dress. The bodice of dresses in the Victorian era were pretty conservative and covered all the way to the neck in most cases. Some designs did allow for the neckline to be done is a square, sweetheart and V-shaped. The sleeves were tapered and slim, worn long, or in 3/4 length. They could be very simple, or very elaborate depending on the dress. For as prudish as the Victorians seem, sometimes the ladies of the era wore sleeveless gowns but of course, they also wore satin and silk gloves that covered up almost the entire length of their arms, leaving only a little hint of skin exposed.
Daytime Dresses: Lighter, more “casual, less “frilly” dresses made to wear around the home. Or for when visitors came calling.
Tea Gowns: These gowns started to grow in popularity around the 1870s. These gowns were unboned and worn without a corset, giving the ladies a respite in the afternoon hours before having to start to dress in formal wear for dinner.
Walking Dresses: These gowns were more conservative and “simpler” but still lovely. They were worn when paying visits or going for walks in the park or maybe even to visit uncle’s laboratory or Bedlam.
Dinner Dresses: These were formal dresses made of silks and varied in color. They were usually more opulent and “showier” dresses.
Ball Gowns: These dresses were made from exquisite materials, the finest of lace and were elaborate and varied in design.
Before Audrey Rose can go out stalking Jack, she needs to make sure that she has all her accessories….
The Hat & Hat pins: A lady would never think to leave the house without a bonnet or hat….I mean what would the neighbors think?::gasp::
The Hand Fan: Because a lady always needs to keep herself cool (especially when wearing so many layers) or in case she needs a little more air due to that tight corset.Fans were used while at balls and dinner parties to imply certain messages to people of interest. (This was not covered in the book…but there is a “secret” language of fans. For instance, fanning slowly meant a lady was married. Fanning quickly meant she was engaged. A fan in the right hand meant, “I love another”, or if the lady did not think the suitor anything more than a friend, she would drop her fan, which communicated “we will be friends.”…it’s really interesting, and complex. You can read more about it here.
The Gloves: A lady would always wear gloves when exposed to the outside elements. These came in a variety of fabrics, but leather ones were usually favored for travel. For indoor use, a lady could choose to wear light lacy gloves. When attending balls and wearing the scandalous sleeveless dresses a lady would always wear gloves of silk and satin.
The Purse or Reticule: This was always carried with the lady. There she would keep her perfume vial, fan, handkerchief and also her calling cards when she went to visit friends.
The Cape or Shawl: When the cold weather comes knocking a lady would most certainly wear a cape over all her finery. These capes would vary in length, style and fabric. Some would have high necks, while others would have an enlarged hood.
The Parasol: This “umbrella” was usually made of fabric, and lace and often matched or complemented a lady’s ensemble. Victorian fashion favored a pale complexion and this was used by ladies to safeguard their exposed skin from the evil and devastating rays of the sun. I think Audrey Rose would somehow find a way to use her parasol as a weapon if she ever gets herself in a pickle. The handles of such parasols were also usually made of wood or even ivory and were beautifully carved.
About The Book:
Presented by James Patterson’s new children’s imprint, this deliciously creepy horror novel has a storyline inspired by the Ripper murders and an unexpected, blood-chilling conclusion…
Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.
Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.
The story’s shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.
About The Author:
Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside NYC where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time, she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats. Stalking Jack the Ripper is her debut novel. It incorporates her love of forensic science and unsolved history and is the first in a new series of gothic thrillers.
For more information about Kerri Maniscalco, check out her social media platforms.
Thank you to Ava from Bookishness and Tea for hosting this amazing tour, and to Kerri for writing such a great book for us all to read and fangirl about.
I really enjoyed working on this post for the Stalking Jack the Ripper blog tour (I spent so many hours on Pinterest looking at pretty dresses…no regrets…lol) and being a part of the Knights of Whitechapel street team. I hope you found all the dresses as pretty and as glorious as I did. Hopefully, you also learned a little something about the typical Victorian attirement ritual.
I am so excited for Stalking Jack the Ripper to finally be released in stores and for the finished copy to finally be in my hands. Are you planning on reading the book? What did you think about all the layers of clothing Victorian ladies had to wear? Have you or would you ever wear a corset? Let’s chat!