Two of my favorite Lolita looks are Military and Sailor, which are inspired by Victorian styles. Have you ever wondered why military buttons and sailor collars become popular during that era? The book Nineteenth Century Fashion has surprising answers.

Today’s Kodona gals may think they’re pushing the envelope by cross-dressing in Victorian boys’ clothing. In fact, women were doing exactly that over a hundred years ago! For much of the 19th century, fashionable women wore dark woolen tailored jackets inspired by men’s coats. Alexandra, the Princess of Wales, liked to wear masculine styles accessorized with bowlers, top hats, cravats, waistcoats, and trousers under skirts (P16).

During the Napoleonic War (1793-1815), soldiers wore uniforms adorned with buttons, braids, and tassels. “It is hardly surprising that some of these attractive trimmings should have infiltrated fashion, particularly when nationalistic feelings ran high.” (P14) This 1885-6 riding jacket (above right) is one such example, with parallel rows of applied braid across the breast. The style is not far removed from that of Gothic Lolita brand Atelier Boz, although their coats are made of denim and cotton.

Sailor dresses are popular among Lolitas for obvious reasons: they are absolutely darling (like Milky Ange’s version on the left). Victorian women were similarly enamored with the nautical look. In Britain, the expansion of the railways and rising middle-class prosperity meant that coastal towns became increasingly popular getaway spots. (P28 ) The ladies went wild for “jaunty summer wear”: light, charming cotton and chintz dresses with deep cuffs and blue/white stripes. This 1872 dress (above right) is inspired by the sailor suit popularized by Edward, the Prince of Wales in 1846. His outfit was based on that of the royal yacht’s crew, with its large sailor collar, bell-bottom trousers, and knotted neckerchief.

19th century ladies had much in common with 21st century Lolitas – especially a love of all things cute and dainty. The rise of Gothic & Lolita clothing means we can wear antiquated looks made from modern, comfortable fabrics. Don’t forget, the Victorian ladies had tightly-boned corsets and steel-frame crinolines under ten layers of fabric!


Filed Under Fashion


  1. Kenny
    Posted November 11, 2008 at 2:39 am | Permalink

    I just love the bottom yellow dress it is addorable!!

  2. Kenny
    Posted November 11, 2008 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    I just love the bottom yellow dress it is addorable!!