Complete your Victorian costumes with period-inspired Victorian accessories: gloves, belts, hand fans, hair accessories, and more.
- Start with a perfectly styled Victorian wig and decorate with hair jewelry like a knit snood, clip, or hair comb.
- A lace Victorian hand fan will not only keep you cool but add beauty to your outfit. A lace Victorian parasol will keep you shaded as well.
- Add long or short leather Victorian gloves for day and evening dresses. Read the history of gloves here.
- Carry a Victorian purse, handbag or small pouch like a reticule or tie it to your belt. Shop Victorian purses here.
- A wide Victorian Medici belt might be needed for skirt and blouse outfits.
- Keep shoes clean and stylish with Victorian shoe spats.
See below for pictures of Victorian hand fans, gloves and belts, as well as a brief history of each (click here to jump).
Victorian Costume Accessories
Victorian Hand Fans
Hand fans were a very pretty and very necessary accessories of the Victorian lady. In an era without air conditioning and poor hygiene, a fan helped keep a lady cool and fresh. The use of one, how it was held, when it was used, and what it was made out of, spoke a silent language about the holder. Hand fans were mostly made of feathers. Long fluffy ostrich feathers were the most elegant, while shorter bird feathers were used on some designs or blended with silk, satin, and lace for a hybrid fan. In the mid-Victorian era, the trend for the Japanese style painted silk hand fans exploded. The frames were made of wood or tortoiseshell, elegantly carved. A long chain or wrist ribbon was attached to make carrying them easier, although most ladies handed them off to a spouse to hold instead.
Ladies’ Victorian gloves were worn at all times, except for when eating or using the facilities. Kid leather was the most common and durable option. Fabric gloves were cheaper and cooler to wear. Lace or knit mesh was preferred in summer. Fingerless gloves kept hands warm inside in winter, as did fur lined or suede winter gloves. For evenings, extra long silk gloves cascaded up the arms. Ladies’ gloves were long enough to cover the arm up until the dress sleeve overlapped. The following are examples of gloves from the mid to late Victorian period. For a history of gloves from the 1900s onward, look here.
Belts on women were a rare thing save for during two decades. Around the Civil War, the Medici belt was a wide belt that separated blouses and skirts. It went out of fashion until the 1890s to 1900s when the masculine, practical look was back in style. Belts were corset-like, with lace up fronts or large buckles in the center.