Date of Award

Fall 12-15-2020

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of arts (BA)


Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Sundermann


Depictions and study of women’s fashion from mid-nineteenth-century England have largely focused on upper-class women and suffragettes. The purpose of this research is to highlight another group, middle-class women, and their fashion choices through analysis of the Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine. This magazine not only gave fashion advice and instruction but guided middle-class women’s choices on what materials to purchase and where to purchase them. The fashion columns steered women into building a new middle-class identity that was unique and set them apart from the extravagant upper class.

By examining the articles printed in the magazine I was able to derive key factors in the fashion advice being given to middle-class women: maintaining class values, budgeting, and setting themselves apart from both the working and upper classes. With the use of secondary scholarship about mid-nineteenth-century English women’s fashion, along with digitally archived copies of the original magazine, we can see that literature such as the Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine was crucial in building a new identity for the middle-class Victorian woman. Over the three decades of publication, this magazine underwent an evolution through its content and tone which reflected the values of the growing middle class and helped build the identity of the new middle-class woman.