At the end of April, I will once again be venturing off to Cincinnati for Steampunk Symposium. Last year we had a wonderful time–dancing, watching panels, meeting people, and this year promises more of the same on a grander scale. This year, Missouri and I will be hosing a panel on conserving and mimicking history. Since I can’t go to a convention without at least one costume, I’ve been gathering images to create my own Victorian walking dress.

Walking Dresses were worn to see and be seen. They are often referred to as Promenade Dresses, a very literal definition of their purpose….Walking Dresses differ for each location and season of the year. Because they were meant to be worn outdoors, the full costume of the Walking Dress always included a head covering of some kind, an outer garment or wrap, and gloves. Bonnets, caps, and veils were worn to cover the head, and were often the means of the most dashing or frivolous fashion statement.

(From The era might be a little early for my purposes, but the definition is about the same.)

For my walking dress, I’ve chosen to go with a late Victorian, almost Edwardian silhouette, for a few reasons–First, conventions are crowded and the last thing I want is a six foot hoop skirt clogging up the hallways. Second, I likely won’t get a chance to wear the dress before the convention, so a large bustle or anything that makes it difficult to wear is out of the question. Simplicity is the key here, since I’ve never really made a true historical garment before. Also, I know me and if I’ve got layers of big fluffy skirts, I’ll probably tear them on something. And lastly, I simply prefer the look of that period to earlier Victorian garments.

Here you can see the difference in the cuts. On the left is an image from 1880, and on the right two dresses from the 1870s.

Of course, that’s not to say that I don’t love 1870s fashion. I love how elaborate the skirts and bustles are, I’m just not feeling ambitious enough to attempt them.

Here are a couple of modern interpretations I’m using for inspiration:

(Yeah, I know, 1870s. But look at that skirt! And also, the jacket. I’m using a similar fabric and need a jacket, which is where I’m getting stuck.)

I adore the back of this dress. It might be a little more fanciful than what I’m after, but I definately want to use it as a jumping off point:

Speaking of jumping off points, I think is the direction I want to go in for the jacket: