During the Victorian Era, a woman’s place was at home. Unlike in the earlier centuries when women could help their husbands and brothers in family businesses, in the nineteenth century, the gender roles became more defined than ever. Their dress styles reflected their lifestyle. Victorian fashion was not intended to be utilitarian.
Clothes were seen as an expression of women’s place in society and were hence, differentiated in terms of social class. Upper class women, who did not need to work, often wore a tightly laced corset over a bodice or chemisette, and paired them with a skirt adorned with numerous embroideries and trims; over layers of petticoats. Middle class women exhibited similar dress styles; however, the decorations were not as extravagant. The layering of these garments make them very heavy. Corsets were also stiff and restricted movement. Although the clothes were not comfortable, the type of fabrics and the in-numerous layers were worn as a symbol of wealth.
via Gordon Morales