Dickens

The invention of the sewing machine revolutionized the world during this time period.  Sweatshops made infamous by the novels of Charles Dickens made for horrific lives for their employees, but increased the availability of different types of inexpensive cloth and ready-made clothing.  As a result clothing styles changed rapidly.  Men's clothing was the prototype of the "uniform" of the mid- to late-1800's.  Frock coats paired with patterned vests and trousers were common.  Conservative colored coats--grey, black, dark blue--were accompanied by bright vests and striped, checked, or plaid pants and outfits were topped off with top hats.  Upper-class men virtually lived in their top hats, often wearing them even while gardening; however, lower class men would often wear newsie caps or bowler hats.  Women's dresses took on a wide variety of colors and prints.  Moving more toward the hourglass look of the 1860's, waistlines dropped to the natural waist and corsets were popular.  Crinolines and petticoats, often stiffened with horsehair were used to make skirts more full, but hoops or caged crinolines were not used until the late 1850's.  A time of social hardship, the 1840's and 50's saw the dawn of the Industrial Revolution and had to deal with the consequences thereof.  Exciting patterns and colors were popular though produced at great cost to the workers.