Tags: #Fashion #History #VictorianEra
This video shows how a 18th century rich woman gets dressed. These clothing was so impractical that they needed someone else to dress them up. It's not like only putting on a t-shirt and a pair of jeans.
Similar question I asked earlier: Hygiene in the past.
Most Helpful Girl
Because they could? They could afford to get huge gowns made. Clothes were expensive, especially fine clothes where the detailing was put in by hand. Clothing wasn't just getting dressed, it was a statement about how good a citizen you were, how much money you had to spare on things like clothes as opposed to people who were literally spending eveything they had on just enough food not to starve. Practicality wasn't as important as showing how well off you were.1
Most Helpful Guy
You're right about the fact that those clothes were frequently impractical but you're wrong about them being uncomfortable. Surely, compared to modern clothes, they may seem uncomfortable but in that time, they were considered the state-of-the-art in regards to comfort. Rich people often wore silk for example, which was specially important from China. This was a thousand times more comfortable than the itchy linen-based clothes that normal peasants wore.
In terms of practicality, there was actually a deliberate purpose to wear such clothes. By using impractical clothes that take a lot of time (and manual assistance!) to put on and off, wealthy people made a clear statement about their social status. Farmers and craftspeople were not able to wear such clothes because they had to perform exhausting physical labor. In order to do this, they needed clothes that were fast and simple to put on and didn't restrain them while they were working. Therefore, wearing impractical clothes meant that you didn't have to do such jobs. You weren't "one of those lowly people". You had the money to afford a maid who would help you get dressed and you had the leisure time to sit in your room playing costume party. Also, since the clothes tended to be restrictive, you couldn't do certain tasks. Harvesting potatoes in a fancy suit doesn't work. So when people saw you, they probably knew that you were a special person; a lawyer, a scientist, an aristocrat etc..
Now, it is true that the clothes during the Victorian era were particularly impractical and restrictive (such as the corset). This is also related to the extremely strict/prudish morality of that time. Sexuality and eroticism were considered highly taboo, so people made an effort to not talk about it and not display themselves in any arousing way possible. Again, this was of course especially true for the people of high social standings, since they had the free time to contemplate such issues.1