The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Victorian Women's Writing

Living Edition
| Editors: Lesa Scholl (Editor-in-Chief)

Maternity Dress

Living reference work entry


Clothing designed, altered, or adapted for wear by expectant mothers makes rare and tantalizing appearances in Victorian women’s writing. Literature draws a veil of secrecy over pregnant bodies, while advice guides impress upon the reader the dangers of corsets and tight lacing to the health of mothers and infants. However, women’s designs, commercial writing, and personal letters and diaries include information about how women approached their wardrobe during pregnancy in an attempt to be healthily and appropriately dressed.


Literature is notably reticent on the subject of maternity fashion, mirroring the general modesty, compared to fleshier Georgian literature, of Victorian fiction on the subjects of pregnancy and childbirth. Literature by male and female authors painted a veil of secrecy and concealment over the pregnancies of respectable women, using the textual revelation of any physical aspects of childbearing to reveal moral transgression or some other...


Pregnancy Maternity Dress Corsets Alterations 
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Technology SydneySydneyAustralia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Emily Morris
    • 1
  1. 1.St. Thomas More College, University of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada