Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Victorian Era in America:1837-1901: "Too Much is Not Enough"

After the Civil War to the turn of the century, wealth increased all across America. By 1870, an enormous building boom increased the number of millionaires to one hundred. With the advent of new money, the call for more of everything reigned among the wealthy. “Too much is not enough” became the mantra, as the rich constantly sought out new ways to display their prominence in society.
 From New York to the West coast, a woman of means threw her heart and soul into creating a home befitting her status. This meant building a home that was as festooned as a Christmas tree—inside and out. She stuffed every room with spindly, feminine furniture, until it overflowed with excess. She decorated with abandon, creating grossly decorated rooms, filled with every knickknack and gimcrack imaginable. A person might feel stifled and claustrophobic in the room.
The ladies, young and old, dressed in the fashions of the day. The outfits were as ornate as the homes in which they lived. Pronounced bustles, unnecessary and odd-looking, was part of every well-to-do lady’s dress. One dress might contain as many as twenty yards of silk and satin, and rows and rows of lace and fringe and ruffles decorated the necklines, hems, and bustles.

A lady strived for the most extravagant hairdo she could manage. She piled it high on her head, tortured it into masses of curls and ringlets, and above all, draped it with all manner of gewgaws to frame her face. All in the name of elegance.


In All My Hopes and Dreams, a Western Historical set in the Victorian era, 1880 Texas, Miss Cynthia Harrington lives in a big, white house in Nacogdoches, Texas with her banker father. As she says in the novel, “Nacogdoches is not exactly the social and fashion center of Texas.” However, she strives to be the best-dressed young lady of the small East Texas town. With her loveliness and poise, she manages to attract the attention of visiting horse-buyer, Ricardo Romero. Of course, they marry, and she soon learns that the Romero ranch on the far Western edge of the Texas Frontier most certainly differs in all ways from her usual lifestyle—and that includes dress. By the third day, she finds herself wearing boots, split skirt, blouse, and gaucho hat.

Read about their adventures and how they fall in love. Purchase the eBook and print here:

Celia Yeary
Romance…and a little bit o' Texas

TEXAS BLUE-eBook and Print


  1. Celia: Loved reading about the Victorian excess. Never thought of it that way, but yes, the furniture, clothing, and architecture was over-lavish. I think society goes from one extreme to the other, like a pendulum, so maybe this was bound to happen. Anyway, it must have been a romantic time in which to live. Your book, set against such a background, sounds like a great read! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hey Celia,
    I'm always wondering how in the heck women moved around in those heavy gowns, how they did chores, how they went to the bathroom for goodness sake. How the heck could you do that with a bustle on? And corsets. **shivers** Thank God for modern fashion, antibiotics, and cell phones.

  3. Celia, I saw this post and I had to visit. I loved your pitures - they captured the flavor of the times. Like Maggie, I want to know how those ladies moved around in gowns like those!!

    I agree - Too muh is not enough and nowhere in the US is that embodied than in Newport, RI where the neuveau riche built those large mansions with all the "modern" conviences that ran off - "electricity" and they had elevators and indoor plumbing!

    All my Hopes and Dreams was a very nice book that captures the time period and flavor of Texas at the time.


  4. Celia, I love that era even though if I'd lived then I would no doubt have ended up being the scullery maid or some such dreadful occupation. LOL One of the Victorian homes in our town has an elevator, and I loved seeing it when the home was on tour. Think how much money one would have had to have indoor plumbing and an elevator in our part of the country in the 1880's!

  5. JOYCE--over-lavishly life-styles still exist, but I suppose they don't have a distinct flavor as the Victorian Age did.Thanks for your thoughts--Celia

  6. MAGGIE--did you know that women during those times did not use the bathroom very much, so the prevalence of urinary and bladder infections was fierce. Some other serious physical problem was the result,too, which harmed women during childbirth. I read a novel long ago with this as part of the story, and it was horrible. Celia

  7. STPEH--the fact is, they did not move around very much. It took a lot of energy to carry the weight os twenty yards of satin or whatever. Thanks for stopping by--Celia

  8. CAROLINE--same here! I'd be the scullery maid, for sure. But lucky us,we'd be healthier for it. Thank you for coming by--Celia

  9. I love Victorian homes!! I can skip the hairdo's what a pain that musta been. I do love that cover!

  10. I am one of those romantics that believes this age was simply amazing. I love all the tidbits you provided, and your images are great.

  11. Great post, Celia! I was just watching a documentary of how the U.S. prospered in the years after World War II. The same can be said for the years following the Civil War. And as for women's fashions. Hoopskirts, then bustles...hard to imagine how they wore those things! What women will do to be fashionable!

  12. MARY--I LOVE MY COVER,TOO. Remember when you got your first cover? I got physically sick, wondering if it was as beautiful as I thought? Or what? That's what excitement does to me.
    I love Victorian home, too.We have our share in the Belvin Street Historical district.I'm very proud of the way our city has taken care of things. Celia

  13. EA--I guess it was a romantic time for some people.It certainly is a great era to set a romance. And thank you for the complement--Celia

  14. SUSAN--all through history, I guess, women have wanted to look as good as the next person. It's funny that in the bird kingdom, the males wear the outrageous ornaments, and the females are drab. Thank you for your comment--Celia

  15. Wonderful post! Makes me thankful I live now. I'm definitely a casual dresser. :-)

  16. MAEVE-HERE! HERE!Jean, Capris, tees all the way! Celia

  17. I'm another for casual comfort and I think I'd rather be the maid and dress in a simple little thing than to have to wear such huge heavy dresses and be nothing but a show piece.

    Our town is packed full of gorgeous Victorian houses. I just love them.

  18. Celia, thank you... loved this historical travel...
    I don't think I'd want to live that over-lavishly. However, I think it would be more than fun to have a Victorian-themed ball, and dress in a similar fashion.