We think of fashion magazines as an accessory for the modern woman, but in fact they really became a craze in the Victorian period.
Over 100,000 different periodicals started during the nineteenth century, some of which have continued as academic journals like the Lancet (started 1823). Others that were much more light-hearted have still managed to survive such as the humorous Titbits, founded in 1881 and mentioned in George Orwell’s book Animal Farm.
The first women’s fashion magazine was probably Ladies Mercury, first published in 1693. By 1875, the date of this Young Ladies Journal in the Worcester City museum collection, there were scores of periodicals aimed at fashionable women.
The very detailed illustrations in this magazine gave the young Victorian woman, probably on the threshold of marriage, a very clear idea of how to behave and how to dress in polite society. The publisher had close relationships with outfitters and silk suppliers, not unlike today’s magazine reliance on the advertising of high fashion brands.