Based on today’s standards where everyday dressing for women and men alike consists of a decent looking pair of jeans and a comfortable shirt, the fashion for men and women in the Victorian was extremely formal.
There was essentially no such thing as pants or trousers for women during this era. They consistently wore dresses, even when they were not in a formal setting. The men also frequently wore what I would consider slacks and button-up shirt. Dressier than what I would prefer.
The formal wear for women had changed slightly from previous eras. No longer did women often wear hats. While some did, it was considered to be outdated and bonnets had taken their place. Some thought that hats were now just for flirtatious women. Bonnets were often heavily decorated as earlier hats were with flowers and bright colors.
The women’s dresses had also changed slightly. The early Victorian era dresses changed from very bulky and elaborate sleeves to very slimming and sleek long sleeves. This is was the primary change from earlier era formal dresses. Later in the era, however, other things also changed. Instead of long dresses which frequently had trains because there was so much fabric, the new era of dress was one which had simpler lines and only reached the floor, but did not drag.
The men’s dress was fairly similar to other eras. The formal dress for a man would often consist of a top hat. The coat would be quite long; reaching down to the knees and sometimes has a tail on it.
During the downtime while in relaxation of their own home, men would frequently wear small hats. This was a very stylish thing that often went with a relaxing robe. The purpose of the small hats was actually to keep the men warm during cold weather times. However, even after heating had improved in most homes, people continued to wear them because they were in style during this era.