How to Dress Like an Aesthete

Have you ever seen preraphaelite paintings and were awed by the beautiful clothing? In the 1890s there was a movement against the heavily corseted and industrialized fashion common to the period. The people who were part of this movement were the aesthetes. If you would like to dress like them, read on...


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    Find an aesthete who inspires you. It is not important if it is an author in the decadence movement or an anonymous woman in a pre-Raphaelite painting as long as it makes you think "what would this person have found beautiful? how could I epitomize that?" Those questions will help you begin your journey towards an aesthete appearance.
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    Develop an aesthete wardrobe. Do some research and find your favorite styles and cuts. Some common characteristics of aesthete clothing are:
    • Wear fabrics of velvet, silk or wool in natural dyes of jewel tones, black, warm yellows and creams.
    • loose dresses or Turkish trousers and loose shirts
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    • Jackets to keep warm. Jackets should be loose and hip to ankle length with no lapels or lapels curved and no more stiff than the rest of the jacket.
    • Wear popular brands for aesthetes that are still in business today such as Liberty and Co and Morris and Co.
    • Free embroidery is good for decorations, but remember that it was used minimally.
    • Smocking was also popular.
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    Get Aesthete hair. Aesthete women often had hair as long as their hips and thighs, and men had slightly longer hair than an average Victorian man. No matter what color or length your hair is, wear it loose and down. Avoid heat styling and gels. Aesthete women often wore daisies in their hair.
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    Wear flat shoes. A good modern equivalent to aesthete shoes would be ballet flats and for men a simple flat oxfords. The best colors for aesthete shoes are black, jewel tones, cream and yellow with an orange tint.
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    Add a personal touch. Think of your favorite flowers and soft decadent patterns, do a bit of online searching and add them to your outfit. For example, paisley and tiny flower patterns are still popular today, and can add a bit of eccentricity to a beautiful dress.
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    Read up on medieval times, the regency and other pre-industrial ages. The aesthetes were charmed by the ways of the past, and even though now the aesthetes are the past too it is helpful to know how they got their ideas.


  • Learn about the art of the late 19th century. Not only does it help you seem more cultured, it can give you inspiration for your next outfit!
  • Look at the styles of the regency and medieval eras for influence.
  • Many aesthetes were the earliest form of vegetarians, so cutting down on meat every once in a while helps you get a feel of how they lived.
  • Aesthetes wore more makeup, but if you enjoy makeup keep it natural.
  • Reading books associated with decadence in the 1890s is great to add an air of aesthete charm. For example, the yellow book, Charles Baudelaire and Oscar Wilde.
  • If you want to be really authentic you could handsew or use an antique sewing machine.


  • Avoid any stiff undergarments. The aesthetes were rebelling against courtesy but as most women don't wear corsets anymore, a good equivalent would be wearing a sports fun or bralette or at least one without padding. Shapewear is also another thing to avoid.

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Categories: Fashion Styles