Women’s Fashion Trends for January 1841

N.A. Ferrell
3 min readNov 6, 2020


The last few days have been busy, but that is of course no excuse for not keeping to our content publishing schedule here at The New Leaf Journal. Last month, I published an expose on the latest autumnal trends in dresses — if by “latest” we mean “October 1850,” of course. I did not expect to return to the subject of women’s fashion so soon, being that I am neither a woman nor particularly fashionable, but events, if by “events” we mean “fishing for a prompt for a short post in the evening,” have a tendency to intervene in unexpected ways.

A Fashionable Find on Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg posts its most recently added content on its homepage. Today, I found an intriguing new entry titled “Graham’s Magazine,” the January 1841 edition, to be exact. According to Wikipedia, Graham’s Magazine was a Philadelphia-based periodical that was published from 1841–1858. We appear to have caught the magazine early in its life span for this article.

The Latest Winter Fashions for January 1841

I scrolled through the magazine looking for an idea for an article until I found a picture captioned “THE LATEST FASHIONS, JANUARY 1841, FOR GRAHAM’S MAGAZINE.” Below, you will find the latest fashions for January 1841 in Philadelphia:

After kindly offering women in The New Leaf Journal’s growing audience information about the latest in autumnal fashion, I thought it would be helpful to preview some ideas for winter fashion. While I am not a shopping expert, perhaps there will still be some winter fashion sales available. Sadly, I rely on others to explain complicated dresses, and unlike Harper’s last month, Graham’s assumed that its audience would readily understand the above dresses.

From what I can infer from the picture, it appears that three-skirt dresses were “in” for January 1841. If I am correct in my interpretation of the picture, this would represent a marked difference from New York in 1850, when Harper’s explained that double- and quintuple-skirted dresses were in vogue. We also see a bonnet on the woman in the center in what seems to me to be a dress for at-home wear. This appears to be different from the trends discussed in Harper’s as well.

Parting Shots

While I could not offer as much analysis of these dresses as I was able to for last month’s Harper’s article, I was at least able to show you an interesting picture from a classy 1841 magazine. With that, I conclude my monthly fashion content. Because I may have inadvertently created a strange New Leaf Journal tradition, I suppose I will try to find some new fashion content for December as well. You can count on our humble online magazine to keep you abreast of the very latest in fashion.

Originally published at https://thenewleafjournal.com on November 6, 2020.



N.A. Ferrell

Content editor for The New Leaf Journal 〜 The online magazine where the leaves are perennially virid 〜(https://thenewleafjournal.com)