Keli Gwyn
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Friday Fun Victorian Style

One word that describes the Victorian woman with regard to fashion is modest.

Women in the Victorian era followed rigid guidelines regarding conduct, conversation, and clothing. A lady could relax her dress some in the evening, perhaps showing a bit of her neck and a minimal portion of her chest, but by day a Victorian woman was generally covered from her head to her toes, with only her face visible beneath her stylish bonnet.

Clothing was often worn a number of times before it was laundered. One ofย  the ways they would keep a gown looking fresh was to change the collar frequently.

Here are three pictures of an accessory used by Victorian women for decoration as well as for filling in the neckline of a bodice to achieve the desired level of modesty.


Can you guess the name of the item? Since it’s an unusual word that comes to us from the French language, I’ll give you the five letters, but I’ll mix them up: h i c u f.

Leave your guess in a comment.

โ€ข โ€ข โ€ข

Update and Answer

fichu – pronounced fiSh-oo

Keli Gwyn


  • Sherrinda says:

    Fichu? I think I’ve seen that somewhere before…most likely in a book!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • wendypainemiller says:

    I’m coming up empty this Friday. Looking forward to discovering the answers. ~ Wendy

  • Hmm, I’ll guess chuif….Maybe it has a similar root as “chief” as in “hankerchief”? Long shot, I know… ๐Ÿ™‚

  • jessicarpatch says:

    fuich??? Toughie, but fun!

  • Keli, I think we used to call them “dickies” and I had them in a variety of styles for under V-neck sweaters, to complete a dress or blouse or to wear with a suit jacket. My mother might have been a throw back to another era. I loved that I could have a multi layer without adding another cumbersome piece of clothing.

    I think I’ve heard the word … fichu … Thanks for another great Friday ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Donna Pyle says:

    I’ll guess exactly what you typed: hicuf. Original, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Anne Payne says:

    That is a weird word – fichu! Almost sounds like something you’d say when someone sneezes ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Oh, Keli, I always love learning something on your Friday posts. But I am realizing how ignorant I really am about the Victorian era!

    I’m going with… fuchi. Just made it up. LOL

  • jillrkemerer says:

    I read a lot of Regency romance, so I know this one! Fichu! I’m sooo thankful for my washing machine. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Erica Vetsch says:

    I only know this because Laura Ingalls Wilder received one as a gift at her wedding from her best friend. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Loree Huebner says:

    fichu? …lol…I googled this one. Such an interesting post, Keli.

  • Cindy says:

    I always wondered what those things were called. I don’t remember seeing that word while buried in my Jane Austen books. Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Carol says:

    I had no idea about this one! Had to finally go and look. Very innovative dressers, those Victorian ladies. They fit the saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” LOL!

  • I knew this one from reading historical romances! Fichu. I know the spelling, but I’ve always been curious about the pronunciation. Would it be pronounced like fishu?

  • Keli Gwyn says:

    I wish WordPress would add a “like” button to the individual comments. I’d use it all the time because I love your comments. Anne’s comment about today’s word sounding like a sneeze cracked me up. =)

    Q4U: Does the link to the answer page work for you? Do you like being able to see the answer right away? Is the password a pain, or are you willing to deal with it? It’s there so that those who might accidentally stumble on the page wouldn’t wonder what they were seeing. I’m open for feedback.

  • jennifermmajor says:

    I think it’s prononced “fee-shoo”. But don’t quote me.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Thanks for your comments, Jennifer.

      I wasn’t sure of the pronunciation either, so I looked up the word and included the phonetic spelling with the answer, which is visible when the link in the post is clicked. According to the dictionary, the word is pronounced fiSH-oo. I’ll have to remember to ask my college daughter to say it for me, since one of her majors is French.

  • I like your word scramble! A fun post, and very important to Victorian fashion. Thanks!