A rising literacy rate and ubiquity of print media advertised new furniture, clothes, and homes for those people to spend that new money on.
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Aristocrats—perhaps feeling threatened by the emergence of new money—looked to their time-honored traditions to set them apart from the upstart middle- class. These aristocrats may have looked to status as their new currency.
Victorians in the Mountains: Sinking the Sublime
How did you get status? Demonstrating proper etiquette was a start.
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Upper class elite women were always to be chaperoned; speaking to a man you did not know could be scandalous, leading to social ostracization and bullying. Gentlemen could not smoke, drink, or discuss certain matters depending on the age, sex, class, or dress of their company.
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An action as small as tipping your hat to a poorer person could be misconstrued as approving poverty. A Victorian aristocrat was always alert to their actions and the actions of others. Playing by the rules gave one status. Status could also be communicated through what you owned.
Victorian population growth saw workers migrate from the countryside to cities, and with their newfound public lives middle-class Victorians invested in new homes. With the free time their new wealth gave them, doctors and lawyers could afford areas to receive company such as the reception room or the drawing room.
Modeled after those of the aristocracy, public rooms were decorated with furniture items obscure to us now—Girandoles, Davenports, Chiffoniers, Settees. All of these showed your neighbors you were hip to the times and able to keep up with the aristocrats.
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