Fashion - Riding Habit

The 19th century was a time of great change in women's fashion. The century began with high waistlines and straight skirts, and by the 1850s, the style had evolved into a more natural waistline and full skirt. Adelicia Acklen's clothing choices showcase the most fashionable trends from Europe and North America during that time. Follow Belmont Mansion as we embark on a nine part series showcasing the dresses, jewelry, and fashion choices of Adelicia Acklen.

In this portrait Adelicia exhibits her riding habit. Traditional riding habit generally took the style of men’s ware and feminized the look and fit while pairing it with a flowing skirt. Women would sport top hats with veils, waistcoats, jackets, and feminized versions of military coats. Though many Victorian ladies riding habits were made up of masculine elements, Adelicia’s riding habit appears more feminine than some of her contemporaries with her lace collar and cuffs and with her painted porcelain broach. The sash down the middle of the skirt is also a unique feature for a riding habit. However, her bodice does fit the militaristic style with its buttons decorations down the middle and sides of the bodice. Adelicia’s combination of hard and soft features helps to promote her desired image as an idyllic aristocratic woman.

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Belmont Blvd & Acklen Avenue 

Nashville, TN 37212


1900 Belmont Blvd

Nashville, TN 37212


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The architecture of Belmont Mansion makes it one of the most significant homes of 19th century Tennessee.

Sold by the Acklen family in 1887, the house went to a developer who began one of Nashville’s early suburbs.

It was then purchased by two women who in 1890 started a college which evolved into Belmont University. Today the Belmont Mansion Association, which was formed in 1972, owns the collection, runs the museum, and shares this unique story of 19th century Nashville with visitors from far and near.

Photos by Ed Houk