No doubt being a New Yorker makes it easier to imagine incorporating Victoriana enthusiasm into everyday dress. You can get away with alot on the streets here in the right neighboroods.
The first time I realized Victoriana fashion was becoming "in" was watching a rather theatrical fashion show from Dolce & Gabbana. Since then, I've found several other examples of big name fashion houses incorporating clothing styles from the Victorian era or times close to it. I'll be concentrating on women's fashion due to my own bias, but there's men's fashion to be found too.
Dolce & Gabbana Fall 2007 runway
Inspired by Napoleon and his wife Josephine, this show features women in military style outfits and empire waist dresses. It's also interesting to see the hair and make-up designers struggle to find a reasonably period appropriate look that foregoes pure white pressed powder and wigs.
Ralph Lauren Spring 2008, 40th Anniversary
Inspirations included My Fair Lady and Toulouse Latrec paintings. The male "dandy" of yore has undergone a gender change here. And she don't look half bad neither. ;) Even with my high speed connection, it took a long time to download the runway video. Try the look book instead.
Go to her Lookbooks and check out the 2007 Winter season. She describes it as Victorian Goth, in her case by dressing women who seem distinctly down on their luck. Her use of modern fabrics makes it quite clear she's pointing towards today's youth trend. (More on that below.) "I love adding historical elements to my garments while giving them a modern interpretation..."
A relatively new designer, Marchesa increasingly incorporates elements from vintage dress into mostly modern garments. There is a Second Life feel in part because she will design different versions of the same look: a half-length dress and matching full-length dress, for example. With a few exceptions, everything here would seem appropriate in a modern context
Well before the designers caught on, I could very occasionally see the odd character on the street dressed in a sort of broad period fashion. This would often be mixed with more modern clothes, such as incorporating platform boots or a leather corset. Such would be part and parcel of the goth/punk scene, though standing apart by embracing the social niceties with a sly wink.
New York appears to be slow catching on compared to other cities. Londoners take it as a sort of revival birthright, where Tokyo fashion rebels add their youth obsession to create a Lolita or boy dandy. The style draws from early goth evening wear and includes corsets, tall boots, chokers, and long gloves for women and for men ornate suits/coats plus obligatory bits of lace.
Here's a fairly traditional British goth store that includes some period style stuff. You'll see plenty of long dresses, high heeled dress shoes, petticoats, and long capes. There's common use of materials like velvet, beads, ribbons, and feathers.
Here you will see the other recent offspring of traditional goth fashion, the futuristic cybergoth. It's impossible not to mention this phenomenon, since it crosses into steampunk sometimes with its hardcore nostalgia for early scifi. Some marks of the crossover include kilts, goggles, ornate watches, and occasionally wings. Circuitboard patterns may take the place of lace or filigree patterns in clothing. You also see pinstripes and rare fur trimming.
Gallery Serpetine with a sidetrip to Pennangalan
Here it comes together through Victorian goth outfits that liberally incorporate cybergoth materials and patterns. The clothing here is so elaborate that it has entered high fashion territory without really trying. It's a clear line from here to the high fashion trend above.
As for the average person in North America brave enough to give it a go, I can only think to point to Hot Topic outlets. Now is the time to visit, as their Halloween selection includes period clothing and accessories. Larger outlets may carry goth wear all year.