Blame it on Charles Darwin or Science’s burgeoning role in the everyday societal dichotomy, but the 19th century saw a rise in separation of . . . well, everything. There was always a hierarchy in social status; an echelon derived from the very first leader. However, this zealous segmentation arrived during the 19th century. No longer were recipes scribed as “a dash of this and dollop of that” or “salt to taste.” Now items were measured and separated. “Three quarter cups of flour” entered the jargon, “mix all dry ingredients first, then fold into dough.”
In part due to the changes in serving said food, setting the table became more complex with the introduction of numerous forks each designated for one sole purpose and no other. At last count there could be up to twenty forks at table, never mind the thirty types of spoons and ten types of knives that suddenly appeared on wealthy dining room tables. Do not even get me started on the many variety of drinking glasses and plates. Good heavens! It is enough to make me long for finger foods!
This preoccupation with precision was not limited to food stuffs; the rooms of a home were soon allotted one function. At least it was the ideal only a few could maintain. By the middle of the 19th century, there was no Great Room nor any “all purpose room.” Such an abhorrent thought! Nay, there were bedrooms whose only function ought to be sleep . . . and, erm . . . procreation. Then there was the Kitchen, the Scullery, the Morning Room, Dining Room, Office, Library, Ball Room, Parlor, the Drawing Room, Foyer, the Nursery, the Bathroom and Lavatory; this does not include anti-chambers and other seemingly random, but surely purposeful rooms.
Following the rules of everything has its place, Victorians saw to it that Fashion continue in this vein. Do keep in mind, clothes were never meant to be comfortable. What a ridiculous notion! Clothes were meant to ward of the ever present danger of chills and more importantly they conveyed status. With that status, it was understood one had to be dressed according to the function. It was not unusual for a woman of high status to change seven to twelve times a day, depending on their activities. Surely one needed clothes specifically for breakfast, shopping , a workday dress (a misnomer for the wealthy), lunch, a visiting frock, tea dress, and then the elegant dinner gown; only to change into a nightgown for bed. Whew! Exhausting. Men were expected to change at least three times daily. Of course.
It goes without saying this sorting and segmenting went along sex lines and public versus private spheres.
Specialization derived from scientific genus and in some cases, scientific genius, but not all hyper organization was prudent, for there is always a bit of chaos in the ordinary.