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Ball Dress | 1806 | Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
Court Gown of Empress Josephine | c. 1804 | Châteaux de Malmaison
Wedding Dress | 1795-1805 | Museu Nacional do Traje e da Moda
Perugia Sandals | 1928-29 | Met Museum
Depres Day Dress | c. 1873-75 | Met Museum
La Mode Illustrée, September 1886
Day Dress | 1886 | Met Museum
I’m ending with the late bustle period, because it seems a good quitting place and is a fun juxtaposition with the requested early bustle period of the 1870s. Quite suddenly around 1883, bustles returned with a vengeance - but they were changed from the first bustle styles. These retained the slim, flat hips of the prior natural form period, creating a dramatic “shelf” at the back of a woman’s skirts that remained until the late 1880s, when it disappeared forever.
Silk Afternoon Dress | 1862 | Met Museum
I’m purposefully skipping the 1850s because I’m not much of a fan, and what you see in the previous post from 1848 is pretty exemplary of 1850s styles as well.
With the invention of the cage crinoline in 1858, skirts widened even more and lifted the weight and unwieldiness of the many petticoats previously used. The skirt silhouette in the height of the 1860s was round. Skirt decorations were minimal compared to earlier periods, and bodices were generally tight to emphasize a woman’s waist, shaped by rigid corsets of whalebone or steel. Rather than tightlacing (which wasn’t very common), the illusion of a much smaller waist was created through the full skirts and elements such as larger sleeves and dropped shoulder seams. After all, with large skirts and large shoulders, anything in the middle looks small! The clever seaming, waist points, and decorations increased this illusion.
Silk Dress | 1840s | eBay auction
Corsets continue to develop and become more and more important as focus is honed in on a woman’s waistline. The continued widening of skirts (with more petticoats and clever corsets with skirt supports like this one) as well as more subtle details, such as seams and bodice decoration, highlight this region and create an illusion of an even smaller waist. Sleeves have become more natural still, and sleeve and skirt decoration both allude to coming stylistic details of the 1850s.
Printed Muslin Dress | c. 1837 (fabric: 1790-1818) | Bowes Museum
Following the example from the beginning of this decade, here we see the trends I mentioned evolving even more. The clearest change is how they’ve softened! Gone are the large sleeves requiring support of their own, lower and more natural is the waistline. The decoration (and all aspects of dress in general) have relaxed from the slightly outrageous styles of the late 1820s and early 1830s; however, you can see the early ’30s neckline and skirt shape has remained.
Silk Dress | c. 1830 | Met
To start off the brief guide of fashion transformation from the 1830s through the rest of the 19th century, we have a gorgeous example from the beginning of the decade!
In the 1820s, the familiar empire silhouette began to show changes that would lead to this style. Slowly, waistlines began to drop, shoulders and skirts to widen, and hair began to rise!
With the lowering of the fashionable waistline back to the natural waist, the corset as most view it began to evolve. In this period, however, they were mainly stiffened with cording, and later light whalebone. Sleeves were held out with supports and skirts only with petticoats, as seen here.