Bustle and Nineties Period

The silhouette of the Bustle and Nineties Period series (1870-1900) has shifted from the round look of the Crinoline Era to a fitted look with a bustle http://www.schoolsliaison.org.uk/lostluggage/bustle%20ad.jpg, a device made out of horsehair or wire that added fullness to the back of the dress. The Bustle Period is named after this contraption. The Nineties Period was known as the Gay Nineties in the United States and the Belle Epoque in France. The silhouette is now hourglass shaped and clothing is characterized by the flower shaped skirt and shirtwaist with full sleeves.

There are three stages of the bustle but only the first and third stages are seen in this collection. All three types can be seen in the Nineteenth Century Fashion Plates collection, also located in the Special Collections Library. The first stage (1870-1878) is when the bustle is created by manipulation of drapery at the back by the use of pleats, flounces, and bows. The next stage (1878-1883) is when the bustle dropped to below the hips and trailing skirts were supported by a semi-circular frame. The third stage highlights the shelf bustle, the large almost horizontal protrusion, and is seen in the two fashion plates in Les Modes Parisiennes: Peterson's Magazine.

The exaggerated silhouette of the Bustle Period has been simplified in the Nineties Period to a fitted hourglass shape with vestiges of the bustle shown in the pleats or draperies at the back of the skirt.


Five Women, Les Modes Parisiennes: Peterson's Magazine, December 1884 Bride and Four Women, Les Modes Parisiennes: Peterson’s Magazine, October 1885 Two Women in Day Dress, La Mode Illustree, no. 52, 1893 Two Women, La Mode Illustree, no. 18, May 1898
This fashion plate is a good example of the horizontal effect of the shelf bustle. Some costume features in this image are the jacket style bodices, skirts ending several inches above the floor, and accessories such as gloves, decorated hats, and muffs. These gowns typify the silhouette of the Bustle Era. The bodices are close fitting with three quarter length sleeves. The skirts are flat in the front with swags of cloth as decoration.

These two women are wearing tailor-mades, which were worn outside the home. Tailors, rather than dressmakers, made them, hence the name. They have the wide leg-o-mutton sleeves, fitted bodices, and bell-shaped skirts. Small hats complete the outfits.

This fashion plate is a good example of late Nineties style. The large sleeves have deflated to small puffs on the shoulder, with the rest of the sleeve being fitted. Hair is worn in the “Gibson Girl” style, puffed around the face and pulled into a pompadour.


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