Warning: file_put_contents(/home/content/06/5020706/html/historyoffashiondesign/wp-content/uploads/custom_styles/dynamic.css) [function.file-put-contents]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/content/06/5020706/html/historyoffashiondesign/wp-content/themes/kleo/kleo-framework/lib/function-core.php on line 564
The First and Second Bustle Periods Lesson10 | History of Fashion Design

The First and Second Bustle Periods Lesson10

First and Second Bustle Periods

Step 1:

Read the online “lecture” on dress in the 1870’s & 1880’s below and click on any links that interest you.  You are not required to read all the material on all the links, however:

Dress in The First and Second Bustle Periods


Fashionable women’s dress in the era of the 1870’s and 1880’s, while looking quite modest to modern eyes, was viewed as unashamedly erotic in it’s own day. The bustle, the cornerstone on which women’s dress depended, focused the majority of the decoration and clothing focus on a woman’s backside, and emphasized the movement of that body part to heroic proportions.

The dress of the first bustle period (1870’s) is noted for the lightness of it’s material and decoration, swathing the lower reaches of a woman’s body in numerous ruffles and pleats, often in light colors using the new and vibrant aniline dyes

 Image courtesy of Aquarian Gallery Antique Prints and Maps

Late in this decade (1878-79) was the “Fishtail” style, where the lower part of the skirt was tight, and ended in a train.

The second bustle period (the 1880’s) is heavier, with decoration more resembling upholstery style.  Colors get more Jewel-toned and velvets, heavy satins and brocades replace the taffetas and cottons of the 1870’s. Surface decoration is often of passementarie or jet beads, giving the whole ensemble a more mature flavor.

Men’s dress in this era continues in it’s general dullness but begins to be enlivened with sportswear, an area that continues to provide the most intriguing variants of men’s dress.

  • Vanity Fair Illustrations of notable Englishmen of the late 19th Century

Dress during the 1870’s and 1880’s came more and more under the influence of  the Rational Dress Movement and the Aesthetic Movement .  Dress reform from artists, feminists and socialists provided a continuous counterpoint to the more frivolous dress of fashionable women, and the more tedious dress of fashionable men.

  • Dress Reform Movement 1850-1914

Anti-corset caricature

Dress reformers of the Aesthetic movement such as Oscar Wilde promoted jewel-toned velvet suits with breeches for men, but only found a lasting audience among mothers who dressed small boys in “Little Lord Fauntleroy” suits in this style. Caricaturists such as George du Maurier simultaneously lampooned the Aesthetic dress even as they spread it’s influence.  The Gilbert and Sullivan opera Patience spread the Aesthetic style to America, with costumes from Liberty Co. where it was transformed in the following decades into the Arts and Crafts Movement.  Women’s aesthetic dress, with it’s semi medieval lines and uncorseted waists were transformed by popular taste into the Teagown, a fashionable lady’s at home garment.

Rational dress advocates like George Bernard Shaw tried to popularize Jaeger combination suits (which resembled woolen long johns), but were laughed off the streets.  Dr Jaeger’s more conservative ensembles of wool knickers and a Norfolk jacket however were accepted as men’s sportswear even among the fashionable.

Hunting suits of the 1870’s

  • Victorian Costume Links Page
Step 2:Choose from one of the following topics to do a short research project:

  • Victorian Menswear
  • Victorian Dress Reform
  • Victorian Western Wear
  • Victorian Children’s Fashion


We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.


Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?