The Victorian bustle era costume look is beautiful. All that lace, ribbon, bows, fringe, pleated trim, ruffles, and frills galore! You want to wear one. Here will guide you through the 3 main bustle periods: the early bustle, the natural form bustle, and the late bustle. All have different shapes and elements that make up the looks and here, you will learn more.
Stick to cottons or other natural looking fabrics. But, for the bustle years, you can get more playful with colors and patterns. Small or large painted florals are always a safe fabric to choose for the era. Colors should be what are naturally found in a garden. Trims were used abundantly on bustle dresses. Although, less so for the late bustle.
Victorian Early Bustle – 1868 to 1875
The early bustle started to form during the later years of the civil war when a more elliptical hoop (instead of a rounded hoop) came into favor due to the rounded hoop becoming so big. It is said that the famed designer of the time, Charles Worth, didn’t really like the look of the rounded hoops as they began growing in width and circumference. His designs began to put more emphasis on the back end of dresses and he added draped over skirts. By 1868, we begin seeing what we would know as a bustle. The early bustle style lasted from 1864-75.
Victorian Natural Form Bustle 1876 – 1883
By 1876, a new bustle shape was appearing. This shape was…well…flat. Sometimes a small pillow was worn under the back side of the skirts. But, not really much else. Trains were very popular during the natural form era. This era lasted until about 1878-83, with the years in between this and the previously mentioned bustle style being more of transitional years where you might have seen both or a combination of the styles.
Victoria Late Bustle – 1884-1890
By 1884, we were now seeing a rather large emphasis on the rear end. The fronts of the skirts were flatter. Trains were still used for evening. The style lasted until about 1889-90.