C.1885-1887. This bustle dress has had a very long life and did not originally start out as a bustle dress or even in the present size! The material itself dates from the late 1860's and
is a lovely stiped silk taffeta. This outfit started out life around 1866 as a size 16 cage crinoline gown. I have the original bolero
from the original dress to prove what it had been. Due to the vast amounts of fabric needed for a skirt to go over a cage crinoline in the 1860's, there was often more than enough fabric in the skirt to make a new dress in later decades. This outfit is no exception. In the mid 1880's with the addition
of some maroon satin, it was made into a fashionable bustle dress, still in a large size (waist measures 34"). Then, not so long after that, the bodice was cut down further to fit a young girl and updated to late 1880's styles
with the addition of the newly fashionable "kick up" sleeves, a style which would last until about 1891. The measurements on the late 1880's renovated bodice are shoulders 11 1/2", bust 32" waist 23".
The skirt is trimmed in typical mid 1880's asymetrical style, that is, with decoration not matching on both sides. The skirt
is draped to one side, showing the knife pleating underneath. Whereas the bodice
is still a 1880's bustle style bodice, it shows more of an 1890's influence, being more evenly trimmed. The skirt would have been worn with
a larger sized bustle
. There are slots still in the skirt where bustle steels were built into the
dress, and the ties are still there to tighten them.
To learn more about the original dress, please go to the 1860's section and look in the "Bodice" section at the Striped Bolero.