Shop Early Victorian
Ladies fashions during the Victorian Era are divided into three distinct fashion periods; the Early Bustle (1869 – 1876), Natural Form (1877 – 1882), and Late Bustle (1883-1889). Here, we will discuss the Early Bustle – or Early Victorian – period.
In 1837 the young (18 years old) and lovely Queen Victoria ascended to the throne, and introduced new ways of dressing that set the tone for ladies of style and status for the next 60 years. Indeed women all over the world tried to emulate this much-adored queen.
The Early Bustle period (1869-1876) followed the Civil War (1861-1865) and many of the characteristics of that earlier period can still be seen in the clothing. Ladies wear was characterized by tight-fitting bodices, which had long, pointed seams at the front. All boning and seams were planned to emphasize a small waist. The bodice usually had a very high neck, and the very full sleeves of an earlier time were replaced with long closely-fitted sleeves. The sleeve was “dropped” from the shoulder a bit more than we are used to seeing today, and there was very little fullness at the sleeve head. These bodices were worn with separate, very full skirts. A bustle was worn under the skirt, as well as two or more petticoats. There was usually an overskirt as well, either in the form of an apron-like drape across the front of the skirt, and/or an elaborately draped and pleated overskirt which covered the back of the skirt. The skirt itself was usually embellished with layers of ruffles, rouching or other trims.
As in the entire era, a tiny waist was of great fashion importance, and a 15-inch waist was considered ideal. With sleeves growing narrower, skirts expanded and draperies of all sorts were added, as well as supporting structures, including bustles and crinolines to retain the larger shape. It was thought that this extra bulk contrasted with the waist to make it appear smaller.
Following Victoria’s lead, fashion was at once modest and elaborate. At the time of her arrival, slow methods of communication meant that styles changed slowly over several years, but later in the Victorian age, improved communication meant that styles began to change much more rapidly, as every woman wanted to be clothed in “the latest” styles.
Step back to an age of romance and gentility, as you enjoy the romantic fashions presented here!