Fates of bustles and sleeves

In the 1880s, as my protagonist Irma entered the world of women’s fashion, machine-made clothes were readily available and upper class women, with money to burn sought out skilled dressmakers to embellish, over-lay, tuck and gather, creating elaborate architectures, often framed around bustles. So we have the famed First or “hard” Bustle Period of the 1870s giving way to the Second or “soft” Bustle Period of the 1880s, both feeding the hips-and-backview fetish of Victorian men and fashionistas. In the 1890s, bustles were out, gone, booted. Now, fashion architects turned to bizarre sleeve structures, with Punch magazine ready with mockery. For more on the bustle, elegantly written, see the lovely site Such Eternal Delight from whence comes this illustration.

Pamela Schoenewaldt, historical novels of immigration and the search for self in new worlds: WHEN WE WERE STRANGERS and SWIMMING IN THE MOON (both HarperCollins).

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