Each week we’ll be posting select objects from Exposed, along with their catalogue entries in the accompanying book. Love this lingerie? You can share it on social media with the links below!
The bustle appeared late in the 1860s.1 It took many forms over the next twenty years, but all bustles were designed to emphasize the posterior. They created a marked contrast to slim, corseted waists covered in tightly fitted bodices.2 Skirts that were heavily gathered, pleated, and embellished in back further enhanced the bustle silhouette.
Some smaller versions of the bustle were made from wire mesh, short hoops, or cushions that were fastened to the body with a buckled waist tape. The more extreme bustle styles, such as those of the early 1880s, were often more elaborately structured. This example – a hybrid of a bustle and a petticoat – was sometimes referred to as a “crinolette.” Although the crinolette maintained the desired skirt shape, it proved somewhat difficult to wear. One magazine from the period despaired that it was prone to wobbling when the wearer walked, and recommended that women instead have their skirts made with built-in, horsehair bustles.3
1. Casey Finch, “Hooked and Buttoned Together: Victorian Underwear and Representations of the Female Body,” Victorian Studies 34 (Spring 1991): 346.
2. “Ladies’ Department: Fashion Chat,” Saturday Evening Post (September 9, 1882): 16.