Skip to Content

What is a woman’s bustle?

Women’s fashion has evolved over time and has seen a lot of changes in the past few centuries. One aspect of women’s apparel that has seen a lot of changes is the skirt. The Skirt has undergone many transformations over time, and one of the most notable of these transformations was the addition of the bustle. The bustle is not commonly worn today, but it played a significant role in women’s fashion in the late 19th century. This blog post will explore what a woman’s bustle is, its history, and how it was worn.

History of the Bustle

The bustle first became popular in the 1860s. During this time, fashion was heavily influenced by the Victorian era. The Victorian era was characterized by modesty, and women’s clothing had to conceal every part of their bodies. However, this changed over time, and the bustle was introduced.

The bustle was a type of framework placed under the skirt worn by women. It was made of wire, whalebone, steel, or even horsehair, and was designed to protrude at the back of the skirt, giving it a rounded, fuller look. This was in contrast to the more flat, straight look that had been in fashion previously. The bustle was worn to accentuate the natural curves of the hips and give women a more feminine look.

Types of Bustles

There were two main types of bustles: the first was known as the “lobster tail” bustle, and the second was called the “shelf” bustle. The lobster tail bustle was aptly named because of its resemblance to a lobster tail. It was made of vertical rows of cloth or linen and could be adjusted to the size of the wearer’s hips. The shelf bustle was a more substantial framework, consisting of several steel hoops covered in fabric. The steel hoops were arranged in horizontal tiers that protruded at the back of the skirt and provided a shelf-like support for the fabric.

How Was the Bustle Worn?

The bustle was mainly worn underneath dresses or gowns and lasted until the 1890s. Women of all social classes wore them, although their designs and materials varied depending on their social status. Women could also wear them with a tight-fitting jacket or a bodice to accentuate their figure even more.

Initially, there was a lot of criticism towards the bustle. Some critics believed that the protruding shape of the skirt was ridiculous and even grotesque. Some people even referred to bustles as “fad of the moment,” and predicted that they would soon go out of fashion. Nevertheless, the bustle continued to be popular for over two decades.

However, as fashion changed and became more casual towards the beginning of the 20th century, the bustle was phased out. Women no longer wanted to wear heavy frameworks underneath their clothing, and fashion began to shift towards functional, practical clothing.


The bustle was an important part of women’s fashion in the late 19th century. It represented a significant shift from the modest and conservative fashion of the Victorian era towards a more feminine and curvaceous look. The bustle was worn by women of all social classes and came in a variety of designs and materials. It lasted for over two decades and saw many transformations during its lifetime. Though it is no longer popular today, it remains an important part of fashion history and is an excellent example of how fashion trends can reflect the values and attitudes of society.


How did they sit with bustles?

In the late 19th century, bustles were a popular fashion trend for women. A bustle was a structure made of materials such as horsehair, wire mesh, and sometimes even feather pads. These structures were worn under the skirt at the back of the waistline to create the illusion of a curvaceous figure. While wearing a bustle, it was difficult for women to sit down in a normal way.

To sit down, women had to turn their bodies sideways and use the back of the chair as support. This sideways posture was necessary to prevent the bustle from being crushed or damaged. To avoid putting pressure on the bustle, women also had to sit toward the front edge of the chair, with their backs straight. This type of posture was not comfortable or sustainable for a long period of time, which meant that women couldn’t sit for extended periods.

However, some types of bustles, such as the chimney bustle, were designed to collapse as the wearer sat down. A chimney bustle was shaped like an inverted cone, with metal wire hoops. The wires could be compressed flat, allowing the wearer to sit down without damaging the bustle. Once the wearer stood up again, the hoops would spring back into their original shape. Despite this innovation, the chimney bustle was not without problems. While walking, it caused a wobbling effect which was not always desirable.

Wearing a bustle was a fashion statement that required women to sacrifice comfort and ease of movement. Sitting down was an awkward experience, and the wearer had to adopt an uncomfortable posture to prevent damage to the bustle. While some types of bustles were designed to be collapsible, they still caused issues such as a wobbling effect while walking. Nonetheless, The bustle was a popular fashion trend for many women in the late 19th century.

What are the 3 distinct looks of the bustle period?

Bustles were a popular fashion trend during the Victorian era, which saw women’s fashion evolve dramatically towards more elaborate and intricate styles. The bustle period can be divided into two distinct periods, the early bustle period from 1869 through 1876 and the later bustle period from 1883 through 1889. During each of these periods, three categories of bustle support were popular, each with a distinct look and purpose.

The first type of bustle was the lobster-tail or crayfish, which was prominent during both the early and later bustle periods. Named for its distinct shape, the lobster-tail bustle consisted of a series of graduated steel hoops that formed a curved shape at the back of the dress, resembling the tail of a lobster. This bustle was often paired with a tightly fitted bodice and a full skirt, creating an exaggerated hourglass silhouette. The lobster-tail bustle was a favorite of the aristocracy and upper classes due to its expensive materials and complex design.

The second type of bustle was the small bustle, which was popular during the early bustle period from 1869-1876. Unlike the lobster-tail, the small bustle was much simpler and less noticeable. It consisted of a padded pillow or cushion worn low on the back to add slight fullness to the skirt. This type of bustle was worn with walking dresses and other outfits where a more subtle silhouette was desired.

The final type of bustle was the bustle pad or cushion, which was popular during the later bustle period from 1883-1889. As fashions changed during this time, the bustle became less prominent and instead was focused on creating a more rounded and full appearance at the back of the dress. The bustle pad was typically a heavily padded cushion worn high on the back, often reaching the neck. It was designed to fill out the fabric of the dress and create a rounded, exaggerated look.

The bustle period saw a variety of bustle styles come into fashion, ranging from simple padded cushions to complex steel-framed structures. The lobster-tail, small bustle, and bustle pad were the three most popular types of bustle support during this time, each with its distinct look and purpose. While the bustle fell out of fashion by the turn of the 20th century, its influence can still be seen in modern formal wear and period costume design.

What did men wear during the bustle period?

During the bustle period, which spanned from the mid-1870s to the early 1890s, men continued to dress in the formal attire that had been popular for several decades. The basic garments for a man during this time were a 3-piece suit consisting of a sack or frock coat, waistcoat, and trousers. The sack coat was a loose-fitting coat that was worn for everyday purposes, while the more formal frock coat was fitted and had a knee-length hem that curved back. The waistcoat, or vest, was worn underneath the coat and could be made from a variety of materials, including wool, cotton, or silk. It was usually buttoned up to the neck and had lapels that matched the coat.

Underneath their suits, men wore a shirt with a collar that was either stiff and detachable or folded over. The shirt was usually made of cotton or linen and could be plain or striped. The necktie was an essential accessory during this time and came in two primary styles: the bowtie, tied in a neat knot just below the Adam’s apple, and the four-in-hand, a long tie that was tied in a knot and left to hang loose.

When it came to fabric choices, wool was the most popular material for men’s clothing during the bustle period. It was both practical and durable, making it ideal for everyday wear. Trousers were usually made from a lighter material, such as cotton or linen, during the warmer months.

The fashion choices for men during the bustle period were conservative and formal, reflecting the values and social norms of the time. While the basic garments remained relatively unchanged, details such as the shape of the collar and lapel, the color of the tie, and the style of the coat evolved and changed with the times.

Who usually bustles the brides dress?

Bustling a wedding dress is an essential process that needs to be done to ensure that the bride can comfortably move around during the wedding reception and other post-ceremony celebratory events. This process involves gathering up the train of the wedding dress and securing it with small hooks, buttons, or ribbons, so that it doesn’t drag on the floor or get stepped on.

Typically, the person who is responsible for bustling up the dress is the maid of honor or one of the bridesmaids. However, it could also be the bride’s mother, mother-in-law, or anyone that the bride trusts and is comfortable with. The person responsible for bustling the wedding dress will need to come along with the bride to her final fitting session, where the seamstress will demonstrate how to gather up and secure all the layers of the dress.

Bustling up the wedding dress can be a pretty tricky process, especially if you’re not familiar with it. It’s important to note that bustles differ from dress to dress depending on the type of gown and the train’s length. Therefore, it’s essential to have someone who can understand and follow the seamstress’s instructions to help ease the process.

Bustling up the wedding dress requires the effort of a trusted and reliable person who is familiar with the wedding dress’s style and length. It could be the maid of honor, a bridesmaid, the bride’s mother, or anyone else close to the bride, as long as the person can follow the seamstress’ instructions on how to bustle up the wedding dress. Knowing who will be in charge of bustling up the wedding dress can relieve the bride of an unnecessary burden and help her enjoy her wedding day to the fullest.

How did people go to the bathroom in the 1800s?

In the 1800s, people had very different options for going to the bathroom than we do today. For the working classes, the most common option was the “privy”, which was essentially one or two toilets shared amongst the inhabitants of an entire street. These privies were often no more than a wooden bench with a hole in it over a brick-built ash pit. People would use them as needed, and waste would fall into the pit below.

Most people did not have the luxury of indoor plumbing, so going to the bathroom often involved going outside. For those who lived in cities, chamber pots were a common option. These were essentially just small pots that people could use to go to the bathroom in, and then empty later when they had the chance. Chamber pots were especially popular in the winter months, when going outside was not as appealing.

In rural areas, people often went to the bathroom in outhouses. These were small buildings located away from the main house, and inside would be a hole in the ground or a bucket. People would use these facilities, and then either bury the waste or empty the bucket elsewhere.

Going to the bathroom in the 1800s was a very different experience than it is today. Indoor plumbing was not common, and many people had to share facilities with others. However, people made the best of what they had, and some of the solutions they came up with, like the privy, were surprisingly effective. Today, we take for granted the convenience of modern plumbing, but it’s important to remember how different things were just a few centuries ago.

How were dresses fastened in the 1800s?

In the 1800s, women’s clothes were typically fastened using a combination of laces, pins, and hook/eye closures. The style of the dress would determine the method used to fasten it.

For example, women’s corsets were laced up tightly in order to create the popular hourglass figure of the time. These laces could be made from a variety of materials including silk, cotton, and linen. They were often threaded through metal eyelets that were sewn onto the corset in order to prevent the laces from tearing through the fabric.

Dresses themselves were often fastened using hooks and eyes, which were small metal closures sewn onto the placket of the dress. In many cases, buttons were not used as they were not yet mass-produced and were therefore too expensive for most people to afford. However, if a dress did have buttons, they were usually made from a variety of materials such as metal, glass, and shell.

As industrialization began to take off in the late 1800s, buttons became more widespread and affordable. The development of machines that could mold, cut, and stamp ornate buttons as well as plain utilitarian ones allowed for mass production, and suddenly buttons were everywhere. Women’s dresses in the late 1800s could be fastened with buttons, buckles, and even snaps, which were a relatively new invention at the time.

Dresses in the 1800s were typically fastened using laces, pins, and hook/eye closures. As buttons became more affordable due to industrialization, they also became a popular fastening method. However, the design and style of the dress would determine the specific method used to fasten it.

How long does it take to put in a bustle?

If you have a wedding dress or a formal gown with a train, you’ll need to get a bustle added in order to maneuver around without tripping or dragging the hem of your dress. A bustle gathers up the train of a wedding dress or other formal gowns and hooks it to the back of the dress so it’s off the ground.

The question of how long it takes to bustle a dress is a common one. In general, bustling only takes about three to five minutes but is so often left as an afterthought and halfheartedly done that many dresses end up unnecessarily dirty. If you’re getting your bustle done professionally, the timing will depend on a few factors like:

1. The style of your dress
2. How many points of attachment the dress needs
3. The complexity of the bustle
4. The experience of the seamstress or tailor

If you’re doing it yourself, it may take a little longer. Even if you’re not a seasoned seamstress, you can bustle a dress on your own. There are a few different bustle styles to choose from, but a classic overbustle or underbustle are two of the easiest and most commonly used. Either one can easily be done in a few minutes once you know how.

When bustling a dress, it’s important to remember a few tips. First, always make sure you have a designated spot for the bustle to go. Second, rely on the help of your bridesmaids or friends to ensure the bustle is secure and comfortable. Lastly, make sure you’re taking the time to complete the bustle properly to ensure the longevity of the dress and to prevent any potentially disastrous dress mishaps.

In the end, the three to five minutes invested in bustling a dress is a short investment for a pristine dress at the end of the night. With a little practice and patience, anyone can bustle a dress efficiently and effectively.

How often did Victorians wash their clothes?

During the Victorian Era, people did not have access to washing machines or dryers, and thus had to wash their clothes by hand. This meant that the process of doing laundry was much more time consuming and physically demanding than it is today, and as a result, people did not wash their clothes as frequently.

While there is some variation depending on social class and region, the general consensus is that Victorians tended to do their laundry on a weekly basis. This was due in part to the fact that clothes were handmade and expensive, and needed to be cared for in order to last. Additionally, with most people engaging in physical labor and wearing more durable, heavy fabrics like wool and linen, it was not as necessary to wash clothes as frequently as it is today.

The process of washing clothes during the Victorian Era involved first boiling water in a large pot over an open fire, and then adding a mixture of soap, soda, and other cleaning agents. Clothes would then be soaked and scrubbed in the hot water before being rinsed and hung out to dry. This process was time-consuming and labor-intensive, often taking an entire day to complete.

While the weekly laundry day was a chore that many Victorians dreaded, it was also an important and necessary part of daily life. Clean clothing was essential for personal hygiene and social status, and doing laundry was seen as a symbol of domesticity and housekeeping skills. While we take our modern washing machines and dryers for granted, it is important to remember the hard work and dedication that went into keeping clothes clean in the past.