Clichè, I know, but I decided to follow my heart. I took note of what made my mouth dry with admiration, the things that made me go "Oooo!" out loud, and spill my coffee. Mostly, I found, this happened to be stuff from the late Victorian era. I like big butts, apparenly, so the bigger the bustle, the more sweaty my hands.
|Portrait of Baroness von Derwies, 1871.|
Example of a first bustle era dress style.
Bustles first came into fashion in 1870. The wide hooped skirts of the 1860s started to change, as the fullness migrated towards the back. The skirts were gathered up with tabs and buttons to form a pouf, and the wire bustle was introduced to support the skirt.
|An example of a 1870s wire bustle.|
The Metropolitan museum of Art.
In this first bustle period, there were still quite a lot of fullness at the front as well as the back. In 1875, a more slender silhouette appeared. The wire bustle was put aside, and sleek lines with tight fitted bodices and narrower trained skirts became fashion.
|Slender, Natural form silhouette.|
Around 1880, the bustle was reintroduced in France, but it wasn't until 1883 that it took off as the new silhouette. This time, the bustle was even bigger, and formed almost a straight angle to the back. In the late 80s, the bustle again diminished as the skirts widened, and fullness migrated down the back. By the mid 1890s the bustle was mostly gone, and fashion evolved towards what would become the Edwardian silhouette.
This is of course a very simplified summary of the bustle period, as there were many details to womens clothing and fashion during this short space of time.
Right, now. Where was I? Oh yes, the outfit!
I tried to pinpoint what I would like to do in my outfit. Would I attend a ball? Or a park picnic? Would there be walking involved? Dancing, perhaps? Indoors/outdoors? Summer/winter?
Another consideration other costumers focus on, is what kind of person you portray. Working class women dressed very differently than an upper middle class lady. If I was doing reenactment, this could be a concern, but my focus is just to try recreate something that I love the look of, and that is within my budget material wise. And of course, there is the skill range.
|See more photos, and read the story of this dress|
and it's wearer here.
I have now landed on something that isn't too dressy (if you could ever say that about victorian clothing) or complicated, but no less lovely! I want to do a walking suit/ travelling ensemble as my first make.
And it will be heavily inspired by this 1887 outfit, designed by Herman Rossberg.
I love the muted colors, that show off the design elements. I find it very elegant and mature, but not frumpy. I like that it can be dressed up with a set of more fancy sleeve cuffs, collar and front insert. And I really love the simple, yet intricate soutache trim. Here you can clearly see an example of a grand bustle of the mid 1880s. That butt is huge!!
The original design has two different bodices, and despite how much I love both styles, I think I'll be making just the short one, with the small back pleat detail.
I am probably in way over my head here, but I want to see if it can be done! I am not in any hurry, so if you are expecting to see a finished outfit by the end of next month, don't hold your breath. There is lots of research to be done, petticoats and wire bustles to be made! If anyone has pattern suggestions, for any part of the ensemble, I would really appreciate it. For the bodice, I have set my sights on Truly Victorian #466 or #463. They both seem to fit the bill, with some alterations.
The skirt is giving me a headache, there seems to be concealed pleats at center front and sides, and some straight panels. And then there's that fabulously draped overskirt with the assymetric bustle.
So what do you think? (Other than how insane I clearly must be!)
I already got most of the fabric for it, but I fear I'll have to use two tones for the skirts. Calculating yardage for this thing is not my strong suit, and suggestions online range an aweful lot. I fear the skirt is a major fabric hog. The muslin will answer that question, no doubt! I have nearly 8 meters, but it's most likely not enough. I found a gorgeous wool gabardine on sale, and bought what was left. So we'll see :)
Fun times ahead!