Magnificent 3-Piece Antique Victorian Bustle Dress, Circa 1885
A museum quality Victorian gown, this marvelous bustle dress dates to the second bustle period of the mid-1880s.
Made from chocolate brown silk faille, the dress is made up of a bodice, a bustled overskirt, and draped skirt.
The very tailored bodice, with pleated peplum to cover the bustle, reflects the 1880s change to the shoulder seam placement at the natural shoulder line. It closes up the front with 21 glass buttons – beautiful in themselves, with almost a copper iridescence – 3 of these are missing. The band collar shows pin marks where a brooch was worn at the base of the throat. Fully lined, the seams are hand overcast. Underarm protectors remain in place and, I believe, are only age darkened. There is a water mark at center back, on the lining only, about the size of a quarter and the tape to hang the bodice remains at the back of the neck.
The overskirt panel is pleated and forms a sort of “bow” or “butterfly” effect, very puffy! The waist band/tie has also been replaced on this piece, but has been done very conscientiously as the brown tape that was used to hang the overskirt was reused on the band. (We were not the conservator of this piece, but kudos to whomever did the work!)
The skirt has an attached asymmetrical drape, formed by a wide box pleat at center front and then pleated and attached at the right side seam. Knife pleats from the left of center front then blend flawlessly with the skirt’s own knife pleats to the back closure. The waistband has been replaced, but it would appear that the large period hook and eye were retained and are used to complete the waist closure. The hemline is decorated with inverted box pleats.
The skirt is fully lined in brown cotton with a 1 3/8” self-fabric, turned hem that is bound with wool hem tape. There is also a 5” black linen hem protector. A single tape is sewn at the back for use in forming the bustle effect. There is a pocket at the left front, in a seam and under the draping.
The condition of all three pieces is impeccable! The fabric is very strong with a very few lighter areas – so minimal that they are difficult to find and photograph. The replacement of the waistbands has been done perfectly and only adds to the exceptional condition of this unbelievable dress.
Approximate measurements are given for reference only as a garment of this age should never be worn.
Skirt Length: 40”
Shoulder to Shoulder: 10 ¼
Bodice Length: 20”
Dress is displayed on a dress form with a cage crinoline and bustle which are not included but may be available separately.
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