Bustle and Gilded Age


The years following the end of the Civil War saw the rise and fall of two different bustle periods. The first period, from the late 1860’s through 1879, featured a soft bustle silhouette with somewhat of a full skirt. Between 1879 and 1881, the silhouette became long and tight, with only a little fullness below the calves on the back of the skirts remaining. After 1881, the bustle returned, but this time as a more dramatic “shelf” shape that was almost flat on top. The skirts during this period were less full than during the first bustle period. The bustle disappeared again in 1889 as the gored skirt and full “leg-o-mutton” sleeves of the Gibson Girl era came into fashion. The huge sleeves passed into the dustbins of history once again by 1895, but the gored, trumpet shaped skirts remained in fashion until the mid 1900’s.