The 1870s, that is! 🙂 Below is one extremely interesting example of Early Bustle Era style from circa 1872-1875 that epitomizes many of the style elements of early 1870s style:
This dress is an interesting combination of a lavender silk brocade combined with silk satin gold stripe panels edged in red that run along the lower underskirt and hem as well as an edging for the overskirt; the same treatment is also found on the bodice and sleeve cuffs. What’s also interesting is that the gold striping acts to frame the overskirt and the bodice making for a bright contrast with the more subdued lavender fashion fabric. Here are some close-ups of the various fabrics:
Looking closer at the fashion fabric, one can see a pattern of white dots with red/green/white floral(?) elements in between. At a distance, the floral elements appear to be gold, an effect no doubt influenced by the higher luster gold striping. Also, it’s interesting that on the lower underskirt, the fashion fabric has been cut on the bias, presenting the white dot stripes on the diagonal.
Next, let’s take a look at one of the sleeve cuffs which gives us some more detail about the gold stripes. It would appear that the gold silk satin stripes are overlaid on an orange/red fabric (appears to also be silk satin). Style-wise, the turn-back cuffs are 18th Century inspired with the rows of buttons and exaggerated button holes and nicely complement the rest of the dress.
Finally, here’s a view of the dress in a more natural display:
From this view, one can see the bottom of the bodice whose lines are more angular along the bottom than the usual smooth curves which was more the norm. What is also striking is the long line of buttons and associated detail running along the edge of the overskirt, serving to draw the eye. Here’s a closer view:
Finally, here’s a view of the upper skirt and waistband:
Here we see that part of the trained/bustled effect was achieved through artfully contrived loops and buttons. It’s hard to tell but from this angle, it appears that this is the underskirt. Overall, this is a nice example of the early 1870s style and is actually a bit restrained in terms of yardage and the train/bustle effect- many dresses of this era seemed to have been designed with the idea of cramming as much yardage as possible into the train, thus making the wearer look like they’re overstuffed couch. The one that we especially like is it’s pristine condition (well, it IS the Met Museum, after all!) and clean lines. This one is certainly an inspiration, both in terms of colors and fabrics and style.