Trending For The Late 1870s- A Look At The Princess Line Dress

As many of you might have figured out already, we at Lily Absinthe have a love for the Mid-Bustle period and we’re always returning to it for commentary. Don’t get us wrong, we love all the styles of the late 19th and early 20th centuries but the silhouette of the Mid-Bustle period of the late 1870s continues to draw our attention. Maybe it’s the upright sculpted lines or perhaps the various fabrics and colors, it’s hard to say. And then, there’s the subset of the princess line style, the focus of today’s post- executed correctly, it’s an aesthetic joy to behold. So without further adieu, here we are… Enjoy!


Today we return to the Mid-Bustle Era to take a look at some interesting examples of the princess line style. With its long horizontal lines and lack of a waist seam, the princess line style was especially suited for the “natural form” aesthetic, especially with its low train and lack of a bustle. First up is this example from circa 1876:

Dinner Dress c. 1876

Dinner Dress, c. 1876; Metropolitan Museum of Art (1975.227.3)

Here’s a close-up of the bodice:

Dinner Dress c. 1876

Dinner Dress c. 1876

Side Profile

Dinner Dress c. 1876

Rear View

And here’s a view of the upper hem:

Dinner Dress c. 1876

Close-up of hem.

Here we see knife pleating combined with bow attached to what appears to be beaded cables. It’s hard to determine just what exactly the bow are made of. Above the upper hem line, we also catch a glimpse of the silk brocade fashion fabric. Here’s a close-up of the fashion fabric which appears to be a silk brocade composed of a combination of French blue and gold:

Dinner Dress c. 1876

Close-up of fashion fabric.

Overall, it’s an incredible dress with a luminescent color combination and very clean princess lines. Next, for a little contrast, we have this example from circa 1876-1880 (although the original auction site had this labeled at 1874, we believe that date is too early):

Side Profile

Rear View

In terms of silhouette, this example is somewhat less “sculpted” (although this may be due to poor staging) and features a more conventional two-color combination of a dark teal silk velvet combined with a light mint green/celedon silk and incorporating lace trim on the front and lower hem to frame the velvet. The low train is typical of the Mid-Bustle style, characterized by a low demi-train. Below is a close-up of the train:

The train is fairly standard with one row of knife pleating running along the hem accented by a strip of teal piping running along the tip. Below are some views of the skirt:

Finally, here are some views of the bodice:

Although the colors are faded and the velvet has worn down, it’s still an interesting color combination. Based on the use of a two-color scheme for the fabric, we would be inclined to date this a bit towards 1876-1877. We hope you have enjoyed this little excursion in the princess line style of the Mid-Bustle Era and we’ll be featuring more in future posts. 🙂

3 thoughts on “Trending For The Late 1870s- A Look At The Princess Line Dress

  1. Pingback: The Princess Line, Redux | Lily Absinthe

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