A Mid-Bustle Style

One very distinct Mid-Bustle Era/Natural Form style involved a two-layer dress consisting of an underskirt covered by a front-buttoning princess line bodice/overdress. 🙂 One of the best-known examples of this style was immortalized in this painting by Albert Bartholomé:

Albert Bartholomé (French, 1848–1928)
In the Conservatory (Madame Bartholomé), ca. 1881,  Musée d’Orsay, Paris, Gift of the Société des Amis du Musée d’Orsay, 1990

And here’s the actual dress that’s in the picture:

Recently we came across this interesting example from the John Bright Collection that’s unfortunately missing the underskirt:

Day Dress (missing the underskirt), c. 1878-1881; John Bright Collection

Here’s a series of views from various angles:

It’s a bit odd viewing an incomplete dress like this but it’s still a fascinating dress in that the eye is immediately drawn to the stripes and the way that they’re worked on curves that follow body silhouette created by the corset. This is a great example of Mid-Bustle Era style, especially with the use of the princess line and the lack of a defined waist.  Here’s a couple of close-ups of the bodice/overdress:

In terms of materials, this dress appears to be constructed from a combination of silk brocade floral pattern in a light ice-blue color combined with stripes in a slightly darker blue cross-hatched pattern. It’s an interesting complex textile effect. Here’s a close-up:

The collar and cuffs are trimmed in ivory lace with the cuffs further trimmed with cross-hatched layers of the fashion fabric. Also, here’s a close-up of the sleeve cuff:

As for the missing underskirt, that’s a matter for speculation. It could have been some variation utilizing the fashion fabric or perhaps something different in say, a solid color similar to the rest of the dress. Unfortunately, we’ll never know. We hope that you’ve enjoyed this post on one variety of Mid-Bustle Era style and we look forward to bringing more to light in the future.

2 thoughts on “A Mid-Bustle Style

    • It’s a nice dress, prefect for Spring/Summer. It’s one of the few instances where we can see the actual dress that was portrayed in the painting. 🙂

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