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 BartholomĂ©), ca. 1881,  MusĂ©e d’Orsay, Paris, Gift of the SociĂ©tĂ© des Amis du MusĂ©e 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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