More Mid-Bustle Style

Joseph Scheurenberg, Confidences, 1878

Today we take take our examination of Mid-Bustle Era/Natural style further with this circa 1879-1881 day dress:

Day Dress, c. 1879-1881; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.50.105.17)

This dress is constructed of old gold/champagne-colored silk taffeta for the skirt and and bodice body combined with black silk taffeta on the sleeves and parts of the bodice. The old gold/champagne color combined with neutral black make a harmonizing combination and especially on the bodice. The straight lines of the natural form/Mid-Bustle silhouette are given further emphasis with the vertical stripes of the bodice. The use of the same black silk taffeta to trim the skirt and hem finish the dress in a pleasing manner.

From the above picture, we can see that while there is some bustling, it’s pretty restrained and really only services to support the train at the bottom. Also, in the above picture, it’s interesting to see the use of a polonaise-style bodice that is long in front, tapering to waist level in the back and ending with a large bow.

As can be seen from the above two pictures, the train is more restrained than the dress featured yesterday. Looking at the rear, the use of black taffeta for the bodice back draw the viewer’s eye towards the waist with its bow and draping that lead the eye further down towards the train. This is contrast to the front where the viewer’s eye is drawn in the opposite direction towards the bodice top and neckline.

Although this dress consists of separate skirt and bodice, their lines emphasize the upright, cylindrical shape characteristic of this period.  About the only flaw we can find is with the rear train and box- it all appears very untidy BUT this may have more to do with the staging of the dress on the mannequin rather than any inherent flaw in the dress itself.  Stay tuned as we unearth more styles from this brief but interesting period.


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