Friends, I'm no fashion historian but the bustle has got to be one of the strangest styles to come out of the Ninteenth Century. To me, this silhouette is simply bizarre, whether it's worn by Queen Victoria, Nellie Oleson, or an Eighties bride with possible incontinence problems.
But -- no pun intended -- there is an exception to my bustle bashing. I love the bustle-back dresses of the mid-to-late Forties. LOVE! If you own the pattern below I may have to burglarize your house.
Let's see how this vintage bustle-back was accomplished. Sometimes it was no more than an artfully arranged bow.
Often it was combined with a panier-type side drape (or modified peplum) for more of a "drawing back the drapes" look.
Or it was fashioned as folds or pleats created in the drape of the skirt itself.
The Butterick pattern below looks more like a little oval pillow (or fanny pack).
Either way, I think these look fantastic, at least in the drawings.
Of course, in the Eighties, they had to take this elegant vintage trend, glitz it up a là Alexis Carrington, and spoil it. So what else is new?
Now I'm guessing a lot of modern women are gonna say, "ruffles on my butt is the last thing I need" but perhaps this is a bit like the shelf bust: embellish it proudly and it looks like you really are just hoisting around a big bow or a nest of tulle. Yes? No? Maybe -- at gunpoint?
In closing readers, as per our regular format, I must ask your expert opinions -- and they will differ, no doubt:
Bustles and/or embellished behinds -- YEA or NAY?
P.S. You can read more about the history of the bustle here.
I'm a native New Yorker and sewing fanatic! I started sewing in 2009 and today make all my own clothes using vintage sewing machines and vintage patterns, in addition to sewing for private clients. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!