The change in dress from the Crinoline to the Bustle was not to flamboyance but to careful grooming. Clothing became standardized, in which the clubman differs from the grocers boy only because of the superior skill of his tailor and in the greater sobriety of his ensemble. Womens clothing changed from the grotequesness of the Crinoline to the exaggeration of the Bustle.
The actual changes in mens dress from the Crinoline to that of the Bustle have to do with closer-cropped hair, less flamboyant whiskers, a somewhat greater variety of hats and coats, and returning to knee-breeches. These breeches, which had been the emblem of aristocracy when pantaloons were regarded as badges of the Jacobin, were now found in the opposite camp, symbols of the free-and-easy world of sports in contrast to the trousered formality of counting-house and drawing-room. Now that restraint and careful grooming were the essence of good dressing, the London tailor was the dictator of mens fashions.
The shape of a woman below her waist had not concerned the general public until the 1860s. Her hips became important, and corseting them was a matter for serious consideration. Although the Grecian Bend, forward-tipping upon high-heeled shoes, emphasized a curing rear, the abdomen was not flattened for the straight-front was yet in the future. The corset of a late Victorian lady rose up high in front, sustaining and even pushing up the bust; it pressed with cruel firmness upon her ribs, her diaphragm, and her internal organs; and then curved out with a generous sweep for a short distance over the abdomen and hips. Even under the princess gowns this shape was unchanged, the smooth modeling of the figure being accomplished by carefully cut under-petticoats. It might be sports that freed the woman because in the latter century corset strings were loosened so women might play croquet, archery and even tennis.
Masculine colors continued to monochromatic and drab but they made up for that in patterns of plaid, checks or sprigs. Sock and ties did allow for men to show some color. Women could wear any color and black combined with color was a universal favorite.
Notable Period Costume Elements
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