1880s fashion

A woman stands in a sitting room holding a book. She is dressed in a late-Victorian era dress with a bustle and has flowers in her hair. The slide is hand-coloured.
1880s fashion
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The woman in this slide is wearing a dress with a big skirt supported by a bustle. This type of dress was worn by wealthy women around the 1880s and dates from the late Victorian era.

To get the look for this dress women wore corsets to accentuate their waists and an undergarment called a bustle which pushed out the skirt. There were many types of bustles, also known as 'dress improvers'. There were heavy bustle pads which were stuffed with horsehair and crinolettes which were made from linen stretched over a wire frame. Bustles made it difficult for women to sit down or walk. The dress has extra flounces of material with pleats and tassles to emphasise the bustle's shape. Her accessories include a pearl necklace, book and flowers in her hair. Her shoes are not visible under her dress.

This slide would have been shown in an educational slide show presented to Berlei fitters in the 1930s designed to show the evolution of women's dress and underwear. This slide is a significant part of the Berlei story because it gives historical context to what Berlei were trying to achieve with their less rigid and cumbersome corset designs. They sought to maintain the association the corset had with moral piety, but to move with the times and promote a less restrictive design that allowed women a more active, healthful lifestyle.

Most glass slides shown in Australia were manufactured overseas but this one was made by Linto Bros, 61 Market Street, Sydney. The slide has been hand-coloured.

Notes by Beth Taylor