In the early 1870s the shoulders were allowed to return to the position nature intended. In 1876-78 the long line cuirass bodice appeared. This reached to the hips in all its molded, whale-boned glory. Day bodices had high necklines and fitted sleeves with pleated or ruffled cuffs at the wrists. The new look for evening was three-quarter length sleeves with a square neckline.
In 1876, although the amount of skirt drapery remained constant (if not even more complex), the bustle foundation disappeared and a very small hoop was worn, primarily to keep the mass of fabric away from the feet.
Fabrics were light in color and weight with favored fabrics being cotton, silk-taffeta and light wool. The problem of fitting outerwear over bustles was solved as three-quarter length cloaks and Dolman mantles (a short capelet with wide sleeves that were quite restrictive) began to make an appearance.
Written by The Vintage Fashion Guild