So began the era of the skirt and it was to be 30 years before skirts were worn unhindered by support structures. The round hoop of 1860 evolved into an oval hoop by 1864. As the skirt developed, the back emphasis saw the creation of the first bustle, which had appeared by 1868. The big, soft, high and very draped bustle skirt enjoyed its popularity for 8 years.
In the 1860s, the bodice waist became slightly short but the dropped shoulders remained. Sleeves narrowed and although fitted at the wrist, a little width was available at the elbow. Square yoke lines were often seen for day. These were created with braid, fringe or even developed as a separate piece that could be removed for evening wear, leaving a lower, square neckline.
To emphasize the wide neckline on evening dresses, Bertha collars following the décolleté were made of pleated fabric, ruffles, or lace. In fact fringe, braid and lace were in their element and widely used. Fabric stayed lightweight with lawn, taffeta and silk and wool blends popular. Dresses tended to be made of one fabric but with lace or trim for interest.
Written by The Vintage Fashion Guild