Popular demand brought back the bustle in 1883, but it was now worn at a lower placement with a narrower width. Dresses worn over this new frame were sturdier, constructed in heavier fabrics such as velvet, satin, and wool. Colors were darker; e.g., bottle green, deep wine, navy blue, and black. Mercifully, cotton and linen were used for summer. Drapery was stiffer and considerably more rigid than in the 1870s.
This was a decade of severely tight, restrictive corsetry that was worn (or endured) under dresses with long, boned bodices; tight sleeves; and high necklines. A very modest and even prudish look on the surface, this silhouette was so torso-defining that a woman’s shape could hardly go unnoticed. Skirts were almost always layered and draped, often with an apron front and a trained back. Pleating was everywhere, both in skirt construction and in trimming. With all of this going on, dresses could weigh 15 to 20 pounds!
Written by The Vintage Fashion Guild