Fashions changed throughout the nineteenth century. During the Regency era, 1811–1820, many of the gowns were high-waisted with little flair to the skirt. But during the longer Victorian period, there were several different silhouettes. Throughout the mid-nineteenth century, crinolines were fashionable. Crinoline dresses had full, bell-shaped skirts. This style of dress, along with the use of a corset, helped make women’s waistlines look smaller.
To make their skirts flare wide, women wore a cage-style underskirt. Most were made of steel, but other materials, such as whalebone, were used as well. Here is a picture of Princess Dagmar of Denmark during the 1860s. The second image is of an 1865 cage crinoline with steel hoops.
The crinoline fell out of favor during the late 1860s and was replaced by the bustle. Though slimmer in the hips, it protruded in the back of the gown. The bustle remained fashionable until the end of the nineteenth century. It did fall out of favor for a short period during those decades but had a resurgence. At the end of the century, gowns with an A-line skirt were becoming more popular. The bustle had varying sizes, from a small protrusion at the back of the dress to a much more pronounced projection. Here is a picture of a bustle-style gown from the 1870s. The next picture is of an 1885 bustle undergarment that would help give the gown its silhouette. This bustle undergarment is made of cotton and steel, but for a smaller bustle, the undergarment could be made from layers of fabric or a padded garment.
The movie Gone with the Wind, which spans from 1861 to 1873, shows the shift from Scarlett O’Hara’s wide-skirted crinoline gowns to the slimmer bustle gowns. In my newest Victorian historical romance, Never Kiss a Notorious Marquess, the heroine in the story, Caroline Lawrence, is not a fan of bustled gowns. She thinks the bustle is a ridiculous style that makes sitting in comfort nearly impossible. She believes a man who didn’t care for women invented it.
Secrets can destroy …
For James Trent, Lord Huntington, there’s no escaping the question that labeled him the Murdering Marquess: Was his wife’s death a tragic accident or a cold-blooded crime? He’s avoided London’s gossipmongers as guardian to his younger siblings on his Essex estate. But trouble finds him when a veiled temptress with secrets of her own falls—quite literally—at his feet.
Caroline Lawrence doesn’t need a man to rescue her—the aspiring journalist anonymously advocates for women’s rights in a radical London newspaper column. But when a suffragist’s soapbox speech turns to pandemonium, Caroline is knocked on the head and reawakens in Trent Hall—with the notorious lord of the manor irresistibly close.
About the Author
USA Today best-selling author Renee Ann Miller writes historical romances that are sometimes witty, sometimes dark, but always sensual. She was a 2015 and 2016 finalist in the Golden Heart Contest from Romance Writers of America. Renee penned her first book at the tender age of seven and even drew the impressive stick figures—though clearly those characters weren’t as risqué as the ones she writes now.
She loves romantic stories, excessive amounts of chocolate, do-it-yourself projects, gardening, and pastries. She lives in the Northeast with her wonderful husband; they met their first day at college and have been married for more than twenty-five years. Read more at ReneeannMiller.com and at the social media sites below.