Old Photos

1870’s Women’s Fashions – From Hoop Skirts to Bustles to Trains

The photos I share with you today show the progression of women’s fashions during the 1870’s.  This was a decade of taking the very full skirts worn by women for 40 years, and narrowing that skirt to fit more closely to the body, which was then eventually gathered into a bustle at the back, sometimes with a train.  Multiple types of fabrics were sometimes used, and many decorations.

In our first photo the lady still wears the very full skirts familiar from the 1860’s, with possibly a hoop or crinoline skirts underneath.  But notice the over-skirt, better known as a peplume.  It is ruffled and fringed to match the bodice and sleeves of the dress.

In our second photo you can see quite a change – the large, bell-shaped sleeves have given way to modest sleeves.  Our subject is handsome, her hair neatly braided, circling her head.  She wears nice jewelry and carelessly holds her fan.

Photo number three is of a relatively young woman, but is a great example of the skirt pulled towards the back.  It is narrow in the front (compared to the 1860’s – it still took 3-5 yards of material to make), and you can just see the gathering down the front, next to the chair.

Our fourth photo gives yet another example of the much narrower skirt.  She wears a very warm fur jacket.

This photo has two great examples of bustles.  I believe all that material gathered in back would make sitting difficult.  Perhaps that’s why the two women appear to lean against the table.

A long train was adopted in the 1870’s.  It was an objectionable fashion, as women complained it was inconvenient.  But it was known for its gracefulness and beauty and thus it was worn.

One more highly decorated dress with bustle and train.

How do you think the fashions of the 1870’s compare to those of the 1860’s?  Which would you wear?

3 replies »

  1. My grandmother use to tell us to take care of our “Sunday go to meetin’ clothes”. During the week we wore whatever fit and would keep us warm, generally hand-me-downs. It is my guess that the dresses and suits that folks had their photos taken in were their Sunday best. It would be interesting to see what people wore for around the cabin or for work. Ladies especially in the south, it seems to me would, not wear dark hot heavy dresses like we see in these photos. Men could just take of their layers and be relatively comfortable, but ladies, in the name of decorum and modesty could not do that. My guess is they would come home from church or the photographer and change into their “rags” or work clothes. Just curious what that would look like in the 1800s.

  2. This was taken in St Louis MO – any idea of date? Center woman is my great grandmother Rose (McNeely) O’Donnell – thank you. Julie

    Billy Ray Chitwood

    https://www.billyraychitwood.com http://about.me/brchitwood

    On Fri, Sep 6, 2019 at 6:02 AM Kentucky Kindred Genealogy wrote:

    > Kentucky Kindred Genealogical Research posted: “The photos I share with > you today show the progression of women’s fashions during the 1870’s. This > was a decade of taking the very full skirts worn by women for 40 years, and > narrowing that skirt to fit more closely to the body, which was then > eventually” >

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