A recent comment on the Facebook page indicated that the particular poster could not understand why anyone would want to wear something that made their behind big. Mind you, this was on a photo post of a Regency gown.
My mind went immediately to my love of dresses from the 1870s and the popular “I like big butts and I cannot lie” phrase we costumers have taken up recently to support the grand Bustle Era silhouettes.
Then I thought more of it. As I raced through each decade of the 1800s, it occurred to me that pretty much all fashion from the Regency to Late Victorian has some sort of emphasis on the back side. Let me show you…
Here, although we have an overall slender shape, the skirts are still decidedly gathered toward the center back. Even a small sausage-shaped pad was added underneath to help support the skirt and it’s rounding out from the middle of the back.
Romantic Era – 1820s & 30s
As we move forward, the skirt shape changes to more gored panels and the skirts widen.
BUT you can see there is still a trend to keep full gathers at the center back, only this time the waistline is actually at the waist and not above it. Pads were used to help fill out the sway of the lower back to support the skirt. See?… adding to that Big Butt theory.
Early Victorian – 1840s
Continuing along the same lines as the previous decade, the skirts are full and mostly deep pleated around the waist.
But here it is again – padding the back side with more fabric gathered into the small of the back.
Mid-Victorian – 1850s & 60s
Ok… so I guess the 1850s don’t go so far into adding to back width. Skirts are fairly round and pleated evenly around the waist.
But then comes the elliptical hoop of the 1860s….
Well, the butt happens to be hidden from any curved silhouette, but the emphasis on the swing of the skirt to the back HAS to count for adding girth to the body back there! Right?
Bustle Era – 1870s & 80s
Now the epitome of what it means to “like Big Butts.” I think bustle dresses are the most beautiful dresses of the 19th Century! And who cares if the skirt drags out behind, enlarging the back side into swirls of taffeta and ribbons.
Let’s not talk about how wonderful this silhouette is for those of us naturally endowed with a bit extra on our hips… The designs create a wonderful feminine image.
Late Victorian – 1890s
We’ve reached the last decade of Victorian dress. This is pure hourglass shaping! BUT… can you see that even with gored skirts and tiny waists you still find a concentration of excess fabric gathered into the center back waist?
I think our theory has been proved… Big Butts rule the 1800s! If you love the fashion – either making it or wearing it, or simply studying it, and if you don’t like wide behinds, you won’t enjoy all the delicious treats of 19th C. clothing. 🙂
Have you ever thought of the strong similarities in back emphasis on clothing throughout the 19th Century? Interesting, huh?