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Fashion in the 1880s in European and European-influenced countries is characterized by the return of the bustle. The long, lean line of the 1870s was replaced by a full, curvy silhouette with gradually widening shoulders. Fashionable waists were low and tiny below a full, low bust supported by a corset. The Rational Dress Society was founded in 1881 in reaction to the extremes of fashionable corsetryAs in the previous decade, emphasis remained on the back of the skirt, with fullness gradually rising from behind the knees to just below the waist. The fullness over the bottom was balanced by a fuller, lower chest, achieved by rigid corseting, creating an S-shaped silhouette.
Skirts were looped, draped, or tied up in various ways, and worn over matching or contrasting underskirts. The polonaise was a revival style based on a fashion of the 1780s, with a fitted, cutaway overdress caught up and draped over an underskirt. Long, jacket-like fitted bodices called basques were also popular for daywear.
Evening dresses were sleeveless and low-necked (except for matrons), and were worn with long over the elbow or shoulder length gloves of fine kid leather or suede.
Choker necklaces and jewelled collars were fashionable under the influence of Alexandra, Princess of Wales, who wore this fashion to disguise a scar on her neck.
Bodices were very tight fitted as a result of darts and princess seams. In the early 19th century dropped waists were common, creating a very long torso. Most ended in a point just below the waist. Collars that were very high and banded were very popular. These types of collars were called "officers collars".Underwear
The bustle returned to fashion and reached its greatest proportions ca. 18861888, extending almost straight out from the back waist to support a profusion of drapery, frills, swags, and ribbons. The fashionable corset created a low, full bust with little separation of the breasts.
The usual undergarment was a combination, a camisole with attached knee- or calf-length drawers, worn under the corset, bustle, and petticoat. Woolen combinations were recommended for health, especially when engaging in fashionable sports.Riding habits had become a "uniform" of matching jacket and skirt worn with a high-collared shirt or chemisette, with a top hat and veil. They were worn without bustles, but the cut of the jacket followed the silhouette of the day.
In contrast, hunting costumes were far more fashionably styled, with draped ankle-length skirts worn with boots or gaiters.
Tailored costumes consisting of a long jacket and skirt were worn for travel or walking; these were worn with the bustle and a small hat or bonnet. Travelers wore long coats like dusters to protect their clothes from dirt, rain, and soot.Artistic or Aesthetic dress remained an undercurrent in Bohemian circles throughout the 1880s. In reaction to the heavy drapery and rigid corseting of mainstream Paris fashion, aesthetic dress focused on beautiful fabrics made up simply, sometimes loosely fitted or with a belt at the waist. Aesthetic ideas influenced the tea gown, a frothy confection increasingly worn in the home, even to receive visitors.
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