Inspiration – Early bustle ball gowns

I’ve been looking at early bustle period (ca. 1870-1876) ball-gowns lately, inspired by the theme of next-years Victorian ball in Bath (organized by Prior Attire). Because even though I don’t exaclty live in the same country, I’d still very much like to go. Don’t know if it’ll happen, but looking at inspiration images is fun non the less! Most of the 1870’s ball gowns are a little too frothy for my taste, as I don’t particulary like the combination of pastels with loads of ruffles and frills, but there are some nice examples out there.

These fashion prints are from the Bunka Gakunen Library, and I really love the way these were coloured. They all seem hand-painted with watercolors, little art pieces.

Beware of loads of pictures! Clicking should give the full-size version.


5 thoughts on “Inspiration – Early bustle ball gowns

  1. Ruffle and frill overload! Very happy we’re not forced to wear gowns like these. Ick. The black one on the seventh picture otoh, I could see myself in a version of that. No frills, only gorgeous silks and some velvet accents.

    • I tend to think of myself as a ruffle and frill liking person, but with these I’m noticing that that’s compared to a modern aesthetic, clearly not compared to a 1870’s one ;). I also tend to gravitate towards the day-dresses of that era, those can be considerably less frilly. For ball gowns they went full-out though, haven’t seen a non-frilly ball gown yet. And especially combined with pink/baby blue it can be a bit much. I do like the flowers though.

  2. Oh thanks so much for sharing these – very helpful as i too have been looking on pinterest all week for inspiration for the very same thing (Victorian Ball in Bath next year); i’m really hoping to go; i do live in the same country luckily but not sure if i will be able to get anyone to come with me – i’m contemplating just going alone i’m that desperate to go 🙂 Will look forward to reading more of your lovely blog; Marina

    • You’re welcome. Good luck on your efforts! I’ve a similar problem, I know people who would like it, but not really any who sew ;). If you do decide to just go alone I’d love to know! Been thinking of that myself and I’d love to know how it works out. (also, if I do decide to go alone I’d still love to meet up with people!)

  3. I don’t sew either unfortunately though i wish i could! We have a Victorian Festival in our town every year (which i am involved with) and usually i have bought all of my outfits from dressmakers or had something made for me. I will be doing the same for the Ball – if i decide to go! I will let you know; i am going to contact Prior Attire i think and ask whether anyone has gone alone before and how that worked out or i perhaps i should post the question on the event’s facebook page and see if anyone else is feeling the same – there may turn out to be quite a few of us who are contemplating going on our own and could all meet one another once we get there! i would like to go to the dance workshop during the afternoon too 🙂

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