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The years 1870-1900 include what is known as the Bustle period, in which the popular silhouette shifted from full skirts to a more fitted look characterized by fullness in the back.Throughout the Bustle period of the 1870s and 1880s, a variety of padded devices were used to create back fullness and the bustle took on different forms. The bustle of the first stage (1870-1878) was achieved through manipulation of drapery and the use of decorative details such as flounces and bows at the back. From (1878-1883) fullness dropped to below the hips and decorative effects of the skirt became focused low as a result. Long trains and heavy fabrics also helped to emphasize the focus on the rear. The latter part of the decade (1884-1890) saw the bustle at its largest. Often referred to as the shelf bustle, it was rigid and took on the appearance of an almost horizontal projection. At this time, skirts shortened to several inches above the floor and rarely had trains, with the exception of some evening dresses.

Additionally, they include the 1890's, which are often referred to as the Gay Nineties or La Belle Epoque. Times were good, Paris was the center of high fashion, and for those who could afford it, dress was lavish and highly decorative.

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The corset continued to be worn, aligning with the fashionable silhouette of a full bust and hips with a narrow waist. Dress ensembles typically consisted of two pieces -- a bodice and matching skirt. The one-piece princess dress, worn by some during the latter part of the period, was an exception. Bodices were often fitted, with the cuirass bodice style emerging from around 1878-1883. Sleeves were close-fitting and ended at either three quarters or at the wrist. Evening dresses were differentiated by their lavish trimmings, level of ornamentation, trained skirts, and short sleeves. Weighted silk offered greater body and was a popular choice for dresses beginning in the 1870s. Full sleeves were at their largest in 1895, before they gradually decreased in size towards the turn of the century. By the 1890s, sleeve with fullness were only seen with small puffs at the shoulders. Tailor-made costumes consisted of wool or serge skirts worn with a shirtwaist bloese. and were considered ideal for traveling. Shirtwaist blouses were often accessorized by cravats and jabots. The variety of outerwear for women increased during the late nineteenth century and was dominated by coats, jackets, and wraps. Accessproes of the period included small hats, gloves, muffs, decorative fans, and parasols.