Victorian Buns: The Obsession with Enormous Bustles

By | June 20, 2019

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Late Victorian flower show and garden party dresses with high bustles and fitted corset lines. Source: (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Long before the Kardashian girls started posting social media pics of their derrieres and before Sir Mix A Lot gave us the classic “Baby Got Back,” folks were still fascinated with women with predominant backsides. In the 1870s and 1880s, women’s fashion moved away from huge, bell shirts to dresses with a more streamlined, flat front and a party in the back. The bustle gave the appearance that the woman had enough badonkadonk for everyone. Let’s look at the Victorian bustle fad that made every woman look like she had augmentation.

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Before the bustle put the emphasis on the backside, hoop shirts were all the rage. Source: (

Pre-Bustle Days

Before the bustle was all the rage, it was full, round skirts that all fashionable ladies desired. The silhouette created by these skirts was feminine and flattering, but the look was hard to come by. At first, women wore layer upon layer of petticoats to get their dresses to flair out. As you can imagine, this was costly, heavy, cumbersome, and hot. Women were literally carrying around yards and yards of fabric everywhere they went. With the invention of the hoop skirt, ladies could still get the enormous bell shape to their skirts without all that extra fabric. Because they were so lightweight, hoop skirts got bigger and bigger. This presented a whole new set of challenges. It was hard to sit down, get close to your dance partner, and even maneuver past other hoop skirt wearers.