Bound by Bustles


You know how fashion seems to reappear every few decades or so? A little more modern version but still with some distinct features. A few years ago the 60’s was really in vogue and when I was in junior high the 70’s were back. The 50’s seem to never really disappear, which I love since a 50’s inspired dress probably the prettiest thing ever, and so flattering. But, why does it end there? Why is the 50’s the earliest decade we steal fashion from? Is it because we just want to forget the 40’s and it’s military inspired jackets? The 30’s with the long slim dresses? Or the 20’s with the flapper dress and low waist. Ok, the swing dress with fringes has been back, I give you that but where are the low waist and the charleston and the head decorations?

What I really would like back in fashion is the bustle. I just find it utterly spiffing. Unpractical of course but still. I was once at a ball with a 1860’s theme and I wore a homemade dress with a bustle. Someone commented that it was nice to see someone who wasn’t afraid to show a different fashion ideal than the current one. I couldn’t agree more but I don’t think that’s the only reason for my fascination with the bustle. I don’t know why it’s so appealing but it is.

Maybe that’s why I like steampunk so much. It’s set during the second half of the 19th century, there are nice dresses, steam powered machinery, parasols, vampires, dirigibles, huge binoculars, Victorian era, top hats, clock work, cog wheels, decorum and etiquette and – most importantly – bustles. I particularly enjoy Gail Carriger’s books about the Parasol Protectorate and the Finishing school. It has everything I ever wished for. I’m not sci fi reader and a reluctant fantasy reader but steampunk, or rather Gail Carriger’s steampunk, I really like. I think it’s because of the humour and the fact that completely unexpected things can happen since it mixes Victorian era with things that wasn’t invented then and isn’t invented now either. Also,it takes the politness and etiquette of British 19th century to the extent. Our heroine can be in an awful pickle but only because one is tied down and thrown into a cellar (really, what an awful way to treat a lady) doesn’t mean one should be rude even though it is a bit of a trifle to make a curtsey and even though one’s petticoat has been awfully wrinkled. Or what do you think?