A natural form bustle gown

I recently had the pleasure of designing a bustle gown inspired by the Natural Form Era (1875-1883) for a customer in The Netherlands. This gown is for a Victorian Era wedding she will be attending.  The bride has requested guests wear period attire.What a gorgeous wedding it will be!

Here are the details:

This customer was specific regarding the design elements for her gown. She asked for a one piece gown with a cuirass bodice and square neckline, sleeves that ended above the elbow with no puff at the shoulder, and a dramatically draped bustle with a small train.

Initial Sketches
Natural Form bustle dress

She was also drawn to rich, deep hues and said her favorite colors were purple and gold. She also requested a combination of solid and floral fabrics if possible.


Bustle fabric swatches

(True color under natural lighting)

Natural Form Bustle gown  Bustle era gown


cuirass bodice  bustled skirt   natural form bustle dress

front swag bustle skirt  bustled train  bustle train ruffle

A couple design notes:
I added the ruffle at the bottom of the skirt to assist the train and add a little weight to the bottom of the gown (allowing it to fall properly). There are stays in the bodice that serve not only as support for the bodice itself but as anchors which I attached the skirt to. I added a little ruffle to the sleeve to balance the ruffle at the hemline. And, I chose to add button closures at the back of the gown because moving buttons is the easiest way to adjust fit if necessary.

Overall, this was a great commission for a great customer. I definitely look forward to making more bustle era gowns in the future!

About Susan

Hi! My name is Susan and I am a historian, seamstress, teacher, mother, and wife. My passion for history has manifested itself in the art of recreating clothing from different periods of time. Growing up in the American South, I am heavily schooled in the art of recreating clothing from the 19th century. After nearly a decade of immersing myself primarily in the Victorian period, I found the need to branch out and explore other periods of time. However, it is my connection with the American South and the clothing of rural America that continues to be the driving force behind my designs.