Top 10 Bustle Frock Flicks, Part 2

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Because I love 19th-century bustles of all types — from the big, first bustle fashions of the 1870s through the slim, natural-form styles of the early 1880s until the final, aggressive bustle shapes of the late 1880s — I’m counting down the top 10 bustle frock flicks. I just couldn’t narrow it down to our typical top five, and last week, I listed my 10 through 6. Here’s the rest of my list

 

 

5. The Portrait of a Lady (1996)

Another depressing movie with beautiful bustles. Just watch for the costumes.

The Portrait of a Lady (1996) - Isabel - white The Portrait of a Lady (1996) - Isabel - blueThe Portrait of a Lady (1996) - Isabel - blue The Portrait of a Lady (1996) - Isabel - stripeThe Portrait of a Lady (1996) - Isabel - stripe The Portrait of a Lady (1996) - Isabel - blk asymmetricalThe Portrait of a Lady (1996) - Isabel - blk asymmetrical The Portrait of a Lady (1996) - Isabel - red damask & velvetThe Portrait of a Lady (1996) - Isabel - red damask & velvet The Portrait of a Lady (1996) - Isabel - ballgownThe Portrait of a Lady (1996) - Isabel - ballgown The Portrait of a Lady (1996) - Isabel - peach laceThe Portrait of a Lady (1996) - Isabel - peach laceThe Portrait of a Lady (1996) - Isabel - peach lace The Portrait of a Lady (1996) - Isabel - purpleThe Portrait of a Lady (1996) - Isabel - purpleThe Portrait of a Lady (1996) - Isabel - purple

 

 

4. Lillie (1978)

Spanning the 1860s to 1920s, a big chunk of the most important plot happens from the 1870s to 1880s during episodes 2 through 10, and the costume quality is excellent.

Lillie (1978) Lillie (1978) Lillie (1978) Lillie (1978) Lillie (1978) Lillie (1978) Lillie (1978) Lillie (1978) Lillie (1978) Lillie (1978) Lillie (1978) Lillie (1978) Lillie (1978) Lillie (1978) Lillie (1978)
Lillie (1978)

Made for this series but barely seen, it’s reworn in Original Sin!

 

 

3. Daniel Deronda (2002)

A fun variety of 1870s bustles for daytime and evening on modest and extravagant characters.

2002 Daniel Deronda2002 Daniel Deronda Daniel Deronda (2002)2002 Daniel Deronda2002 Daniel Deronda2002 Daniel Deronda 2002 Daniel Deronda 2002 Daniel Deronda2002 Daniel Deronda 2002 Daniel Deronda Daniel Deronda (2002) 2002 Daniel Deronda2002 Daniel Deronda 2002 Daniel Deronda2002 Daniel Deronda 2002 Daniel Deronda

 

 

2. The Buccaneers (1995)

American heiresses marry British gentry, with fabulous frocks aplenty.

The Buccaneers (1995) The Buccaneers, BBC, 1995 The Buccaneers (1995) The Buccaneers (1995) The Buccaneers (1995) The Buccaneers (1995) The Buccaneers (1995) The Buccaneers (1995)

 

 

1. The Age of Innocence (1993)

The best, hands-down! Stunning natural-form gowns on Michele Pfeiffer, Winona Ryder, and all the ladies.

The Age of Innocence (1993)The Age of Innocence (1993) , on display at Tirelli Costumes The Age of Innocence (1993)The Age of Innocence (1993)The Age of Innocence (1993) The Age of Innocence (1993) The Age of Innocence (1993)The Age of Innocence (1993) The Age of Innocence (1993)The Age of Innocence (1993) The Age of Innocence (1993)The Age of Innocence (1993) The Age of Innocence (1993)The Age of Innocence (1993)The Age of Innocence (1993) The Age of Innocence (1993) The Age of Innocence (1993) The Age of Innocence (1993)The Age of Innocence (1993)The Age of Innocence (1993)The Age of Innocence (1993)The Age of Innocence (1993)

 

 

Do you agree with my favorite top 10 bustle frock flicks? What else would you add?

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About the author

Trystan L. Bass

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A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. Her costuming adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also ran a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

21 Responses

  1. EA Gorman

    I have a question about bustles. What did a lady do if she already had a “shelf-like” backside? Did she just add fabric and forgo the bustle? [I am blessed with such, so no Roaring 20s flapper looks for me.]

    Reply
    • Trystan L. Bass

      For most of the bustle era, a woman would wear some kind of bustle foundation, which could range from a soft pad to a wired structure (& there were TONS of different designs & shapes!). The exact size of that foundation would vary according to the woman’s own proportions, taste, social status, & the fashion of the year. Take a look at those silhouettes at the very top of this post — no human woman could have a backside shaped like the early bustle or late bustle eras; that’s all created with a foundation garment :)

      Only for the ‘natural form’ fashion, about 1875-1882 ish (in the middle of the top image), were gowns very slim & fitted, & the ‘bustle’ look was just created with skirt draperies, so no foundation was worn underneath.

      Reply
      • Roxana

        ‘Natural Form’ strikes me as an amusing misnomer but I do prefer that silhouette to the extreme centaur like bustle of the mid eighties.

        Reply
        • Trystan L. Bass

          Well, the style did show more of an hourglass body shape than had been previously shown in women’s fashion. Still an idealized form, but a bit more “natural” than the big bustles, hoops, exaggerated sleeves, & empire waists of the rest of the century ;)

          Reply
  2. Mary

    I could have sworn that in “Age of Innocence” May’s white evening gown was her wedding dress, altered. Maybe that detail was in the book? Why would I even think that?

    Reply
    • Amanda

      In the movie I think the narrator says that it was the custom in those circles for brides to wear their wedding dress to other events for the first year after the wedding. We do see May wearing her wedding dress at the theater or opera. I’m sure someone with a better memory can elaborate or correct me!

      Reply
      • Applecalypse

        In both the book and the film she rewears her wedding dress once, to the opera, where they leave early because archer has a headache.

        In the book she snags it on the carriage door, tearing it, with the mud in the street making it dirty. As this happens before Archer intends to confess to May about his affair with Ellen, this is symbolic of their broken marriage.
        I always found it to be a bit too on the nose of an analogy, so maybe thats why they left that bit out of the film, which follows the book quite literally most of the time.

        Reply
  3. M.E. Lawrence

    “The Age” is definitely my fave here, although “Lillie” runs a close second. Happy memories of watching it with my best friend, now dead, and sighing over the frocks and Peter Egan as Wilde.

    Reply
  4. Brittany Layne

    Beautiful,feminine and ornate. I love all the dresses! I’m a elder goth too. It’s nice to be old enough to afford the things we wanted as teens lol thanks for sharing. I want to watch all of the frock flicks.

    Reply
  5. erosdikaios

    Is the hairstyle on Michelle Pfeiffer historically accurate? It looks awful. But I don’t very much care for her.

    Reply
    • Trystan L. Bass

      She has a couple hairstyles throughout the film & they’re pretty accurate IMO. Check out the full review for how they’re also important to the story.

      Reply
      • erosdikaios

        The one where she is wearing a dressing gown reminds me of an awful ’80s perm.

        I loved the book when I read it but that was 20 years ago. The costumes are beautiful.

        Reply
  6. Kathleen Norvell

    Is the dark green gown shown in “Daniel Deronda” the same one in “The Buccaneers?”

    Reply
    • Trystan L. Bass

      I don’t think so — if you look really closely, the Buccaneers gown has an overskirt with a scalloped trim & the hem has a ruffle, but the Daniel Deronda gown doesn’t have an overskirt at all & the hem has pleats.

      Reply
  7. Roxana

    Except for ‘Lillie’ these all seem to be ‘I’m so miserable but at least I look great!’ type movies.

    Reply

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