When I look at women’s fashions from history there are few styles that make less sense to me than the bustle.
Hoops have them beat.
And honestly, elephant bells and hot rollers and make up, and pierced ears and miniskirts are all pretty darned strange. I’m lucky I never got sucked into an escalator with those crazy wide bell bottoms. And forget bowling in a miniskirt, it’s just wrong…the kind of thing that scars a woman. The kind of thing that, well, I couldn’t bowl anyway so it’s not like it harmed my score all that much, but now, years later, I think of that ridiculously short dress and that whole freaking bowling alley behind me and I almost…ahem…excuse me. I mean this all happened to a FRIEND OF MINE.
Back to Bustles and Spurs Week!
So maybe bustles are just par for the course in the woman’s fashion sense.
But when I look at clothes, what I always wonder is HOW.
How did they climb in a carriage wearing a hoop?
How do you bend over and pick something up in a miniskirt?
How do you breathe in a tightly laced corset?
And how in the world to you sit down in a bustle?
Sometimes fashions have, at their very most basic root, some modicum of sense. I’ve heard hoopskirts helped keep a woman cool when she was wearing up the thirty pounds of clothing in the southern United States in the summer.
Sort of like internal air conditioning maybe? And the swaying hoop is a ‘ceiling fan’ of sorts? That’s the kidn of think that starts out maybe having some sense behind it and then the fashion takes hold, the skirts get wider, the hoops get bigger and bigger and before you know it, you’re wearing a wedding cake on the bottom half of your body as if you just popped out of it at a drunken bachelor party.
And a corset. Well, I think they used to believe corsets had some health value. Like to … (I’m struggling here) to keep your back supported? Maybe? But then they put in the boning. And they went all Scarlett O’Hara and laced tighter her tighter and bragged about a man spanning their waist with his hands and garbage like that.
But bustles? What? Was sitting down forbidden?
Did they like…invent chairs just so women COULD sit down? And what would that chair look like?
Getting a hoop into a carriage was tricky but a bustle? No, you would have to walk everywhere, unless maybe they modified the insides of carriage so you could have plenty of room on a deep seat…or maybe lay face down. Or…………….
Oh forget it.
I suppose the same geniuses came up with all those styles.
And stiletto heels, too.
And skinny jeans.
Just stop it.
My tribute to bustles today is actually a tribute to woman everywhere for surviving.
I will end with this thought.
Ginger Rogers did every dance that Fred Astaire did. Only she had to do it backing up, in high heels, wearing a dress.
Women are tough and it’s a pleasure to write about tough women. And none tougher than my current heroine, Penny McCall. And she wasn’t one to mess around with a skirt when she had outlaws to hunt down.
Leave a comment about the worst possible woman’s fashion in history. Or tell me about a ‘bowling in a mini-skirt’ disaster you’ve heard of…from a friend. Get your name in the drawing for a signed copy of Mary Connealy’s Series Guide.
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Gratuitous picture of utter (udder?) cuteness.