Date: 1860–65

Culture: American

Medium: silk, mother-of-pearl

Credit Line: Gift of Mary Pierrepont Beckwith, 1969

Accession Number: C.I.69.33.4a–d


The silhouette suddenly deflated in the 1870s, from a broad dome to something more akin to a right triangle. This silhouette developed in part because of the need to absorb the voluminous skirts, which had been worn over the domed cage crinoline. The solution was to pull the excess fabric behind and create a bustle which was elaborated with trimmings and supported with steel or cane hoops that projected backwards from the body. The waistline during this period was still in approximately natural position, but the torso overall had taken on a new shape in the advent of the spoon busk. Curved outward over the abdomen, the spoon busk allowed the fullness of the belly to be expressed below a compressed waist. The rounded lower torso in combination with a supported bust above formed a curvaceous hourglass silhouette.