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We begin our journey in 1812, in the era of Jane Austen's romance novels. The main style of dress was a sheath-skirted ankle length dress with a fancy neckline and a buckle very high up on the waist, right under the breasts, creating a 'poufing' affect that pervades fashion for the next hundred years. In those days, there was a different dress for every occasion. Eating lunch? Dress. Taking a walk? Dress. Exhaling? Dress. You get the picture.
And here we have the infamous 1830's. You can see the distinct difference a few years make. The most notable? The sleeves. Look at 'em. You could fit a small flock of geese in those. Also note the drastically larger skirt, more like 17th century promenade gowns then its simple predecessor. Large hats and bonnets were also 'in'.
Now this is a dress from the 1860's. The sleeves no longer have the tight sleeve cuffs, but have open frills. The most prominant feature of this dress is the skirt, which has evolved into a birdcaged monstrosity. Shawls, or triangular cloths tied around the shoulders, were popular as well.
Here we have the post-civil war fashion of the 1870-1890's ish, which can be summed up in one word: Badonkadonk. These dresses, called bustle dresses, had large swaths of cloth swept up to the small of the back, drawing the fabric very tight. It also typically had wrist-length sleeves and intricate folds and designs around the bottom.
Look at it. Take it in for a second- Yes, that's right- NO POUFS! THis is the Edwardian age during the era of women's rights from 1900's to around 1920. It is very similar to the badonkad-BUSTLE dresses except for the noticable lack of said bustle. However there is also a higher collar and more prominant waist, creating more of a suit shirt affect then a dresslike one.