Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Costume in Natal: 1870s

By the 1870s, photographers favoured padded chairs for their subjects to lean on, and a three-quarter view of the figure. This is a typical example.

The lady's hair, plainly centre-parted in front, is piled up on the top of her head in a thick plait, presumably - though not necessarily - her own. As the decade advanced, hairstyles became far more elaborate, especially at the back, waves, ringlets and curls being encouraged by overnight plaiting or by curl papers and curling tongs.

The emphasis of the skirt was all at the back, too, becoming larger and fuller as the bustle developed and the front and sides taking on a smoother appearance. Tapes fixed to the side-seams of the skirt were tied round the back underneath the projecting bustle.

The bodice for day wear was high-necked, with fussy trimming at neck and wrist.

In South Africa the change to the bustle took longer than it did in Europe: there was still a slight time lag in fashion though by the 1890s, with improved communications, this gradually became less noticeable.

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