The 1870s saw the invention of the telephone, phonograph and light bulb. The cost of living was on the rise, but large familes were on the decline. Prudishness reached a high point. A woman would not complain about anything occurring between her neck and knees. Corseting was greatly in vogue. A small waist was much admired; a girl of 16 was expected to have a 22-inch waist, but a girl of 18 was expected to have a 16-inch waist. Women often slept in their corsets to maintain their shape. The corset cover replaced the chemise and soon evolved into the camisole. Stockings were black striped and shoes laced up the inside. Victorian women disguised chairs, tables, even smelling salts bottles, and this carried through to women's fashion with renewed interest in the bustle. The bustles were constructed of wire, horsehair and fabric and were worn to support the dress in the back. The bustle was covered with a shaped petticoat of fine linen with ruffles around the neck and wrists.
A well-dressed woman wore two skirts. For this outfit, the first is of hot pink shantung; another of pale pink is looped up and tied behind her waist. This looping adds to the effect of the bustle. The basque bodice is trimmed with the contrasting color and buttons diagonally up the front, allowing the ruffles from the false blouse to show.
A fashionable lady would never go out without her bonnet. This straw hat trimmed in flowers and ribbon fastened under her chin.
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