Different Types Of Bustle

Different Types Of Bustle: Adding Drama And Volume To Your Gown

Bustles are an iconic feature in vintage fashion that has been making a comeback in recent years. Adding glamour and volume to a gown, it is no wonder why brides and fashion enthusiasts want to incorporate this trend into their wardrobe. There are different types of bustle depending on the era and style of the gown, and it is important to know which type to use to achieve the desired effect. In this article, we will explore the different types of bustles available and how to choose the right one for your dress.

The History of Bustles

Bustles have been a part of fashion since the Victorian era where women wore large, full skirts over a cage crinoline that shaped the bottom of the dress. As the Edwardian era approached, the bustle became smaller, and the focus shifted to the back of the gown. During the 1920s, the style changed, and women desired a more simplistic silhouette without the extra volume at the bottom. Bustles were forgotten for many years until they made a comeback in the 1980s and 1990s as part of the glam-rock style. Today, the bustle remains a popular choice for brides and fashionistas who desire a vintage-inspired look.

The French Bustle

The French bustle, also known as the under bustle or the ballroom bustle, is a popular style that creates a full, dramatic effect. The fabric is gathered from underneath the gown, creating a cascading effect that adds volume to the back of the dress. The French bustle is typically made up of several hooks and loops that are hidden under the dress. During the ceremony, the bustle can be easily fastened, and when it is time to dance, the hooks can be undone, creating a dramatic and voluminous effect. This type of bustle is perfect for ball gowns or dresses with layers of fabric that require a lot of volume.

The American Bustle

The American bustle, also known as the over bustle, is a simple and elegant way to add volume to the back of the dress. Like the French bustle, the fabric is gathered up from underneath the gown, but instead of being hidden under the dress, it is fastened on top of the fabric to create a beautiful and dramatic effect. The American bustle is a popular style for mermaid-style dresses as the volume is concentrated at the bottom of the dress, creating an elegant and sophisticated look.

The Victorian Bustle

The Victorian bustle is a popular style that is perfect for dresses with a lot of fabric. The style features a framework that is tied around the waist and supports the fabric of the dress, creating a full, voluminous effect. The Victorian bustle is typically made up of hoops or petticoats that are attached to the framework, providing the support needed to keep the dress in shape. This type of bustle is perfect for vintage-inspired dresses with a lot of fabric, and it adds a touch of glamour and sophistication to any outfit.

The Watteau Bustle

The Watteau bustle, also known as the Watteau train, is a unique style that features a long piece of fabric that is attached to the back of the dress and drapes down to create a voluminous effect. The style is named after the French painter Jean-Antoine Watteau, who depicted women in voluminous dresses with long trains. The Watteau bustle is perfect for dresses with low backs and is a great way to add drama and volume to a simple gown.

The Pannier Bustle

The Pannier bustle, also known as the side-hoops bustle, is a popular style that was popular during the Rococo period. The style features two hoops that extend out from the hips, creating a voluminous effect on the sides of the dress. The Pannier bustle is perfect for 18th-century-inspired dresses and is a great way to add drama and volume to a gown.


A bustle is a great way to add drama and volume to your gown, and there are many different types available to suit your style and era of preference. Whether you prefer a full, cascading French bustle or a simple, elegant American bustle, there is a style to suit your needs. The Victorian bustle is perfect for vintage-inspired dresses, the Watteau bustle is great for adding drama and volume to a low back gown, while the Pannier bustle is ideal for 18th-century-inspired dresses. Whatever your preference, adding a bustle to your gown is sure to make you stand out at any event.

Top Questions Concerning Different Types Of Bustle

What is a Bustle and Why Would I Need One?

A bustle is a support structure worn under a dress or skirt to give it volume and shape. This accessory was particularly popular in the 19th century, but it’s still used today to create a dramatic train or flounce. A bustle helps the garment “bustle up” in the back, rather than dragging on the ground and creating a tripping hazard. Here are three things to keep in mind about bustles:

  • Bustles come in various sizes and shapes to fit different dresses and styles.
  • Some bustles are adjustable, so you can customize the fit and shape as needed.
  • It’s crucial to practice walking and sitting with a bustle to avoid accidents or discomfort.

What Are the Main Types of Bustle?

Bustles can be broadly divided into two categories: overskirt bustles and underskirt bustles. The former sit on top of the dress or skirt and create a train effect, while the latter are attached to the underlayers of the garment to create volume and shape. Here are three examples of each type of bustle:

  • Overskirt bustles:
    1. Waterfall bustle: This is a tiered bustle that creates a cascading effect down the back of the skirt.
    2. Bustle bow: A bustle bow is a large bow attached to the back of the dress to create an exaggerated shape.
    3. Bustle pad: A bustle pad is a cushion that sits under the fabric to create volume and height.
  • Underskirt bustles:
    1. Bustle cage: Also known as a hoop or framework bustle, this type of bustle uses a framework of wires or other materials to create a support structure for the skirt.
    2. Bustle pad: As mentioned above, a bustle pad can also be used as an underskirt accessory.
    3. Bustle petticoat: A bustle petticoat looks like a regular petticoat, but it’s designed with ruffles, pleats, or other details that create volume and shape.

How Do I Choose the Right Bustle for My Dress?

Choosing the right bustle for your dress depends on a few factors, such as the fabric, the cut, and the occasion. Here are three things to consider when choosing a bustle:

  • Fabric: If your dress is made of a heavy or structured material, you may need a more substantial bustle to support it. Lighter fabrics, on the other hand, may require a more delicate bustle.
  • Cut: The cut of your dress will also affect the type of bustle you choose. For instance, if your dress has a fitted bodice and a full skirt, you’ll need a bustle that supports the weight of the skirt without pulling on the bodice.
  • Occasion: Finally, consider the occasion you’re wearing the dress for. For a formal event, a more dramatic bustle may be appropriate, while a simpler bustle would work for a casual occasion.

How Do I Put on a Bustle?

Putting on a bustle involves a few steps to make sure it’s secure and comfortable. Here’s a general outline of the process:

  1. Put on your dress or skirt as you normally would.
  2. If you have an underskirt bustle, put it on first and adjust it so it sits evenly under the skirt.
  3. Attach the bustle to the skirt or dress according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Generally, you’ll need to attach the bustle to loops or buttons on the back of the garment.
  4. Adjust the bustle so it sits evenly and creates the desired shape. Use a mirror or have someone help you to make sure it looks right from all angles.
  5. Practice walking and sitting to get used to the sensation of wearing a bustle.

Can I Make a Bustle Myself?

If you’re handy with a needle and thread, you may be able to make a simple bustle yourself. However, complex bustles or those that require a lot of structure may be more challenging. Here are three resources that can help you make a bustle:

  • Online tutorials: There are many tutorials on YouTube and other online platforms that can guide you through the process of making a bustle from scratch.
  • Vintage patterns: You can find vintage sewing patterns for bustles online or in specialty stores. These patterns will have detailed instructions and diagrams to help you create an accurate bustle.
  • Consult a professional: If you’re unsure about making a bustle yourself, you can consult a professional seamstress or tailor who has experience with this type of accessory.

Misbeliefs Concerning Different Types Of Bustle

Common Misconceptions about Different Types of Bustle

1. All bustles look the same

One of the most significant misconceptions about different types of bustles is that they all look the same. That’s not entirely accurate since there are various types of bustles, each with its unique design and style. Some are more dramatic, while others are subtle. It depends on the bride’s preference and the gown’s style.

2. All bustles are easy to install

Another common misconception about bustles is that they are all easy to install. Even though some bustles are easy to install, others are relatively complex, requiring a professional’s attention. Additionally, the type of bustle you choose can determine the ease of installation. It’s always best to work with an experienced tailor who can guide you on the best bustle to suit your gown.

3. A bustle will alter the dress’s overall appearance

Some brides also believe that incorporating a bustle in their gown’s design may alter its overall appearance negatively. However, that’s not necessarily true. Bustles are meant to enhance the gown’s shape and style, not to detract from it. When properly installed, a bustle will give your dress more volume and flow, giving you more comfort and freedom of movement.

4. All bustles work for all dress types

Not all bustles are designed to work with all dress types. Various dress styles require different types of bustles, and it’s essential to ensure that you choose the right one. For example, a ball gown requires a different type of bustle compared to a fitted or mermaid-style gown. The type of dress you choose should determine the type of bustle you install.

5. Bustles are only necessary for long gowns

Another common misconception about bustles is that they are only necessary for long gowns. However, that’s not accurate. Short dresses, such as tea-length or knee-length dresses, may also require bustles, particularly if they have a significant amount of fabric. The bustle will gather the excess fabric, allowing you more freedom of movement during the reception.

In conclusion, bustles come in various shapes, sizes, and designs, and it’s always best to consult with a professional tailor to find the best one for your dress. Ensure that you choose a bustle that enhances your gown’s overall appearance and doesn’t detract from it. With the proper choice of bustle, you can dance the night away in comfort and style.

Different Types Of Bustle

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