1870's Period in Fashion History presented by Apparel Search
By 1870, fullness in the skirt had moved to the rear, where elaborate draping was held in place by tapes and supported by a bustle. This fashion required an underskirt, which was heavily trimmed with pleats, ruching, and frills. This fashion was short-lived (though the bustle would return again in the mid-1880s), and was succeeded by a tight-fitting silhouette with fullness as low as the knees: the cuirass bodice, a form-fitting, long-waisted, boned bodice that reached below the hips, and the princess sheath dress or polonaise, a "retro" style based on the fashion of the 1770s.
Sleeves of day dresses were narrow throughout the period, with a tendency to flare slightly at the wrist early on.
Evening dresses had low necklines and very short, off-the-shoulder sleeves, and were worn with short gloves. Other characteristic fashions included a velvet ribbon tied high around the neck and trailing behind for evening (the origin of the modern choker necklace).
Designer Definition (from U.S Department of Labor)
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1980's Fashion History (terms section)
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