According to Fashion: The Century of the Designer by Charlotte Seeling, a bustle is a pad, stuffing, or hoops serving as a base over which the rear of a skirt is draped so as to emphasize the derriere. They came into fashion about 1785, but reached the height of their popularity at the end of the Victorian Era. The bustle acted as a transitional undergarment from the bell shaped crinoline hoop skirt to the more streamlined, narrow silhouette of the Edwardian Era. Read more

Fans: Heating Things Up During the Victorian Era

While the functional use of a fan is to cool things off, during the 19th century they were more often used to heat things up. Fans were used as tools of discreet communication between the sexes, creating a social intercourse ranging from flirtatious desire to devoted love. Read more

More Shirts!

This summer at the Valentine, we began the long and labor-intensive process of inventorying the Costume and Textiles Collection. My fellow intern and I were assigned ‘men’s shirts’ as our starting point, beginning with the earliest dated pieces and moving forward through the decades. It seemed fitting to all involved to start the audit with such a basic component of men’s dress. Read more

White Shirts: A Sartorial History

While womenswear is perpetually rewritten, contemporary menswear is consistently rooted in tradition. A man is given just a few inches of change here and there: a thinner tie, fewer buttons. Because he is limited in the tools of dress provided to him, his intents are expressed through subtleties. Read more


Parasols originated in ancient Assyria. They began as fashioned palm branches and reeds held over the heads of Kings and other royalty. Pale skin from avoiding the sun through use of a parasol became associated with wealth and social status. Read more

Buckles & Bits

“One, two, buckle my shoe…” – English Nursery Rhyme Read more