Ask A Curator Day!

Today is Ask A Curator Day! In this spirit, the E&T Division curator and staff will participate by answering questions (as best we can!) about our collections here at the Museum of Texas Tech University.

To get things started, the images below display a corset and bustle hoop form dating from the 1880’s.  Because these items are no longer worn in modern fashion, they are objects of curiosity that many have never seen before.

Although the petticoats would go over the wire hoops, this is how these items would be worn together.  The corset creates and keeps a small waisted, hourglass form that was fashionable.  The bustle hoops buckle at the waist, and support a skirt with its shape; flat in the front, bustled at the back, and flared at the bottom.

The corset is tightened and tied in the back, but clasps in the front to easily dress.  The small hook shown above hooked over the petticoat waist to prevent it from riding up.

This bustle form was worn under a brown dress made for Ms. Rhoda Shields when she was 16 years old, around 1884.  Sadly, she later died three weeks apart from her sister (Mrs. Sophronia Shields Rogers) during an epidemic.

Please leave your comments about these objects, or any other inquiries about our collections!


Object of the Day

Two-Piece Navy, Wool Riding Habit, 1870s

Most women who chose to ride in the 19th Century were of more than moderate means.  A lady would be required to be fitted for a riding habit of the latest style trends, and to have a horse specifically trained to carry a woman sidesaddle.  The tightly fitted, plain bodice and less full skirt of this riding habit is indicative of the changing style of the women’s riding habit to suit the Victorian era fashions of the 1870’s.  Before, riding habits were of varying colors, more voluminous in material, and more feminine lines.  Often times, though, the long and picturesque skirts would prove dangerous to both the riders and the horses.  By the mid-1870’s, the bodice styles of riding habits became more severe and masculine, and shoulder seams at their natural point rather than dropped.  The skirts, too, became less full, and riders would wear chamois or soft leather breeches under her skirts to have a more secure seating.

Early 1870's stereoveiw of French ladies wearing riding habits while mounted. From the collection of Leila Hidic.

This riding habit within the collections of the Museum of Texas Tech University has a fitted bodice, pointed in the center front and has a bodice opening which fastens with brown leather, buckled straps in the front.  The high-standing collar, sleeve cuffs and squared tails in the back are also trimmed and fastened with the buckled leather straps.  The long-trained skirt has two gores; an unusual cut with an inset that cups to allow space for fitting over the horn of the sidesaddle.